Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Before we headed out to Italy, Sadie and I were in search of a space in Venice where we could work on some silk skills and possibly put a duet routine together. If some of you are not aware, Sadie is an incredible contemporary circus performer. Here is her website if you want to see more...www.silk-nyc.com.
For obvious reasons, the search for just about everything is slightly more difficult in Venice, so you can imagine what it was like trying to find an open space with high enough ceilings, appropriate rigging setup, and one that is reasonably priced.
After putting out some feelers to different contacts in Italy, one of my close friends from the Italian Olympic team, Igor Cassina, put me in touch with a woman, Wanda Moretti, who has an incredible aerial dance company based out of Venice. After various unsuccessful attempts at getting in touch over the past few months, we finally had our first encounter this past weekend, and it was a memorable first meeting.
Wanda and her dance crew had just returned from being on tour and threw a homecoming party at her studio in Mestre (first town on mainland outside of Venice). Like all Italian hosts she went out of her way to make us feel included even though we had never met. In Italy, if you are a friend of a friend, you are family. We thought this would be great first meet. See the space. Meet the other performers and some new people. Get off the island for a while and see something different.
Just getting outside of Venice was an adventure in itself. The total distance we had to travel was at most, two miles. An hour boat ride, 20 minutes on a bus, then on foot for about forty five minutes and we made it. It was that easy!! I guess it could have been simplified a bit if we had known where we were going. We walked in circles for close to an hour when we got of the bus, not knowing which direction to take. We came very close to just turning around and heading back home, but alas, the eighth person we asked for directions gave us some useful clues. The dance space was in this park, which I’m sure is very beautiful during the day, but when you are lost in the middle of the night it feels way too much like a scene out of Nightmare of Elm St. We walked down this deserted path in the woods for a while without any contact with another human being. With each step we took, Sadie began digging her nails deeper into my arms. Could this possibly be where the party is at?? We kept walking. Up ahead, we could vaguely make out the silhouette of a body hanging in front of us. I have to say, it was definitely a little disconcerting seeing that image in front of us at that point in the journey (Sadie freaked out a bit too, which made things even more interesting...haha). As we got close we realized it was only an unnecessarily frightening sculpture and that we were safe...for the moment.
Just as we pass the statue, we begin to hear some music and the sound of people laughing. PLEASE LET THIS BE THE PARTY!! We walk around one last building and hallelujah, we had made it.
Amongst the crowd, we find Wanda, who gives us a tour of the space. It’s perfect. It has the feel of an old barn that has been transformed into an aerial space. We see some ideal spots for rigging up the silks we have shipped from the States. As we are looking around the space, Sadie notices a hoop (known as a lyra in the contemporary circus world) sitting in the corner. She lets Wanda know of her affection for hoop and that she has done some performing with it in the past. Within five minutes of hearing this, Wanda is able to convince Sadie to do an impromptu performance for the whole party, and already has an outfit picked out for her to wear. I had been outside stuffing my face on some prosciutto and cheese and by the time I went back in, Sadie was already warming up in her new costume. At this point, the other guests could sense something was happening and they began filtering in one by one. Sadie picked out a song for her performance (Back to Black by Amy Winehouse) and the show was on. It all happened rather quickly...
The 100 or so guests were enthralled from start to finish. Sadie hadn’t performed hoop in a quite sometime before this little show, but it didn’t matter. That music came on and she went in to performer mode. It was amazing to watch, even for me who has seen her perform quite a few times. It only lasted about 3 minutes, but she had captured the audience in that short amount of time and they were in awe. As she finished, they showed their appreciation with thunderous applause and had her come back out for three curtain calls.
After the swarming crowd subsided a bit, we decided to head back home. The party had just started, but we had to perform at the Biennale the next morning so we had to miss out on the rest of the nights festivities. It almost felt like we were at the party specifically to perform! Sadie had done her act for the night, so we could go home...
Getting back home was a lot easier and we both agreed that the night had been well worth the difficult trek out there.
Here's a video I took of Sadie's performance. The quality isn't that great, but you'll at least be able to get the idea...
Wanda Moretti-Vertical Dance Company: http://verticaldancecompany.blogspot.com/p/wanda-moretti_28.html