La Biennale di Venezia announces the 2019 Lions for Dance: the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement has been awarded to Alessandro Sciarroni, considered to be one of the most revolutionary choreographers on the European scene; the Silver Lion has been awarded to the pair of French artists Steven Michel and Théo Mercier. The decision was made by the Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, which approved the recommendation of the Director of the Dance Department Marie Chouinard.
The Awards Ceremony will take place on 21 June 2019 (at 12 noon) at Ca’ Giustinian, the headquarters of the Biennale, on the opening day of the 13th International Festival of Contemporary Dance (Venice, 21 > 30 June 2019).
A performer, choreographer and director, educated in the visual arts and with several years of experience in theatre, Alessandro Sciarroni "is an Italian choreographer – states the motivation – who creates in resonance with performance art. He is the conductor of the dancers and all of those whom, trained in different disciplines, he invites to participate in his projects. He builds concentrates of life at the limits of obsession, organizing them around events chosen from our fragile and ordinary lives. He puts our everyday bodies on stage in a space that amplifies insistence to find the fault that will soften and relieve us".
As an artist, in great demand for dance and theatre festivals as well as art galleries and museums, from Europe to Hong Kong, from Abu Dhabi to Rio de Janeiro, Alessandro Sciarroni has been something of a permanent presence at the most recent Biennale Danza with his original choreographic constructions that borrow from various disciplines: in 2013 with Untitled, I will be there when you die; in 2014 with You don't know how lucky you are, in 2015 with TURNING_Thank you for your love version; in 2017 with Chroma, Aurora and Folk-s.
Steven Michel – who studied mime, dance, percussions – and Théo Mercier – trained in the visual arts and theatre direction – have found a common ground for experimentation in the intersection between art and choreography, the result of similar construction processes, but using different instruments, on the one side the body, on the other, objects.
As the motivation states "Steven Michel and Théo Mercier are two committed young artists whose career we should pay great attention to. They come from a generation of creators who love to collaborate with others and move from project to project. Both create choreographic mise-en-scènes in which they explore the material of our culture, our space and our time. The bodies become objects and the objects move towards embodied, material, violent thought. These "plastic choreographer-artists" offer us strange parties, where the truth of falsity and the falsity of truth trigger thoughtful landscapes, devoid of nature, a new, crude, enchantment".
Steven Michel, Théo Mercier, Alessandro Sciarroni will inaugurate the 13th International Festival of Contemporary Dance of the Biennale di Venezia on the evening of June 21st with their performances. Affordable Solution for Better Living, a solo piece that subtly and humorously dissects the standardization of our lifestyles, created together by Michel and Mercier and performed personally by Michel; Your Girl, the piece with which Sciarroni broke into the world of contemporary dance, and Augusto, his most recent work, in which the physical and vocal practice through which the performers are allowed to express themselves consists solely of laughing to the bitter end.
In the past, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Dance has been awarded to Merce Cunningham (1995), Carolyn Carlson (2006), Pina Bausch (2007), Jirí Kylián (2008), William Forsythe (2010), Sylvie Guillem (2012), Steve Paxton (2014), Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (2015), Maguy Marin (2016), Lucinda Childs (2017), and Meg Stuart (2018).
The Silver Lion, dedicated to promising young artists in dance, or to the institutions that have distinguished themselves for cultivating new talents, has been awarded in the past to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (2010), to Michele Di Stefano (2014), to Dana Michel (2017), and Marlene Monteiro Freitas (2018).
(San Benedetto del Tronto, 1976. Photo © A. Macchia) is an Italian artist who works in the field of the Performing Arts. He earned his degree in the Conservation of the Cultural Heritage at the Università degli Studi di Parma. As a performer, he trained and worked for many years with the Lenz Rifrazioni company. His works have been presented at contemporary dance and theatre festivals, museums and art galleries, and in unconventional spaces, and involve the participation of professionals from various disciplines.
