Paola Bianchi‘s dancing body is everything, sometimes nothing, sometimes everything to discover, “expect” and fully understand. The human figure and anatomy, it’s mind and introspection that implode strength and elegance, dynamism in the emotion she puts on stage since the early eighties. She has traveled, fought and stopped, she knew without looking back and she continued.
She dances for herself, as she says, “the theater is very little.” You need to be aware and professional to clarify certain statements, today nobody gives you anything, and this proliferation of festivals and events real talent is sometimes not directly proportional to their expectations. Paola was taught to dance at the school Bella Hutter of Turin. From 1980 to 1986 she worked in the company of Anna Sagna and then became an independent choreographer. In 1994 she opened her own company Agar, the one that in 2005 became the Agar Association.
To promote the dissemination of dance and contemporary theater, she works in art direction , festivals and numerous research laboratories and collaborates with various influential personalities in the world of visual arts such as Ivan Fantini, Marzia Migliora, Paul and Menno De Nooijer, Barbara Klein not to mention all the artists involved in her shows. From Clotilde Clotilde her latest show UNO, Paola began her research and designs thanks to her artistic personal passion to novels and literary texts, from mathematical processes to psychological pathways to intimate reflections on the body and movements, anatomical visions, corporal, carnal and mental.
Paola externalized and materialized at the same time, her image is amplified because of the alphabetical study of the body, sensitivity level and specific perception of the individual. In her performance experience she has internalized a “conscience”, imitating shapes, positions, sequences dominated by her thoughts or to decode the meanings in spectacular events both communicative and functional.
Her body stimulates skillful and centralizes both krad and psyche, being the center of reflexivity and materialization. She “owns herself”, thus reflecting the bond with others, whoever it may be. During the viewing there is deep meaning taken in through the eyes, which is breathed in and felt internally, a new body image, a new plastic sense, a new brain, a new “principle of control” of alphabetic primaries.
Performance is seen as a mental space, as a private conscience in a common area, “sede Opus est”. Her dance is like an integration of neurology, collective expression, enchanted metric orchestra. No psycho sensory distance, mimesis that ensures the continuity of the flow of Paola Banchi’s emotions as a fascination and seduction sincinetica synaesthetic and the modular game dance”. Strong personality, Paola, in a critical body, also highlighted by the detailed interview we had.
Massimo Schiavoni: Who was Paola Banchi and who is she today?
Paola Bianchi: I was a little over 20 years old. I left the Anna Sagna’s company – because I could no longer be just an interpreter, I had to create, together with Enrica Brizzi Gincobiloba we established the company. In a small theater we met in Turin with Ermanna Montanari and Marco Martinelli -early in their career- during the eighties- but already famous in theater world. Mark had sent us a letter – there was no Internet and even fax was rare – with a list of the names and addresses of important organizers. We knocked on many doors. Sandro Pascucci opened the doors to us giving us a place for rehearsels and he gave us the oppurtunity to submit our first job during the opening season of the Petrella theater Petrella in Longiano. I still remember the smell of Petrella, the smell of the just completed renovation.
That’s when possibilities began to open up, we came into contact with the world of “experimental theater” -that was its called- but it all had to do little or nothing with real dancing. We started with our little car charged with settings for the play beyond belief. We stopped at festivals asking for a room, a small space to present our work and during our summer travels, i remeber arriving to Narni – a festival that no longer exists – with ingenuity and insight, directed by Giuseppe Bartolucci.
These was the beginning, more than twenty years ago. I thought we could change the world, I was almost certain. I thought the theater was a new world to be discovered, viewed from an angle – not enough experience to feel the opportunity to participate and everything outside of the theater seemed to rotate around it. twenty year old ingenuity… In reality there were no competitions or calls for those under 35 years old. Therewas a time for the under 25’s, but I was already at least 27, then one of them for under 30’s and I had turned 31.
Well I never was part of an under and now I am happy.Nonsense! How childish to consider that, keeping young people in a ring, controling them, giving them a treat every now and then only to be critized by everyone, deceiving and abandoning them once they have passed the threshold of the Under. Then many things changed in my life (Gincobiloba was dissolved, I established Agar and worked alone) and in my perception of the world. Gradually I realized that the skills, the beauty of a work force of a performance are limited in the theater world.
