Atlas of Gestures/Dance 1866 Virgilio Sieni Turns Genoa into a Stage
Can a society that has lost sight of the meaning of relationships over the course of time come together once again and reshape its coexistence? To this end, Virgilio Sieni, together with the Goethe-Institut Genoa, choreographically explored Genoa.
Last year, professional dancers and 150 Genoese residents – women, men and children – were made part of the Atlante del gesto_Genova/Tanz 1866 project. Led by the choreographer Virgilio Sieni, they explored the meaning of relationships and possibilities of coexistence.
The name of the project refers to the picture atlas by the German art historian Aby Warburg, which Sieni appropriates to reveal that gestures, just like pictures, are a means for transporting our cultural traditions and social memories.
On the occasion of Warburg’s 150th birthday, Sieni makes gestures the common theme of several workshops, in which he implements choreographies tied to biblical episodes about teaching, flight, compassion and crucifixion. Together, the participants create a community of gestures.
Choreographies for the eyes and earsIn late March, the results were presented publicly as choreographies at symbolically significant locations in the city of Genoa. Some of these choreographies cannot only be viewed, but also “listened to.” Movements are transformed into sounds using a new technology developed by Casa Paganin-InfoMus as part of the European project Horizon 2020 ICT DANE. Recipients are given the unique opportunity to “see” dance with their eyes shut.
The city as a stageFor three days, four different choreographies were shown – some of them unique, some were repetitions. In “Facing the Eyes of Others,” Virgilio Sieni and Giuseppe Comuniello, a blind dancer, met an audience of sighted and blind citizens who were invited to actively participate in the encounter. Touches and the resulting sense of closeness produced spontaneous, unforeseen dances that created awareness for the other person.
ExodusThe choreography “Exodus” was a cycle of choreographic actions on refugees and displacement, on the journey that some people and peoples undertake to save their own lives. The project participants were stationed in different locations and gave the audiences of the different choreographies the opportunity to choose on their own. In this way, the spectators were sent on symbolic treks during which the artists always paid attention to one another. The result was an “atlas of glances, approaches, support and caring, but also of falling (down).”
Compassion / Mother and Child, Father and ChildBased on Western tradition, which assigns the mother to her children in a very specific aspect of intimacy, pain and beauty, a dance was developed entitled “Compassion / Mother and Child, Father and Child,” which uses gestures to consider the final relationship as well as the origin of life. Five couples, consisting of mother/father and child, explored the origin of mankind at the same time.
PauseFor “Pause,” two choreographic actions, one interpreted by an amateur chorus, the other by a group of citizens, “conversed” with one another about the subject of the crucifixion. The interpretation centred on a heavy wooden beam that symbolized a new world of solidarity (“mondo novo”).
Atlas der Gesten
Dancing in the City
During the Workshops
Participants of the Workshop
Dancers of Atlas der Gesten
Virgilio Sieni at the Workshop
Virgilio Sieni shows the Choreographie
With about 1,000 visitors, the project created a community (of gestures). The participants and the Goethe-Institut Genoa are looking forward to continuing their collaborative work.