Dance, in Italy, can’t afford metaphysical discourses about time. When you are starving, you just withdraw into yourself. DROME tries to give oxygen, to open new perspectives that, in our country, look like unexpected glimmers of corporeal poetry, physical theatre and extremely accurate movements. We are talking about DV8, a company led by Lloyd Newson, the creator of choreographies that burst through time, and rip through reality.

Dance, in Italy, is a starving caryatid. She begs, and loses weight. She could even disappear. Sometimes, she has to welcome some passionate enthusiasts, a little flamenco in the shade of the Coliseum, a badly danced tango passed off as Argentinean. Every so often, the umpteenth self-centred choreographer shows up, and orchestrates a handful of hysterical movements, striving to be original at all costs. And she bends, like a flower with a limp stem. She should keep her weak head up, instead, and look somewhere else, at least for the sake of her followers, who beg for some sense, beauty, and technique, and would love to come back home from a contemporary art show with a lump in their throat. If she only did so, she – the dance – could  see who her real companions are: Terpsichore’s daughters, who speak different languages from the one spoken by Dante. They are made of steel and sweat, and move toward a sort of interdisciplinary and total idea of theatre. Among their admirers, there are choreographers who are also film directors, such as Alain Platel.

Their art is sublimated by dancers who are also interpreters, such as the creatures looked after by Pina Bausch. She would see dancers flirting with scenic materials, spoken-word pieces and shouted ones, scented steps, feelings on tiptoe, and distorted lines. Such a visual and concrete poetry is made of body and rhythm. If she had a look at somewhere else, the Italian dance would discover realities where the time of a show – and probably the time in general – vanishes in honour of the body and the viewer. She would discover the DV8, just to mention one. The Dance and Video 8 was formed in 1986, under the lead of the demiurge-choreographer Lloyd Newson.

Videos, shows, and films for television: all that the DV8 have produced ever since belong to a variety of dimensions, not only spatial or temporal, but of purposes, which are always different and lively, and constantly profound. No dancer is part of the company permanently. Each project is like a sort of organic body that breaths with its own time and techniques. The viewer is always on the verge of the unforeseen, because, when the DV8 perform, it happens that the eyes (of the viewer) meet the eyes (of the performer), and each dance step is uncovered, bared, filled in.

The en dehors (turn out) becomes insignificant, whereas the hip joints recall a lived experience exploring time, culture, religion, and society. Texts, theatre, and dance explore us. This is the time we live in. The classical ballet is enriched with a specific, problematic nature that was missing, and that, along with a rigorous technique, is turned into a moving masterpiece. «We search for a movement able to express the meaning, or the idea, that we intend to present instant by instant; if the movement fails in this task, we use words and songs to support it», well-said words pronounced by Lloyd Newson.

The DV8 have already come to Italy many times. Strange Fish and Enter Achilles were awarded with the Prix Italia in 1994 and 1996, respectively. In The Cost of Living (2003), we have seen two women forced to leave the Royal Ballet of London because one was too tall, and the other too fat. There were also a 150-kilogram (330-pound) man, a very agile seventy-four-year old, and a man without legs. Just For Show (2005) was co-produced by Romaeuropa Festival, which is an event held in the Italian capital, and considered as a sort of oxygen tank for those Italians who are sincerely and deeply fond of dance, and follow its deviations, evolutions, and involutions.

The DV8 came and offered roses to the viewers, challenging them on the value of a dance step. They performed a step of two that seemed to have no weight, space, and time. They brought in the theme of homosexuality, provided that loving a person of the same sex can be considered as a “theme”. However, they did it with the gentleness of a dreamy French music: with elegance, when it was required, and sweat. The intervals, if necessary, were abolished. Transposed into dance, there was the red nightmare of the disease that has destroyed the immune system of many people, including the angel Nureyev. All this profound sense never betrays the lightness, technique, lifts, and features of the Romantic ballet. It is all in one go, along with rhythm, movement, and body. Timeless, in time, and out of time.

Elisa Cappelli

DV8, To Be Straight With You, photographer: Matt Nettheim, courtesy of DV8
DV8, To Be Straight With You, photographer: Matt Nettheim, courtesy of DV8
DROME 17 – the TIME issue, cover by Nathalie Daoust

Published on DROME 17 – the TIME issue


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