I realized that that world was and is corrupted just as the one outside, we pretended to be a big family, everyone knew everything about everyone but no one really took care of others. We never changed the world because it also changes on its own with small things. The correct behavior was daily honesty. The theater is not all, indeed very little. My always rule breaking and nomadic spirit in fact has precluded me many opportunities. But I do not regret that.Not now and not ever. Now i’m over forty, I try to give a sense to the place where I live, change has come in taking small steps, slowly progressing daily. The horizon, though larger, in my view has narrowed.
Massimo Schiavoni: You have obviously chosen to be yourself and you understand how this world sometimes seem so fake. Your responsibility brings out your passion and you do not feel the need to say yes at all costs and to all the bosses. Tell me a happy or bitter story about the naive Paola Bianchi and one about the alert and mature Paola Bianchi. Do you regret more your trip to discover the “theater world” or occasions “lost” due to the fact that you never settled for less or compromises?
Paola Bianchi:Hard to tell the story without saying people’s name. I will not say any names though, that would be unfair. My inability to stay quiet and pretend that everything is fine often penalized me. But I do not regret nor reject anything. I would remake the same choices, I would say the same things over again, criticize the same behaviors and ways, I would fight -like i still do- against the incompetence and approximation, two of the most common and serious evils of our time, I would pay the consequences all over again. I do not believe to be sensible, surely, impulsive strict with myself and with others. I can not remain silent in front of injustice, the rampant inability, especially when my target is someone powerful, power does not like criticism.
Massimo schiavoni: “Let’s take a step back. Over ten years ago your interest in the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo paintings inspired thr creation of one of your first shows, precisely FK performing on stage with Paul Call. Firstly i would like to congratulate you for your show, it is passionate and enganging to the right point. What did you want to communicate and offer through that sequence of movements and sounds? It seemed as something that was unable to free itself from an external body, something inspirational physically and sexually. What does inevitable provocation of the painter have to do with the lightness and strength of your dance or with you artistic research?”
Paolo Bianchi: ” Initially it was the story of her life that fascinated me and not so much her paintings. Later i realized that the elements were inseperable. In her paintings her biography is exposed, terrible incidents and her fragility come to the surface, deep wounds, children she was never able to have, her affairs, her flourish, communism, irony and death. “I paint myself because I’m alone. I am the subject of I know best. Her paintings tell the story of a body in state of anxiety and excitement.
She exposes her body in a way a Christian martyr would for her religion. In her paintings you can see colours, shapes and the reality in Mexico. I visited Mexico, her home, I saw those colours and shapes. I realized that death in Mexico is intented as a source and not as an end. FK was born together with the fascination with that world, a complicated life and yet so full of desire. I was interested in going beyond Frida’s personality, universalize the story and then return directly. On that canvas there were difficulties, fears, power and the struggle of many people.
At that time fewKnew Frida, there had not been any film about her life and only one biography translated in to Italian. I had to find information in Spanish and English. I could not assume anything. I worked on her story as a story about an ordinary woman, full of contradictions. I put on stage two women, two opposite figures.One represented possibility, capacity, dynamism meanwhile the other figure was forced in to a cage of struggle, heaviness, and neglection a sort of physical handicap. I always thought that the disagreements, friction may arise strong emotions.
The encounter between dance -the symbol of strength, muscle power, weightlessness- and a body forced to limited mobility and the desire go be able to do so. Like it or not we focused on the defects of deformation. We spend our lives trying to hide them trying to blend in with others, probably because its more reassuring and comfortable to feel like others. I wanted to give a voice to dignity and diversity and Frida Kahlo was the undisputed symbol of pride for diversity.
Massimo Schiavoni: “How do you define the body, your body in the 2002 Sinesuide imposizione verticale? In this project you on a text, a novel by Darrieussecq. What is your relationship with the text and with the creation of transformative-transfiguring using videos and narration sound? In my opinion you are successful because you are able to conceive a kind of installation in progress by placing human actions, videos and related works all together bringing out flexibility, agility, spaciousness and a faithful cool rhythm.”