His work reaches beyond the traditional definitions of genre. He begins with a conceptual approach similar to Duchamp's, that relies on a theatrical structure and borrows practices and techniques deriving from dance and other disciplines such as the circus or sport. In addition to the rigour, coherence and crispness of each creation, his works attempt to reveal, through the repetition of a practice taken to the limits of the performers' physical resistance, the obsessions, fears and fragility of the act of performing, in its search for a different dimension of time, and a relationship of empathy between spectators and performers.
Alessandro Sciarroni is an associated artist at Centquatre-Paris and is supported as a focus-artist by apap – Performing Europe 2020. His works have been produced by Marche Teatro in collaboration with various national and international co-productions, depending on the projects. Some of his long-standing supporters have been Centrale Fies, the City of Bassano del Grappa – Centro per la Scena Contemporanea, Amat, la Biennale de la danse – Maison de la Danse de Lyon, La Biennale di Venezia, Mercat de les Flors – Graner (Barcelona) and the Associazione corpoceleste_C.C.00# of which he is artistic director.
The awards he has received include the Premio Europa Realtà Teatrali 2017; Premio Hystrio 2017; Premio Rete Critica 2013; Marte Award 2012 and 2013; Premio Danza&Danza – Emerging Choreographer 2008; Premio Nuove Sensibilità 2008.
(Parigi, 1984. Photo © M. Taillefer) – He studied at the École nationale supérieure de création industrielle in Paris and at the Universität der Künste Berlin. With Bernhard Willhelm he worked on a collection of stage costumes for Björk before he moved to New York (2008) and became an assistant to Matthew Barney for the project River of Fundament1. He returned to France in 2009, and pursued his personal artistic career developing a recognizable and original language that found space in solo and collective exhibitions in Europe, Asia and America, shown at the Palais de Tokyo and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, at the Moscow Biennale and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Germany.
Since 2014 Théo Mercier has also pursued his work as a director in the area of live performance, creating Du futur faisons table rase and Radio Vinci Park. An associated artist at the Théatre des Amandiers since 2017, Théo Mercier created La Fille du collectionneur (supported by "La Fondation d’entreprise Hermès" as part of its program «New Settings») and Affordable Solution for Better Living. His productions have been presented at the Nanterre-Amandiers Theatre, La Villette and La Ménagerie de verre in Paris, at Usine C in Montréal, The Invisible dog Art Center in New York, Festival Actoral de Marseilles, Bonlieu Scène nationale Annecy, Dampfezentrale in Bern, Vooroit Center21 and Campo di Gand, Théâtre de Vidy in Lausanne and La Bâtie-Festival in Geneva.
In his works, he develops a critical analysis that weaves together anthropology, ethnography, geo-politics and tourism. Between his choreographic performances and his research into various materials, he is both a creator and a collector at the same time, involved in an intense dialogue between past, present and future, between animate and inanimate, truth and lies, craft and industry, sacred and profane, real and imaginary. He lives and works between Paris and Mexico.
(Saint-Marcellin, 1986. Foto © L. Ostenrik) – He studied mime and the circus arts, dance and percussions. From 2006 to 2010 he lived in Brussels, where he attended and graduated from Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's P.A.R.T.S. (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios). Bringing together his musical and choreographic training, he created Even but Odd with Nicholas Aphane, focused on the rhythm and percussion of the body, followed by the solo piece The Desert of Milestones. In 2012 he was at the Dansenhus in Stockholm where he worked with Marcus Baldermar on Model, a reference to the French film director Bresson.
As a dancer he has worked with choreographers, theatre directors and filmmakers – David Zambrano Falk Richter, Lukas Dhont, Daniel Linehan, Maud Le Pladec – as well as plastic artists such as Théo Mercier and Sarah & Charles. Since 2012 he has collaborated regularly with Belgian choreographer Jan Martens.
In 2016 he created the solo They Might be Giants, which explores the relationship between artificial and natural, animate and inanimate, material and immaterial.
He is currently organizing a series of workshop-performances for artists from different disciplines, to experiment with approaches and instruments that are very distant from one another and challenge the boundaries imposed between the various art forms.