Thanks to the invitation of Martin Zicari and Diego Echegoyen, during the last week of November I joined the temporary Latinxs community taking part in Proximamente Festival - By the end of the week Martin proposed me to write something to speak about a piece, a moment or a corner of Proximamente-
I don't know if it is cuz of his piece or cuz of him, but I decided that I wanted to “write” something with Rodrigo.
His piece made me laugh hard. His poetic seduced me. When the morning after the end of the festival I woke up, I still had in my mind the dream from last night.
I took my phone and wrote him: “Rodrigo, Buongiorno Principessa!”
I invited him to a rhizomatic experiment: to ally with plants and overflow the definition of Contemporary Dance.
When this morning I woke up, the dream from last night was still in my mind.
In my dream the body of a transgender performer rebelled against the Contemporary Dance system, sued it and the court dwelled in a theater, in the European capital, in Brussels, at the KVS. No, it was not a "body", a dead Deleuzian-body innervated by a multiplicity of semantic, semiotic levels and meanings. He was rather a person, but not in its legal sense. A human being, but not in an universal sense. A single, a person, a complexity, a person. Is “person” the right word? Rodrigo ... Rodrigo is on the stage and it is Rodrigo that set up the court, wrote the script for this dream, called a chosen audience to testify and choreographed the movements for his execution.
He was sentenced to death and resurrected to take the applauses and give the speech!
Against all the dogmas of seriousness of Contemporary Dance, morality and good behavior - with enormous respect and brazenness - he seduced the theater, the production, the jurors and the public.
He seduced me. As only contradiction can do.
That pleasantly distracted looking at himself on the smartphone, reflected on the giant screen for the spectators. That winking the wink, that laying down on the table like an Al Pacino, calm and sly, with the lightness of someone condemned to death. Sisyphus appears to have kicked the stone and let it roll down while he went to have a dance at the courthouse.
The mastery of moving hands is the charm of every enchanter, and Rodrigo's voice chants.
His feet beat the ground to hypnotically shake the ass -
What is Contemporary Dance?
Shall we quit assigning the term Contemporary Dance to any dance that we consider - or wish to consider - avant-garde?
Shouldn't we stop appropriating popular languages, since, instead of giving them visibility or sharing power we empty them from their spirit?
These are some of the questions that arise from the performance of Rodrigo Arena.
Questions that he refuses to leave open - as a Contemporary Dance piece would do – are, on the contrary, presented to the audience as strong claims of a person who refuses to be subjected to the illusory "neutrality" of Contemporary Dance, actual mystification of an again-reduced-universal cis-thin-white-corpse.
I wrote him this morning. We gave each other some sort of appointment last night. Let's see when we wake up.
“Rodrigo, Buongiorno Principessa!”
I suggested that we meet again, through the adoption of limoni - a practice that belongs to my current artistic project.
Beside his allergy to rhizome, he accepted to take part in this rhizomatic practice.
What I perceived as akin to Rodrigo’s performative-approach is the drawing of a fat line between dream and reality, with the effect of blurring the border and overflowing on both sides.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been growing a dream-garden of limoni (plants and kisses for the future) and afterwards activating an expanded erotic choreographic movement for which I invite people to care of them and bring them to life. It is a fiction, a story-telling practice, challenging the possibility of co-writing with human and beyond-human partners.
It’s meant to be a dream, cultivated through the act of sharing it, with no regard for shape.
By doing so, starting from a pre-set form, we "wrote" together a slice of this story of kisses and plants together.
I didn't really feel like writing words, but if not for the hospitality, the atmosphere, the beers, meals and tickets offered, I wanted to leave something to Proximamente Festival, be it a gesture or an echo of a conversation that continues beyond the theater.
Thus, I thought to share this moment / a long kiss with Rodrigo and re-framing it as a non-verbal conversation on Contemporary Dance.
(Rodrigo reviewed the video and agreed that this was a good title to describe our movement)
By carrying with me Rodrigo’s claim, for sure not Contemporary Dance, it could perhaps be "Self-Reflective Divertissement" or "EXTRA EXTRA!" DANCE IS ALIVE! “, I reclaim with him the expressive, the sentimental, the simple and to reconsider the contempt for storytelling and for the public. With him I claim for a popular theater, able to let go of its clean reclusion to the institutional “proper” and to its deadly neutrality.
And people able to love.
so that's it ...
A portrait painted four-handed, a duet, or, more simply, a long kiss.
Ciao Rodrigo, a bien tot!
My contribution to Proximamente Festival -
A conversation with Rodrigo Arena on Contemporary Dance
The full contribution can be found here: https://www.matteodeblasio.com/rodrigo-arena-conversation
** the video of the non-verbal conversation can be found together with the other “limoni - a shared garden of oral flora and fauna” at https://www.matteodeblasio.com/kisses
To being able to see the video you need to reassure youtube that your age is over-18.
matte is an Italian artist based in Brussels working with performance and choreography.
He develops a research interconnecting/interrelating narrative and performativity, staging words, objects, presence and absence of the human body. Being interested in the sensual real place where existent borders (sexual, political, living/non living) can be faced and challenged, he wishes to allow a space where identities and stories collapse and emerge. His experimentations give rise to a work built around the moment of the encounter, as trespass, questioning the borders between author, performer, object and the audience