Paola Bianchi: Sinesuide imposizione verticale originated as a part of a more complicated show ADIUS Utopia. The work was done by Ivan Fantini (chef and artist, with whom i worked with for various shows). In particular I investigated the choreography while the video was done by Ivan Fantini worked on the installation and creation of food enjoyed by 24 spectators. Adius Utopia began from Ivan’s passion for pigs, he made a deep reflection on wasting meat.
Adius Utopia stages the fifth quarter (head, tail, feet, and all the inside parts of the pig) the butchers call cheap meat, able to meet the nutritional needs of everyone in society and becomes an product for economy, thus fostering the economy’s growth of the first choice pieces. The scene in the fifth quarter in Adius Utopia was linked to the slaughter of a human being seen as aseptic, antiseptic, claustrophobic, where people struggle to live everyday.
Here came in to play my specific research about the body. Working on detail. inesuide imposizione verticale is not meant to be represented on stage in a theatre, action and vision share the same space. It approximately allows us to see the contraction of the muscles, the tension of the nerves, the vibration of the skin. A precise dance-off, in part concentrated on the details. Dynamic static motion, constriction of the place. The recovery of details in videos widens the closeness, almost pushing the vision within the body. I wanted to show the innards through the skin, the vibration of the interior without exaggerating the shape of things.
Marie Darrieussecq’s Troismi gave me the images I needed for body transformation from human to animal, from woman to plant. Its fundamental and necessary for the creation of my works from one to other texts, images, visual and audio. Everything learned becomes body, body transformation, and choreography. Parallel to the choreographic comes the need for written material. Not only to explain the actions but as a mean to conclude the work started. So these are the cards I play, evocative rather than explicit using texts in my shows. One of the ways to dig in the same direction but using a different tool.”
Massimo Schiavoni: “After the solitude of the Odysseus and the various Kytos immobility, in the 2006 you performed in Corpus Hominis, three different and celebrated dancers. How did you manage to build the contemporary body and what definition do you give to setting and time? Plus is the separation between soul and body really that absurd?”
Paola Bianchi: “Corpus Hominis marks an important step in my path. After interpreting things in first person, I felt the urge to leave the stage and become a spectator. Beyond that I wanted to explore the male body in terms of choreography. Compare that body so different from mine, it was so powerful, strong and had a particular internal rhythm. Corpus Hominis speaks of bodies. Bodies undergoing the consequences of their actions.
A dissected body, divided into organs, medicated, measured, photographed, painted, educated, be accepted, a celebrated body as a model in contemporary media that does not really belong to us, a “docile body”, to quote Foucault. The body is a surface on which are inscribed with the fundamental precepts, hierarchies, and even the metaphysical orientations of a culture, that the same body language reinforces. I have decided that male bodies are representative of human beings.
I chose them because they are victims of themselves, the culture they created. Reminiscence is not a woman, its reality. The power is still in the hands of the male gender. I think that anyone on stage has to understand the meaning and real motivation, like what is the purpose of him being there in front of an audience. At any moment, even in utter stillness – and indeed precisely in moments of stillness – we must continue to be, inside the scene, credible, believing in it. This is what the extensive studies that precede my shows are for. I tried to do the same with the three dancers in Corpus Hominis. I handed them my thoughts, my doubts, my written and spoken words.
We watched videos, we talked for hours about everything, from the food they ate for energy and how we burned that energy daily. An exalted body and then emptied, praised and reduced to an object, a body that can no longer move. It ‘was in some ways a battle, but not between me and the three dancers, between us and ourselves, our body, our being. This is what Corpus Hominis means to me, these are the three bodies on the scene. But those three bodies, as contemporaries, they lived in one place and at the same time, a time that does not belong to us. The choice of the space was completely black beyond the convention of the theater’s space. Was black by choice. And many times it was just working on this black, the darkness, the difficulty of perceiving the bodies, sometimes fleeting, sometimes lost in a haze that eliminates the boundaries of the site.
