Dance Festival

Augusth 29th - September 8th

While continuing to explore the new silk road, Oriente Occidente 2019 looks eastwards from Italy with a vigilant eye on current affairs and the most pressing issues of today. This year, the 39th edition of the Festival, is characterised by a pluralistic approach to contemporary poetic visions that touches upon a host of topics, from the new commercial routes that open up to cultural exchanges, to the question of climate change and the thorny issue of migration; from South Korea’s gentle political thaw with North Korea, embraced by the world at large, to the psychological and social cages of our modern world. And the aim of all this? To instill the audience with emotions, powerful images and aesthetic visions while at the same time planting a seed of doubt and curiosity.

The Guandong Modern Dance Company, the oldest modern dance company in the country, represents China with a piece about human relationships (Sumeru) by the artistic director of the company Liu Qi. Nineteen warrior monks from the Shaolin Temple in Henan province, China, perform in one of Belgian-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s most successful works, Sutri. It is the journey of a western man in the universe of Buddhist spirituality and the most extreme physicality of martial arts which represents an integral part of the Shaolin Monks’ doctrine.

After her success in last year’s Festival, the South Korean choreographer Eun-me Ahn makes a return with the brand new North Korea Dance in a brilliantly colourful exploration of the artistic similarities and differences between her country and North Korea, of which so little is known, except for the grandiose military parades in honour of the dictator. The extraordinary fascination that the Orient wields, sits uncomfortably with China’s reputation as the “great polluter” but recent data has shown that investment in renewable energy is witness to a change of direction, especially on the part of the Chinese government. Nevertheless, artists are still determined to expose humanity’s destruction of the planet and this is clear too in the work that two Chinese designers have created for the multi-media set design of Frozen Songs by the Norwegian artist Ina Christel Johannesen, a pièce dealing with the fragility of the earth’s ecosystem. And it is this topic that Oriente Occidente has chosen as starting point for a series of workshops and investigations in partnership with MUSE of Trento and the Museo Civico of Rovereto.

No less relevant today is the topic of exile addressed by the Brazilian choreographer who works in Belgium, Claudio Bernardo. The third stage of his complex artistic project around Euripides’ Trojan Women, entitled #Frontiera, will have its world premiere this year at Oriente Occidente. There is a subtle connection between the women of Troy of the past and today’s women, waiting on the seashore in the hope of a better future and, in this performance, accompanied by Giovanna Marini’s vaguely liturgical musical chorus in ancient Greek.

In focusing on the evolution and development of choreography in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, this year’s Festival hosts the daring physicality of Pál Frenák. In his work Birdie, the artist investigates the idea of walls and barriers, both psychological and physical, historical and social, and the possible means of overcoming them. Then comes the choreography of two young artists, the Slovak Martin Talaga, with his performance Soma at the Mart and Beatrix Simko’s intriguing duet, performed together with the Finnish artist Jenna Jalonen around the theme of origins and the isolation of their two countries within Europe (Long time no see!).

This year’s Festival boasts many co-productions with international partners but, as usual, the up and coming new generation of Italian artists takes the forefront. The 2019 Festival welcomes three  “Associated artists”: new entry Luna Cenere presents Zoé | Appunti sulla nuda vita, first step of the project Geneologia; Davide Valrosso, from Puglia, performs his solo piece Who is Joseph? And the Neapolitan Pietro Marullo presents his new creation HIVE our hydrological need of cosmic lines.

At the cutting edge of the Italian dance scene, Aterballetto makes its debut at the festival with Dreamers, a triptych starring the Israeli Ohad Naharin, together with Japanese Rihoko Sato and the ever more promising Philippe Kratz, the company’s internal choreographer. Yet another national excellence, Michela Lucenti, habitué of the Festival, returns this year with two very different pièces: the first ever performance of Madre investigates the strength of ancestral connections and the ability to shake free from the magmatic ties with one’s origins, and a solo performance Concerto Fisico for body and voice.

The residence project KommTanz, started by the Rovereto dance company Abbondanza/Bertoni, is this year host to Tommaso Monza and Claudia Rossi Valli whose debut performance entitled Sabba ed Evocazioni expresses the need for meeting and dialogue in human society.
With Mourad Merzouki the Festival opens onto the international panorama of an “ennobled and contaminated” hip hop associated with this highly acclaimed artist who remains unrivalled on the French scene. He is the first artist emerging from the urban dance scene to become director of a National Choreographic Centre and in his latest, startling work Vertikal, the choreographer explores new perspectives, exploding the myth of gravity and the ground, with ten intrepid hip hoppers ready to take flight.

Dance and acrobatics, new circus and parkour come together this year en plein air in the city streets and squares. Outstanding both on the trampoline and the vertical pole, the four intrepid French-Swiss artists of the Cirque La Compagnie will have the public wide-eyed with wonder, while the funambulists of Cirque Rouages transport spectators into another sphere. French parkour meets physical theatre in Urban Playground’s pyrotechnical creation and Stopgap Company’s dance interweaves human strength and vulnerability with poetic realism.
And finally, for the Progetto Manifattura, the French Compagnie Retouramont confirms Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves made visible in their multi-media aerial performance.

Happy Festival to everyone!


Lanfranco Cis
Artistic director