Dissemination, knowledge and democratization of art also passes (and especially) through the squares – designed as a public space – where people build relationships and open, mutual and cultured communication. In the wake of urban dance and site-specific performances within the street art and circus festivals and within outdoor events, dance has freed itself from theaters and box offices for years, to win over and get closer to the people.
The casual and offhand event “invading” the daily routine or falling within the socio-educational circuits can have a greater charm, a collective significance, a freshness that is like a return to the origins of civilization. The space of the dance has been civilized itself and, expanding in the incorporeal, it fills the gap between popular culture and learned culture. As a result, the body that inhabits the space works both as a bridge and binding agent of collective energy, in the incessant polysemy of the everyday places that, thanks to individual gestures, feelings and perceptions, welcome the “sense of community”. More than you can imagine, intuition and human anthropological feeling are embodied in the soul of the artist on the road.
Dance artists loving to take risk, a bit Philippe Petit and a little George Balanchine, on the border between Cirque du Soleil and Momix, between Tatiana Baganova and Jaciel Blacks. They blend choreography and scenic design, acrobatics and street theatre, free-climbing and multimedia installation, illusionism and sound. Versatile and communicative, they dance and climb buildings and dams, medieval towers and glass skyscrapers, trees and hot-air balloons, catapulting or just rolling on themselves.
The Aerial Dance is an art form that uses dance techniques (and styles), more or less contemporary – combined with other disciplines – in gravitational suspension; coming from the US Modern Dance at the end of the Seventies, it gets away from that to be independent. Vertical dance, theatre, part of the nouveau cirque or contemporary circus (dancing with fabric, rope, hoop, hammock, trapeze, German wheel, elastic stilts etc.), 3D architectural mapping with the adjacent dancer and every performance exploring the space in three dimensions are expressions of this developing and successful art. Climbing harnesses and thin cables between the bell tower of Notre Dame and Niagara Falls, between stairwells and natural parks, where the degree of strength, flexibility and courage is proportional to the grace of the movements.
If the various Anna Halprin, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs and Forsythe re-conquered the everyday routine – to experiment with new contexts and equipment – today a renewal following originality is necessary for a sensible balance. And as swimmers they dive into space en plein air, where new Street Dance, Blueprint, City of Abstracts or Saut dans le vide are born in the dedicated circuits and festivals: America Dance Festival, International Aerial Dance Festival, Irish Aerial Dance Festival, Les Hivernales, Festival Chemins des Arts.
Among the precursors we include Bruno Dizien and Laura de Nercy/ Company Roc in Lichen in addition to the ever present Antoine Le Menestrel. The latter, climber and and danse-escalade follower, has been cooperating with international artists since the Eighties (Compagnie Les Piétons, Compagnie ilotopie, Compagnie Artonik, Romeo Castellucci, Charlo Lemoine etc.). In 1992, with Franck Scherrer, he founded the Company Lézards Bleus, where performances with an acrid-romantic taste will be born facing fears and utopias like L’aimant, La bourse ou la vie? And Le Voyage du pére Noel. Antoine feels a street artist because – he writes – is linked to the urban environment, where the quality of the movement is poetry, “an acrobat in the service of the movement”.
Geneviève Mazin has been carrying out a personal choreographic career within the Compagnie Geneviéve Mazin l’Archantrope since 2008, where he talks to the city through impossible suspensions in Hauts-Lieux; combining breathing and emotional states to nature in Présences déracinées or in Petites forms géographiques. A real energy explorer, he manages to combine yoga with the power of a body in motion. He doesn’t challenge gravity but he rides it. To a question about the poetry and the meaning of the aerial art he replies: “I feel like a dancer able to face increasingly different contexts: stadium, road, forest, gardens, rocks and the architecture of the city. And I am always very poetic. The aerial art is becoming more and more popular, because the shows give people dreams and it is easier to get closer to the public because often the shows are free.[…] My choreographic pieces depend on the shape of the building or of the tree, they must be fitted even if the majority is defined.[…] The vertical dimension is very stressful for the body, and to get an interesting outcome there is a lot of work behind, with pain and sometimes with injuries.”
Fabrice Guillot also belongs to the French school and with the Compagnie Retouramont he explores the many possibilities of space and the relation human-object through tricks of light and multimedia; plastic environments where dance and music embrace each other in order to live a unique perceptual experience. It can be seen in Les Ondes Gravitationnelles, in La Danse des Cariatides and Cette Immense Intimité, while he manages to show drama skills in the last Environnement Vertical. For him the vertical dance is an “encounter with the other arts and a hybridization of disciplines”.
In this transalpine overview we must also mention Fred Deb, who is, in collaboration with Jacques Bertrand, within the historic dance artists, being one of the founders of the aerial fabric; eclectic and fascinating, her “celestial poetry” has enchanted the whole world with colours and graceful bodies. Last but not least, we mention Philippe Riou and Christine Bernard, makers of the memorable Les Passagers company in 1988.
Then, Terry Sendgraff from Oakland renewed the whole American performative environment, thanks to his improvisational dance with trapeze (Motivity) in 1976, thus becoming an example and model for the current generations. Again in America, we remember other active pioneers as Joanna Haigood with the Zaccho Dance Theatre (ZDT), the Bandaloop Company’s artistic director/choreographer Amelia Rudolph, who has really experienced every corner of the Earth, in museums, theaters, sites, cliffs and mountains: Forgotten Walls, Harboring and Bound(less) are some of the most recent performances.
The Blue Lapis Light company in Texas transforms institutional-administrative environments in attraction spaces as the great performances in the City Terrace & Hartman Concert Park or in the Space Center in Houston.
We must mention Brenda Aerial Dance Company founded by Brenda Angiel in Argentina in the Nineties, the Master Anne Bunker artistic director of O-T-O Dance in Arizona and Heliummm Aerial Dance and Entertainment by Heather Hammond. Looking at innovation and multidisciplinary we have Gravity & Levity by Lindsey Butcher, NoFit State, Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre, Kitsou Dubois, Shayna Swanson, Abel Navarro, Hallgrim Hansegard, Odile Gheysens, Noémie Lafrance, Lauren Breunig, Andrew Leach, Mary Wolfe Nielsen, Lynn Sabin Lunny-Meg Skill-Jackie Zalewski, Nicole Kehrberger and Alissa Feller.
In our country – in addition to Wanda Moretti with the Compagnia Il Posto – there has been a real artistic exploit for years. These artists challenge themselves with the Italian style art in the different specialities, spilling over other “performative environments”, even if there are organizational problems for the institutions: economic, logistical and of resources for the artists. Starting with the talented Riccardo Strano (Company Onarts), let us mention Martina Nova, Loretta Morrone, Elena Manni, Barbara Vitangeli/Lunaquiches, Lucia Fusina, Cosetta Graffione, Valentina Franchino, Cafelulè Vertical Contemporary Dance, Art Gravity, Vertical Events, Suspended Slaughterhouse, Les Ninettes Company and many others.