The area of Corpus Hominis is a place not all, it is a black screen on which we close our eyes at night, is the site of collection of images, the place of memory. And ‘the black around us, beyond the boundary of our skin, the dark side of our western world mock protected and protective. Its an autopsy lab, alive but lifeless. It is equivalent to the black dazzling white. At the same time has a duration measure, a temporal location identified by this experience. E ‘timeless time, not hours, but infinitely long and short at the same time. Symbolically, it is the educational development and yield of the body. “The robes erase poverty of animal life, hide those organs which are redundant for the expression of the spirit, if not covering the head, it is because there is the spiritual expression of the human figure.” Here, even around and against phrase of Hegel, a concept throughout western and cerebral – the celebration of the liabilities of the meat for the mind that’s how Corpus Hominis was born.
I do not think that the place of the soul and mind both reside inside the head, they’re separated from the rest of the body. The brain is located in the head but that does not mean that the rest is removed. The body has an intelligence, a memory that goes beyond verbalization. The dualism soul / body, mind / matter from Plato – the body as an alien, the cause of all evil a quote by Augustine – the body as an enemy, heavy and serious -, Descartes – the body as raw material, a body conceived by the intellect and not by life lived, a body in mind and not in the flesh, a body and not an anatomical entity of life – and Christianity – to control and restrain the natural impulses of the body -, was finally formalized by Freud . Lakoff says reason is made possible by the body, the core of our conceptual system originates in the structured nature of bodily experience.
Thinking also means having a body in dynamic relationship with the environment and many categories of thought are mental representations of states of embodiment.” As Umberto Galimberti writes in “Psyche and techne” dualism, body and soul is an effect of reflection that looks at the man after his action allowing it to live. Instead watched from the perspective of the action, the duality is dissolved because everything that is reported to the soul, culture, spirit, already appears immediately as a condition of the body’s biological life, and is that activation technique that allows the body to live despite his failure biological, its lack of specialization, the lack of environment. Here, I share these thoughts fully.”
Massimo Schiavoni: Per Figura Sola come from yourVisioni Irrazionali, after studying and thinking for years about Fibonacci’s numbers and the golden section. Explain the relationship between these visions and measures, with the staging of the performance. Why does a figure remain on stage alone? The definition and the acceptance of a sort of helpless loneliness – I think – of mutations remained in the throat, exhausted space without being filled.
Paola Bianchi: The Visioni Irrazionali study was on scene, the public display of the thoughts that instead of merely filling my notebooks, filled and inhabited spaces, with freedom of form. Short site specific work, from installation to performance, usually in the form of itself. Investigating the series of Fibonacci numbers and the golden section went beyond the immediacy of the number and perfection. With so many performers who have lived my Visioni were touched and the approval behavioral issues of which we are subjected to constant monitoring of our actions, of solitude is met before the submission of the manipulated body, forced, of transience, the static nature of the fall, attempted flight of perfection and its opposite, the grinding of the images of the breach of identity.
This study has served to build publicly exposed Per Figura Sola. While I thought this new job I realized that I had to work for subtraction, rather than adding – as he would Fibonacci. Those numbers are internal accounts to the choreography. Remains the golden rectangle drawn on the floor. I wanted to achieve the essential, I wanted there to be a deep sense of that path, which I believe is the solitude of the figure in a predetermined area.
Here the patterns on the floor becomes like snakes and ladders. A fixed circuit in which the change is only possible within the box. We worked on fiction. On the transformation, or rather on attempts to transform. On being on the scene, about loneliness, with no way out. We investigated the space. Space with no way of escape. A space that does not provide freedom of decision. A kind of bleak and desolate area, inhabited by custom. “
Massimo Schiavoni:Two figures return to the scene in Cessione, you and Valentina Buldrini. Also here is the black is in the background together with the empty space as opposed to red. Memory of an autobiography, what role does this liberating ceremony, where latrine gestures live together with personal but also collective privacy?”
Paola Bianchi: “I am truly the greatest of all because I can make three hundred thousand lire in a night, and even half a million and send someone else to sing for me. “So who knows Piero Ciampi?” This is the sentence Piero Ciampi said in 1976 (great poet and singer born in Livorno, little considered in life, but now seen as, after almost three decades after his death, a cornerstone of Italians singers-songwriters) said during an interview, made me think about the meaning of our doing and what the outside world perceives. To our being recognized or anonymous, the impact on contemporary irony is needed to give meaning to our lives. In Cessione the two figures to live in two separate locations, different and far apart, suspended in a black space, black was necessary, a fundamental choice.
