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Biennale Danza 2020: two weeks of performances featuring 19 choreographers
Dance -

Biennale Danza 2020: two weeks of performances featuring 19 choreographers

The programme includes 23 pieces (7 world and 5 Italian premieres), as well as a series of encounters and films that unfurl in the Arsenale.

The Festival

From October 13th to 25th, Venice will be the setting for the 14th International Festival of Contemporary Dance according to Marie Chouinard, who thus completes her four-year term as Director of the Dance Department of La Biennale di Venezia.

Two weeks of performances with 19 choreographers who have authored 23 pieces (7 world and 5 Italian premieres), as well as encounters and films that will unfurl through the spaces of the Arsenale – Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, Sale d’Armi, Teatro alle Tese and Tese dei Soppalchi –all the way to Ca’ Giustinian.

Following in the wake of past editions, the guest choreographers, many of whom belong to the generations of the 1980s and 90s, show dance to be a boundless territory, one of the most dynamic in the art world and most open to hybridization, dance that finds place in theatres, galleries, museums and even trade fairs. This was the perspective that guided our choice of recipients for the 2020 Lions for Dance: the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to the Spanish-Swiss choreographer La Ribot and the Silver Lion to choreographer Claudia Castellucci .

The Lions

An “undisciplined” artist by her own definition, La Ribot is the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. A unique personality in the world of choreographic, she has made her name building piece by piece, over the span of twenty years, the Piezas distinguidas that would bring her to the Tate Modern, for years the heart of live art, to the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, the Reina Sofia Museum, the Centre Pompidou and all the major festivals that have dedicated portraits to her work. At La Biennale, La Ribot will present Más distinguidas, that gathers 13 short, dazzling performances from the Piezas distinguidas, and Another Distinguée, a new collection of 8 pieces, presented in 2016. The Piezas distinguidas are a series of solos that vary from 30” to 7’ long: grouped into cycles, they compose a sort of visual poem made with various techniques, some of which are borrowed from the world of art (drawing, cutting, collage, manipulations, forms of installation in which the body is an object in motion). The Piezas distinguidas are a constantly evolving discourse in which the fixed points are woman, the body, fragmentation.

Claudia Castellucci will receive the Silver Lion award, and is to present Fisica dell’aspra comunione, based on pieces from the Catalogue des oiseaux by Olivier Messiaen performed live by pianist Matteo Ramon Arevalos. A dramaturg, choreographer and pedagogue, Claudia Castellucci has built an architecture of theory and practice based on absolute rigour: a school and a company, essays and lessons that advance her reflections upon the concept of time and rhythmic movement in relation to music, which have found a natural impulse in Messiaen, the inventor of personal rhythmic processes.

The companies

Catalan artist Maria Campos and Guy Nader from Lebanon, who since 2006 have formed an independent company based in Barcelona, explore time with three other dancers in Time Takes the Time Time Takes, through the repetition and accumulation of movement, swaying movements that create complex mechanisms in time with the pulsing of Miguel Marin’s live music by, a hypnotic representation of perpetual motion.

A trailblazer for a new generation of choreographers, Noé Soulier has embraced all of western dance in his well-rounded training, which he completed between Paris, Toronto and Brussels, while also earning a degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne, and writing essays. He has been appointed to be the Director of the CDNC in Angers starting in July. At the Biennale, Soulier will present two works that scrutinize the gesture and memory of the body: The Waves, with two percussionists from the Ictus Ensemble, and Portrait of Frédéric Tavernini, with Soulier himself performing Fargion’s music on the piano. Inscribing his choreography into a conceptual context – as the heir to a generation of artists such as Jérôme Bel, Xavier Leroy, Tino Seghal – his works strive for both harmony and beauty.

The pursuit of the alchemy between dance and music, and the reciprocal conversation between body and sound, inspires the work of Belgian choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez, who hails from the artistic laboratory of Jan Fabre following her classical training: in Venice she will share the stage with pianist Claire Chevallier for Piano Works Debussy, a dance that paints the immaterial music of Debussy like a watercolour, and will dialogue with Bob Dylan’s songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, to a live vinyl mix by Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, in Lisbeth Gruwez dances Bob Dylan.

