“Every landscape is a landscape of the soul”. Conversation with Fabrizio Favale
Interview by Lisa Cadamuro – NID Platform staff
Where did the inspiration for this performance come from, and how is this work linked to the wider project Circeo – of which it is a preview?
Almost all my works have a tendency to “danced abstraction” – in other words, I like to say that they “aim to the stars”, to the far distances that leave behind the things of this world. However, they might also come from the Italian landcapes or from the imagery and traditional, archaic culture which is often connected to it. The power of rocky wastelands, of active volcanoes, of remote islands, of transhumances of men and animals, of migrations of wild animals, can’t but influence any of my – inborn, I dare say – desire of abstraction (in fact, as a dancer, I started out with American abstract dance). Maybe, abstract dance and ladscapes have in common a basis which is irreducible. Moreover, it is often the case that geographical places are also mythical and magical places, such as precisely Circeo. Besides the fact that I was born there, this place and its myths have an appeal that reflects many of the forms and traits of the dance I’m working on right now. I am certainly interested in illusion, a sense of magic; but also in the reaction among the elements like in a laboratory, the possibility of triggering and making things react without touching them, the cyclical sense of distance and return, the possibility for the dancer to dialogue with all the forms of nature in an untranslatable and incomprehensible language, and thus even more loaded with charm.
The title, Hekla, is the name of an Icelandic volcano. What is the meaning of this geographical reference, and how does the Icelandic landscape influence the performance?
Iceland has influenced deeply many of my works (possibly all of them), even before I visited it. It has always been present in my own imagery. Every landscape, before being a physical one, is a landscape of the soul. Thus, it is not rare to find Iceland here and the “here” in Iceland. Now, I had to create some sort of previous stage for the performance Circeo, and I thought that it was somewhat necessary to move away, to create some distance. But I wanted it to be a distance between similarities: and Hekla, like Circeo, is a geographical and a mythical place at the same time.
In this work, the actions at center stage are accompanied by other actions which take place on the sides. What is the relationship between the performing space and what happens just outside of it?
Yes, together with Andrea Del Bianco – my collaborator of many years and co-designer of the visual part in many of our creations (he graduated in Chemistry and Fine Arts, and is also a restorer of ancient paper) – we always act on the sides of the scene in order to affect the internal atmosphere and chemistry. We are somewhat like to two alchemists of some indefinite times: we constantly modify the scene, the lights, the density of the atmospheres; and we do this live, right on the spot, in a cyclicality which leads to an open end of strong visual impact.
How come that you chose only male performers for this show?
Somewhat by chance, my company ended up stabilising into an all-male lineup. The dancers themselves often choose and propose to us. Then, by chance, we came across a title which refers to those errant characters in the Odyssey which are precisely a small clucth of sailors. But the work is not not based on this. I am interested in the qualities and abilities of a dancer in accessing a very wide dancing vocabulary. Masculinity and femininity are only two shades of movements among many.
The original music of Hekla is written by Daniela Cattivelli. How did this collaboration – which is now at its third trial – start?
Daniela and I are very different from each other in terms of sensitivity and artisitic path, but this is precisely the reason why our works together acquire an unexpected texture. Our first significant collaboration was established during the creation process of Ossidiana (2014). I invited her to play the music live at the premiere, in Reggio Emilia, without giving her any direction, without listening to even a single note of what she was going to play. We met directly at the dry run, and the result was impressive. We normally talk very little and proceed by intuitions and creation of atmospheres.
You have danced for a long time and founded your own company, Le Supplici, in 1999. From your point of view, what has changed in dance sector over the last 20 years?
The Italian scene is very complex indeed. Given the lack of systematic investments in innovation, distribution programmes, visibility and support to dance are shaped mainly on urgency and desire to survive rather than on rational, farshighted models. Maybe very little exixted 20 years ago in Italy, both in terms of companies and of opportunities; but my sensation is that there was openness to a possible future to be invented, both for those who chose the path of the dancer and those who chose choreography. Then, over the years, we noticed that all innovative features in Italy came from abroad, and no Italian author enjoyed quite the same opportunities. And today things stay the same. My company – and that of some friends and colleagues – was established in this context, and I am still amazed at the fact that we have survived. And perhaps that’s fine: the harshness of a path attracts creativity and new dialogue with the audience. I don’t believe in the so-called “education of the audience”. There is no audience to be educated (I know I am saying something totally unpopular!): I really do believe in the instinctive intelligence of the people, and in my opinion there are either well done and badly done works, works that coincide with the present times and works that leap centuries ahead – and no previous education is suitable for understanding them. Time is necessary as well. I keep on believing that the artist should point at existing worlds, but not necessarily suggest to others how to get there. Others may rather devote their energies to understanding how to enhance, support and access these visions. But you need to believe in this and begin to love your own artists – as it has always been the case in France, for instance. France has always loved its artists, whether they are talented or not. The issue of economical, intellectual, and – I dare say – investments “of the heart”, remains crucial.
This is your third participation to NID Platform. What do you expect from the 2017 edition?
As far as my company is concerned, our participation to the 2015 edition gave us visibility at a very high international level, certainly thanks to the professionalism and outstanding tecnical effectiveness of the NID Staff at the Brescia edition. From there, our work Ossidiana was presentend at the Biennale de la Danse de Lyon 2016, which still follows our projects very closely, and Circeo is now co-produced by Theatre National de la Danse Chaillot of Paris. In my opinion, NID Platform can be an excellent tool for international visibility; but we should keep in mind that it might become a terrible “steamroller” if it forgets the territory it deals with and where it was born, its history, its features, its sensitivity and its faults. Emancipation and a courageous investment are still to be built.
Full Scholarship at the American Dance Festival, Duke University, USA in 1990, Fabrizio Favale as a dancer in 1996 receives the “critics award for best Italian dancer of the year”. As a choreographer in 2011 the “Medal of the President of the Republic to the Italian choreographic talent”. From 1991 to 2000 he was dancer for the Company Virgilio Sieni. In 1999 he founded the group Le Supplici. He is the creator of a series of independent projects dedicated to research including: “Piattaforma della Danza Balinese” for Santarcangelo Festival. From the year 2015 he is the Artistic Director for contemporary dance program in the Teatro Duse Bologna, in a format dedicated to research titled “Circo Massimo”. He works with international musicians like Mountains, Teho Teardo, Daniela Cattivelli, Keith Fullerton Whitman.