Two platforms that float. One is the location of the gap, the dead gesture, thought that it had no voice, the other is the place of memory, reinterpreted, re-experienced and therefore little real. The first is suspended in a red semicircle, circumscribed and protected by a plastic surface that dissolves boundaries. Necessary protection, the intimacy of the place could not do without. This is the area of the gap. Within a latrine of a toilet. At first, the figure wears a wig constructed with VHS tapes containing the footage of my old shows, the real memory. The wig will soon be in the toilet, to become embodied memory of gestures on the other figure is the true strength of the work. The tapes are engraved signs that have gone through the whole body.
The same movement that the head – the place of images – get to the bottom of the back for getting lost in the moment. Another figure – that Valentina Buldrini, dancer by the full potential, a supple body, flexible, intelligent and rare ability to become more – I wanted to entrust the task of reinterpreting the gestures lost in the memory of performers and some attentive audience to her I wished to Cedere that burden ephemeral yet heavy. The work of the dancer is lost in the air moved by the stage. Sweat, toil. In acts that have created emotional reactions. Sometimes we struggle to shake him off, those gestures, sometimes we go to find them to feel us until the end. But the memory remains in the body internally, difficult if not impossible to verbalize.
That memory dies with the decay of our body. With the inability to replicate the movement to return to being lost. I wanted to expose my difficulty in accepting the oblivion express the need of memory, personal, collective or historical it is. They accept the deformation in the interpretation. Giving new life to death pictures. Cessione is a will, a piece of autobiography with gestures. My stand on the stage is testimony, fixed point, acceptance of distortion, de-imagining of the image, post-mortem in the latrine. Cessione is a biography of the vacuum. But the vacuum is necessary.”
Massimo Schiavoni: Paola, what is the true identity of the protagonist in your last creation Uno? What is expected and what are your plans for the future?”
Paola Bianchi: The true identity of the protagonist of Uno is the lack of identity. The difficulty of a life fake life. Loneliness infinite variety which we are isolated in front of our personal and private computer in a very special relationship with the keyboard and the mouse. Agamben writes: … The new identity without the person maintains the illusion of not one, but an infinite multiplication of masks. At the point where it nails the individual to an identity purely biological and asocial, Internet almost promises us that we will be able to take off all the masks and have other possibilities, none of which can ever belong to themselves.
This non-identity or better yet unidentità, using the privative alpha rather than the negative prefix, thus this becomes the true protagonist. Unable to really transform, even through costume changes, unable to fully share the action that takes place, unable to make quick decisions in arrhythmia atonal, one being there without being there. Unfinished movements, doubtful, approximation of the gesture. Done without an absolute sense, at the end of the action, to the moment in which it occurs. Indecipherability of signs. Slipping in doubt of not definite doing. UNO is an act without solution, without the game.
Uno is a breakdown, a complaint of difficulty, an inability of being. Yet in these many difficulties there’s room for a smile and for sarcasm that I found to be more appreciated and understood in the Nordic countries than here. Uno is in desolation, disaster waiting to happen, the scene of errors after errors (the use of space for use of lights, created by Paul Chicken Rodighiero, lighting designer I have worked with for a very long time, a master of lighting) , is the decline of our time, our land, the beautiful country. There is the silence of our imperfect time. Illiteracy aesthetic evidential. This creation of a desolation and this helps keep struggle of a text item from the book written by Giuseppe Genna wrote ITalia De Profundis, one of the most interesting writers of the Italian scene, who with his cultured prose and never banality devastates our hearts.
Expectations and plans for the future….I prefer not answering the first question. When it comes to future projects instead continue to rise and follow each other seamlessly. Now I am focused on the new job, UNO, that after the debut at the Milan PIM February 6 will be in Vienna for a week on tour, then in Frosinone, Castiglioncello, Bologna and hopefully not stop there … I’m working on parallel a show for children (age range 3-5 years). A job that should not be ignored, a different approach, lighter, but no less important. And then there’s the attempt to spread the culture of contemporary dance in Rimini (where I have lived for the past 8 years). Virgin territory. A job I have been doing a few months with a group c_a_p.