Basque choreographer Jone San Martín, in Legitimo/Rezo, will set into dance the personal “diary of notes” on her more than twenty-year career with William Forsythe, co-author of this solo/lecture which has toured the world. It is an inside look at the creative process that Forsythe develops with his dancers, a reflection upon the body as an archive of gesture with the dancer who is considered to be “Forsythe’s living archive”.

From Micha Van Hoecke to Constanza Macras, from Yasmeen Godder and Ohad Naharin to Sasha Waltz and Italian choreographers Virgilio Sieni and Ambra Senatore, Claudia Catarzi’s experience is vast and continues beside important names even when, since 2011, she turns to personal creation, conceiving solo pieces that have won awards everywhere. Currently an associated artist at the CDCN in Bordeaux, Claudia Catarzi will present Posare il tempo at the Biennale, a study for duo on movement in relation to the essential dimensions of space-time, the time that works towards the modification and evolution of things and the space that generates connections.


Matteo Carvone, who has worked with important choreographers such as William Forsythe, Emmanuel Gat and Wayne McGregor, and who has been a freelance choreographer since 2009, primarily in Northern Europe, revisits and “cages” the mythological figure of the faun: an archetype of modern ballet since Nijinsky, it has been a challenge for choreographers such as Lifar, Robbins, Amodio, Petit, Kyliàn, Béjart, Neumeier and Chouinard herself, who presented a provocative female version of the myth. Anchored to our contemporary era, Carvone proposes a male duo on artificial grass, nature lost forever to the self-destructive fury of man.

In a brilliant show of irony inspired by the most famous of neo-Classical statues, the Three Graces by Antonio Canova – the quintessence of balance, harmony and universal beauty –Silvia Gribaudi’s Graces puts three dancers on stage before she herself bursts out to join them. Against all convention, stereotype and automatisms, her dance flits lightly in an apotheosis of the liberating power of imperfection. Winner of the Danza&Danza 2019 award, the piece is a play on social codes such as those of dance.

Considered the manifesto-piece of her research into the political body, Gentle Unicorn by and with Chiara Bersani, an artist who works in the fields of performance and visual arts, won her an Ubu as Best actress and performer under-35 last season. To the unicorn, the mythological figure of unknown origin which has changed form and meaning over the centuries, “a creature with no homeland and no history, used and abused by humans, deprived of the right to free speech”, Chiara Bersani consecrates her own body – flesh, muscles and bone, eyes and breath – to compensate for the injustices it has suffered. To give it a story, love, choice.


Marco D’Agostin, who has performed for Claudia Castellucci, Alessandro Sciarroni and Iris Erez, began his career as a choreographer in 2010 and since then has presented his works in Italy, France, Great Britain, Spain and Belgium, winning the 2018 Ubu award as Best performer Under-35. He was one of the founders of VAN in 2013 along with 8 other artists (Francesca Foscarini, Andrea Costanzo Martini, Camilla Monga, Giorgia Ohanesian Nardin, Ginevra Panzetti & Enrico Ticconi, Irene Russolillo). Avalanche, which made its debut at the Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, is inspired by a dystopic universe, and presents a man and a woman who have survived an imminent catastrophe and “walk towards the dawn of a new planet, after hoisting the burden of their sadness onto their shoulders”.

Sofia Nappi and Adriano Bolognino are the winners of last year’s Biennale College Choreographers. Their debut is now confirmed in the commission for two new works by La Biennale.

Born in Naples in 1995, Adriano Bolognino, who has already authored several choreographic works, was trained in both classical and contemporary dance, and was a dancer with Marcos Morau from the La Veronal company, among others. Your Body is a Battleground is the title of the choreographic piece for La Biennale, inspired by the eponymous work by artist Barbara Kruger, in which the body in the programmatic title is the female body.

With training oriented towards contemporary dance, Sofia Nappi, born in Florence in 1994, earned her diploma in 2017 from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, then furthered her studies in courses with the Batsheva Dance Company and with Hofesh Shechter. Having danced in works by Alessio Silvestrin, Jon Ole Olstad, Brice Mousset, Alvin Ailey, Earl Mosley, Clifton Brown, Sidra Bell, Netta Yerushalmy, Juel D. Lane and Robert Moses, Nappi sought an autonomous direction winning third place at the Netherlands Choreography Competition 2018. Ima is the new work she will present at the Biennale Danza, “inspired by the complex simplicity of living, which is the reason why we keep charging ahead without ever getting enough”.

