Birds don’t sing when they fly high
Bird’s Eye View, performed last Friday at the Italian Cultural Institute in London by dancer and choreographer Simona Bertozzi is the closest thing to a flying lesson you will ever experience. With powerful, broken gestures and impressive mimetic qualities, the dancer takes ownership of a bird’s anatomy and flight mechanics, and drags the viewer into its aerial world. Inspired by Roger Callois’ four categories of games, the solo is a mesmerising physical trip between human and animal states.
La danzatrice Simona Bertozzi porta all’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Belgrave Square, Londra, Bird’s Eye View, un assolo ispirato alle riflessioni sul gioco di Roger Callois. Un berretto da aviatore è tutto ciò che le serve, il resto lo fanno la precisione spiazzante del gesto e l’impressionante capacità mimetica della danzatrice. L’assolo di Simona Bertozzi è una lezione tecnica su come sparire nelle altezze, abbandonare la terra e i suoi capricci, e affidarsi alle leggi fisiche del volo.
We enter the grand entrance hall in Belgrave Square and we suddenly feel that the space has its own soul. We climb the staircase for receiving guests, up to the first floor room for entertaining. Built in the first half of the 19th Century and designed by late Georgian architect Basevi, the house brings us to another dimension, out from the spotlight, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Seated in the large first floor room, our view is blessed: high ceilings, clean and simple finishes and, above all, the glimpse of the adjacent spacious room with a white grand piano. Dancer Simona Bertozzi is perfectly merging her body into these walls and lines and corners, her arms stretching and measuring distances, her legs looking for the right balance, her body shifting its weigh to try new shapes. This is a beautiful musicless dance, purely mechanical, so focused and precise that we start to feel in our body the surfaces that Simona touches, the weight of her limbs, the density of the surrounding air. Then, we start to fly. Now our limbs are folded, now we struggle with pressure, and gravity, and unexpected gusts of wind. We dare assault the sky, warming with our presence the chill of space. And when the sky is gentle, we can even attempt some gliding flights, the air sustaining our tense, aerodynamic body.
This solitary, obstinate bird, absorbed in the mechanical of flight as nothing else mattered in this world, drinks the air with its capricious twists, climbs the sky with grace, and knows how the clouds feel. But something seems to interrupt this private exploration, as the noise of the world starts to fill the air: we are somewhere near a park, with people and children laughing loudly. Our attention distracted, our trajectory interrupted, we feel the irresistible attraction of the ground, of a togetherness which the sky denies. There is something sweet and graceful and mad in these new trajectories, something human and poetic and playful. This state of grace, though, gradually turns into a darker atmosphere. The soundscape gets creepier, with sinister textures full of anticipation, suggesting hidden dangers and uncertainty. The dancer’s movements become fractured, our bird is lost in the unease atmosphere in which no secrets are revealed. The final scene, maybe the most disturbing one, suggests a physical mutation, and the uncomfortable feeling caused by changes of shapes, weight and balance.
Third in a series of four performances presenting the work of independent Italian choreographers in collaboration with Tripspace, Bird’s Eye View is a mesmerising exploration of flight, a playful and extremely absorbing journey into the physical reality of a bird and its view. Bertozzi’s work, forth episode of the project Homo Ludens, which takes inspiration from Roger Callois’ four categories of games, focuses on Mimicry – “When the individual plays to believe, to make himself or others believe that he is different from himself”. Not only the dancer shows the ability to gain ownership of nonhuman perceptions, but she also enables the audience to converse with the natural world through offering a credible cross-section of the daily life of a bird. Her perspective is physiological, anatomical, scientific, and it is through this lens, together with her impressive technical precision, that we experience an authentic, breathtaking bird’s flight.
The show was played at
Italian Cultural Institute
39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX
Friday 20 October 2017
Bird’s Eye View
Concept Simona Bertozzi, Marcello Briguglio
Coreography and dance Simona Bertozzi
Music ¾ had been eliminated
Lighting and set Antonio Rinaldi
Costumes Simona Bertozzi, Marcello Briguglio
Production Nexus 2012
With the support of Regione Emilia Romagna – Assessorato alla Cultura (2012)
With the support of H(ABITA)T – Rete di Spazi per la Danza/Mousiké
Winner of the Audience Prize as The Best Solo at 17Masdanza, International Contemporary Dance Festival of The Canary Islands 2012 | Selected work by Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013