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Emio Greco / PC

'Hell'

by Rosella Simonari

5 May 2009 -- Teatro Valle, Rome

Unlike many other contemporary dance companies, Emio Greco / PC has, since the beginning of its existence in 1996, attempted “to capture dance in words” with a manifesto where the body, and most of all an awareness of one’s own body, is central and guides the ink on paper so to speak. The “7even necessities”, as the manifesto is called, is composed of seven statements called necessities to underline the urge of the two artists to communicate and share their work in words as much as in movement. The fifth statement says “it is necessary for me to tell you that I can multiply my body”, and it is particularly important for “Hell”, a dance which premiered in 2006 and which represents a kind of underground journey into creativity.

In this piece, there are in fact two dark figures, dressed in black that emerge among the other dancers. In the talk before the performance, conducted by dance scholar and critic Ada D’Adamo, Greco specified that both these figures have to do with the creative act -- in that the choreographer is both creator and dancer in the piece s/he is creating, resembling the “Divine Comedy” in which Dante is both poet and traveller, and is both inside and outside his work. Greco dances one of the two dark figures and Sawami Fukuoka the other. She has a similar body shape to that of Greco and has played a kind of alter ego to him in “Rimasto Orfano” (2002). However, their presence on stage is different, in that Greco moves from darkness and isolation towards the group of dancers, while she remains fixed in her role of the alien figure.

Also in a similar vein of the twin role of creator/performer, the figure of PC (from Emio Greco / PC), that is Pieter C. Scholten, is fundamental because he contributes to giving each piece its overall sense and structure. Scholten is not a dancer. He comes from the theatre, and even though he remains in the wings of the company’s work, he plays a big part in it.

The piece opens with an unusual prologue, a series of dance sketches inspired by musical and cabaret acts. As the audience enters, the dancers are already on stage wearing black tunics and dancing to commercial music which is loud and almost fastidious. The costumes and the overemphasis on certain movements create a powerful contrast, which is more Greco’s personal evocation of part of his past than a parody. In fact, he began his dancing career in cabarets in France and has great respect for this type of dance.

After this prologue, the scene becomes rarefied, and the music changes into softer glimpses of noise with the incursion of the sound of little bells. It is simple but effective -- a bare tree on the left and a door made out of light bulbs on the right. Through this door, the dancers enter one by one, each carrying a music stand. One of them starts smoking a cigarette. Then the others follow. Is this the beginning of the journey? Is it part of it? It does not really matter because, as Greco said, “there are actions, but there is no narration”.

And there are various actions which remain impressed in my mind. One is the tango scene between Greco and one of the female dancers. It does not have any of the tango moves, but it is as audacious with Greco moving his legs in a clumsy way and with the other dancer opening her legs with her arms on the floor. Another beautiful scene occurs towards the end when the whole company, grouped in couples, is completely naked and dances to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Movement-wise, there are recurring arm motions, in particular one with a straight arm and a spinal torsion -- a dense and powerful movement, as if the air were being cut. There are also some ballet steps used like quotations, as if the dancers intended to evoke some ghosts from the past. This journey ends with a beginning, as the final parts are already a step into “Purgatory”, another  piece by Emio Greco / PC.


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