La Biennale di Venezia is an art festival happening every year (unlike its tittle suggests), in Venezia, Italy.
The festival welcomes a variety of art fields, such as cinema, theatre, dance, music and architecture. Although the event is better known for its cinema and architecture sides, it actually is an amazing connecting platform within the dance world.

As a matter of fact, La Biennale di Danza (which is how the dance department is called), offers every year a week of performances and happenings, such as interviews and open discussions. But it also is a place of research and creativity, as a choreography college is held there yearly. This college is divided in two parts: the students, who get to participate in workshops with international choreographers; the professional dancers, who get to be choreographed on by new choreographers chosen by the artistic director of the dance department.

In 2018, Marie Chouinard (photo with me above) was the artistic director of the Biennale di Danza.
She chose 3 choreographers and 7 professional dancers (which I was selected for), to work together for 6 weeks, in order to put up a full triple bill program to be performed at the end of the creative process.

Now I must express my gratitude.
First, because Madame Chouinard holds a very dear place in my relation with modern dance: the first show I ever went to watch was a mixed program with her ‘Prelude to the afternoon of a faun’ and ‘The rite of spring’, back when I was still a student.
But also, I know that so many people around the world applied to actually be part of the program, which is very generous in all aspects, and only 7 of us were invited to come.

There, I had the chance to work alongside Antonella Albanese, Sara Angius, Mario Gaglione, Marie Schruoffeneger, Giulia Spinelli and Luigi Villotta. All together, me included, we represented 4 diferent countries.
And the three choreographers we had the chance to work with were Maria Chiara De’ Nobili (Italy), Ezgi Gungor (Turkey) and Rebecca Jensen (New-Zealand).

(The seven dancers and producer Silvia Polacco)

Now to be honest, the process was both exhausting, and freshening. I would assume people already expect me to talk about the long rehearsals, the never ending days, the physical work required… But what was exhausting was actually the need of brain work required.
You see, these three choreographers came from complete other backgrounds, diferent horizons, diferent cultures even. We also, as dancers, were selected for our diferences, and all together we more or less represented all dance types, from ballet to hip-hop, and dance theatre to neo-classical. We had never worked together, nor did we know each other. We had diferent expectations on the experience, and very diferent needs physically and mentally speaking.
Therefore, the most tiring part was forever adapting to someone creating on me/us with a certain vocabulary, while adapting to each other, and adapting to the context/situation.
Of course, there was also the fact that each choreographer was to create a 20 minutes piece including all 7 dancers. That required from us learning 20 minutes of movement and/or brain work, 3 times. That brings me to talk to what happened from there.

We rehearsed all day, 2 hours per rehearsal, 3 times a day, 2hours break in total.
The morning schedule was also built so that each choreographer would have the chance to explore a way to give out workshops, in order to later generate material, create, and impose their own style. Choreographers took then turns, every day giving their own warmups, one by one, following straight away with their seperate rehearsal times.
This warm up idea was both a good and a bad idea. Obviously it was a great idea as it became then a platform to experiment on how does one create a basis to its language, but it wasn’t that great either considering that the amount of time to do so was very short, and that we, as 7 diferent people had our own needs in order to get our machines going and be ressourceful during the day, especially when that day was filled with so many different genres.

I loved every single minute of that time. Of course, some days were really hard to deal with, because of the fatigue, because of life taking over, and for other reasons too. But I must say that I found my share of interest in every of these 3 beautiful choreographing ladies. All of them came in with ideas about what they wanted to do, even when it was unclear, they knew where they wanted to head to. Each choreography was to have personality and soul from the very first day.
The choreographing process took a lot of improvisation, as well as movement analysis. We worked a lot with video, filming ourselves, watching clips… And it was a new way for me to work, as I was mostly used to be told what to do, or create but consciously directing my patterns and my qualities.

For those who read this article in order to find out what and how the choreographers were like, the telling is not my business. I had as much fun performing and creating every piece and if it was to do again, I would do it without even questioning myself (though I would need a very long holiday before re-doing it).
All I feel like I can say is that I felt transformed in every single parts of the final evening, and that as a performer is a true gift from a choreographer.
The audience watching might have not seen the difference, at least I would hope they did, but I felt new and fresh at every curtain going up, as much as I was dying and disappearing at every curtain closing. And here the saying is both a metaphore and a way to give clues on how I physically felt too.

The final pieces can be found here:

(Pictures by Andrea Avezzu, copyrights La Biennale di Venezia)

Otherwise the program at the Biennale di Danza was very nice. Marie Chouinard’s Company performed ‘RADICAL VITALITY’ and ‘SOLOS AND DUETS‘.
I keep in mind MARLENE MONTEIRO FREITAS’s piece called ‘BACCHAE-PRELUDE TO A PURGE’ as well as MEG STUART with her company DAMAGED GOODS in ‘BUILT TO LAST’. Each of these piece were of course very different from one another, but they both had the capacity to bring me to another universe, a place making me think and feel on my/our condition, and I found the beauty of dancing again: the combination of movement and idea(l)s.