In 1881, the Gran Ballo Excelsior, one of the most successful Italian dances of the 19th century, debuted at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. These were crucial years for the affirmation of modern European culture and identity; years characterised by the industrial revolution and colonial imperialism, the triumph of science, the struggle between civilisation and the barbarity of obscurantism.
If these themes across the entire structure of the Gran Ballo, it can be understood why Salvo Lombardo, heading the company Chiasma, has chosen to use it as a point of reference for his new production. Commencing with the ballet, in fact, the Italian choreographer and dancer constructs a performance aimed at questioning the current concept of modernity.
His Excelsior appears as a container of narratives that frame the European political and social situation through the specific lens of the representation of the body and the exoteric imaginaries that the present proposes once more through its languages, images and media. The result is a choreographic score that grinds movements and music together, returning them to the present as traces of a past that is closer than we may think.
Salvo Lombardo is an Italian perfomer, coreographer and director who bases his work on a constant research of a relation between theatre, dance and visual art. He lives and works in Rome. His works were presented in the main festivals and theatres in Italy. In 2015-2016 he was resident choreographer at Anghiari Dance Hub where he worked at the project Casual Bystanders based on a choreographic pattern representing an archive of “not-extraordinary” gestures proceeding from kinetic fragments of common people observed in public places. From 2017 he is one of the associated artists of the Festival Oriente Occidente, main co-producer of the performance Present Continuous inspired by a memory system of gestures which stem from a night’s work at a music club and also the interactive installation in augmented reality titled Reappearances conceived for the MART Museum of Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto and involving the participation of the local community. In 2017 he was guest choreographer at Aura Dance Theatre of Kaunas (Lithuania) for which he created the performance Twister studying the relationship between gestures memory, play and sociality. Currently he is working on the project L’esemplare capovolto which includes performative actions, installations, lectures, workshops and Excelsior.
concept, choreography, direction: Salvo Lombardo
performance: Jaskaran Anand, Cesare Benedetti, Lily Brieu, Lucia Cammalleri, Leonardo Diana, Fabritia D’Intino, Daria Greco
and with Around Excelsior workshop dancers
choreography collaborator: Daria Greco
music: Fabrizio Alviti
cultural advisor: Viviana Gravano
film contribution: Isabella Gaffè
Homo Homini Lupus video: Filippo Berta
organisation: Sabrina Chiarelli
production: Chiasma, Roma
co-production: Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris; Festival Oriente Occidente, Rovereto; Fabbrica Europa, Florence; Romaeuropa Festival, Rome; Versiliadanza, Florence
support: Teatro della Toscana / Pontedera Teatro, ACS Abruzzo
within the project Residenze coreografiche Lavanderia a Vapore 3.0 / Piemonte dal Vivo
[foto: Marco Spada]