The last star, in terms of time, to shake up the French and European dance scene over the past ten years, Olivier Dubois, who has worked with Sasha Waltz, Jan Fabre, Angelin Preljocaj, the Cirque du Soleil before establishing his own company on the international scene, will bring Pour sortir au jour to Venice, an intimate solo about the memory of the body into which the very history of the art of dance is inscribed. A journey through the fragments of over 60 productions that review Dubois’ artistic history, seeking the artist through the anatomy of the performer.


Encounters at the Sale d’Armi and conversations following the performances with great artists: a mosaic of images, visions, stories, skills to foster a relationship open to knowledge and dialogue, with an audience that is aware and open to the experimentation with various expressive languages.

Finally, a cycle of screenings of short and feature-length films will be shown at the Arsenale to extend the perspective onto the world of dance and beyond dance.

Biennale College Danza

Started in 2012 in all the Departments of the Biennale di Venezia with the purpose of promoting young artists offering them the opportunity to work in contact with the masters to develop new creations, the Biennale College Danza was structured, with Marie Chouinard, into two compartments, one dedicated to the dancers and one dedicated to the art of choreography.

Of the approximately 100 applications for the call launched in November from 16 countries around the world, the director Marie Chouinard has selected 11 male and female dancers between the ages of 18 and 25: Styliana Apostolou, Magda Argyridou, Giulia Cannas, Sandy Ceesay, Toni Flego, Silvia Galletti, Thalia Livingstone, Alice Ortona Coles, Elisa Ruffato, Damiano Scavo, Luca Tomasoni.
From July 20th to October 25th 2020 the dancers of the College participate in an intensive training that combines sessions dedicated to the awareness of the body (somatic approach), contemporary techniques, research into movement and interpretation with particular reference to the repertory of a contemporary choreographer, of which there will be two this year: Marie Chouinard and Xavier Le Roy.
At the end of the intensive training the 11 dancers will present three works as part of the 14th International Festival of Contemporary Dance: the new creation A Mushroom at the End of the World conceived specifically by Marco D’Agostin, In Museum from Marie Chouinard’s repertory, and a new version conceived specifically for the dancers of the College of the famous Sacre du Printemps by Xavier Le Roy.

Since the College dedicated to the art of choreography was first launched in 2017, it has produced 9 short original choreographic works. The winners of the 2020 international call are:

Silvia Giordano, 31 years old from Cividale del Friuli
Emese Nagy, 30 years old from Budapest
Melina Sofocleous, 23 years old from Cyprus

Each of them has been asked to develop an original creation of their choosing lasting around 20 minutes. To this end the three selected choreographers will complete a residency in Venice from September 8th to October 25th 2020. Following a preliminary phase dedicated to the analysis of the mechanisms of composition and ideation of a choreographer selected among the historical figures of modern and contemporary dance – a phase that will serve as a starting point for their personal research – the choreographers will work for 6 consecutive weeks on their own creation with 7 selected professional dancers: Giorgia Bortoluzzi, Rebecca Carluccio, Stefano De Luca, Ludovica Di Santo, Mathilde Fasciana, Francesca Roini, and Andrea Scarfi.
During this phase of research and elaboration of the 3 original creations, the choreographers will be able to work with experts, who include: Guy Cools for dramaturgy, Simone Derai for the direction and set design, Sander Loonen for the lighting, and Serena Sinigaglia as outside eye.
The three creations will be presented on the last two evenings of the 14th International Festival of Contemporary Dance (24 and 25 October, Tese dei Soppalchi): Tremendous Hop by Silvia Giordano, Venice Fanatico by Emese Nagy, and Rhythms and Blues by Melina Sofocleus.

Our thanks

We would like to thank the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities for its significant contribution and the Regione del Veneto for the support granted to the programmes of the Dance Music and Theatre Departments of La Biennale di Venezia.