A project combining dance, sports, and vocal expression that places the athletic gesture of a community of women, or Individuals socialized as women, at the center of research and practice as an act of resistance and, above all, transformative strength.
In its etymology and in the perception of the collective imagination, athletics is associated with the idea of competition and physical prowess. It is an opportunity for the body to demonstrate its strength, agility, and endurance, as well as to build alliances, agreements, and trajectories of exchange.
ATHLETES project will bring together a group of dancers, athletes and former competitive champions, along with women of all ages and backgrounds. They will be joined by a vocal coach who will use the vocal expression inherent in sports disciplines to create a choral texture in which every woman present can also embody her own voice.
All of them: athletes of gesture united in a multifaceted and cross-disciplinary exercise, where the level of athleticism unfolds in the collective and performative process of bodies, emphasizing an attitude of utmost care and attention to different needs and modes of presence.
In dance, choreographic movements, sports gestures, as well as vocal expression, bodies find themselves amidst agreements and interconnections, reciprocal events, collaboration, and cohabitation. They build alliances through alignment actions. Even solitary actions acquire their maximum potential when projected into a sensory and relational dimension that extends beyond their individual reach.
In these intersections between presence and power, the ATHLETES project aims to situate itself, seeking a rhythmic exercise in continuous reshaping and listening to the vital, embodied, and collective strength of a gathering and plurality of bodies.
Within this community of women, questioning athleticism becomes an opportunity to reconsider the narrative of the ideal body as a discriminating value, in favor of a renewed performativity of all bodies. New bodies exercised in transformation. Bodies that unlearn, above all, not to compete with each other, demanding and agile, due to the desire for revolutionary performativity, to celebrate well- being and vitality.
To initiate the research process and acquire an initial choreographic suggestion, I envisioned a reference iconography that could evoke the aforementioned anatomical and choral aspects while also opening up a series of further reflections and visionary interstices necessary for the development of the work and dear to me, especially in relation to corporeality and the value of interconnection in movement:
-The orchestration of bodies
-The generative value of gathering
-The exercise and care of gesture as social practices of resistance
-The traversal and crossroads in the relationship with space and the construction of gestural archives.
The iconography in question is a mosaic, stylistically influenced by African mosaic art, located in Sicily, in the Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina, a large Sicilian residence from the 4th century AD declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The artwork depicts ten women engaged in what appears to be a sports competition. Ten female athletes with gymnastic equipment (dumbbell, discus, ball…) showcasing bodies dedicated to exercise, wearing the subligar (the female slip of that time) and the mamillary band, also known as strophium, covering their chests, precursors of the modern bikini.
While male athletes have been celebrated in ceramics, statues, and frescoes since ancient times, the mosaic of Villa del Casale is one of the very rare representations of female competition in antiquity.
In this artwork, what emerges is emerge is not so much an aesthetic ideal, but the demonstration of strength and vigor that emanates from the gestures of the ten women, symbolically crowned by the rose headdress worn by one of them.
The Palestriti (the original name of the mosaic) not only showcase the beauty and power of individual gestures but also the need to celebrate them and make them a reason for collective affirmation. The power of the group becomes a performative action, multiplying the forms of exercise into additional trajectories of reciprocity, support, and exchange. Interconnection.
In this direction, the artwork suggests substantial references for immersing myself in the choreographic dimension that requires extreme awareness of individual actions in order to generate a broader and layered design of trajectories, vectors, geometries, and resonances.
But there’s more!
The female athletes of Villa del Casale suggest a ritual imbued with grace and beauty, revealing a female community that finds cohesion and redemption through bodily practice. It is a form of female empowerment that values and celebrates individual achievements, elevating them to the collective level.
ATHLETES is structured through various and unique TERRITORIAL EVENTS.
In each space/context/territory where the project is hosted, efforts will be made to involve athletes or former athletes who wish to transmit their sports practices, vocabulary, and vocalizations.
There will also be a public call for women of all ages and backgrounds who want to engage in a shared experience and practice of body language, transforming it into a collective dance infused with sports movements but shaped by individual anatomical experiences.
The community of athletes and women gathered in the territory will be joined by four dancers from the Company who will accompany the project at each stage. In addition to sharing the group experience, they will present choreographic compositions inspired by the Palestriti mosaic in various spaces and contexts.
The vocal coach, also part of the original project team along with the dancers, will transform the vocalizations conveyed by the participating athletes into a choral texture to be expanded and used as vocal/singing exercises for all the women present, creating a sonic and rhythmic body for interaction.
DURATION AND WORKING METHODS
At least 8 days of work with the Company’s dancers, the vocal coach, the athletes, and the community of women gathered in the territory. The maximum number of participants will be determined based on the capacity of the rehearsal and performance spaces (minimum 10 and maximum 30).
The work can be imagined both indoors and outdoors, always considering the suitability of the spaces for the realization of the work process and its presentation to the public.
IMPACT ON THE TERRITORY
Local sports associations (ASD)
Women/citizens and local communities of women or indviduals socialized as women
Possible focus on girls and/or teenagers
FIRST ACTION – ATHLETES – BOLOGNA – DECEMBER 2023
Period: November 28th to December 5th, with public opening on December 5th
@ Atelier Sì in the frame of Artists in ResidenSì Bologna 2023
concept, conception and choreography Simona Bertozzi
with Arianna Brugiolo, Federica D’Aversa, Valentina Foschi (dancers), Ester Balassini, Erika Morri (former hammer throw and rugby Italian champions)
and Adriana Bernardi, Luana Checchia, Elisa Tinti, Daina Pignatti, Marieva Vivarelli, Carolina Yerovi
sport gesture and tutoring Ester Balassini and Erika Morri
vocal training and choir direction Meike Clarelli
original music creations Meike Clarelli, Davide Fasulo
project curator Ariadne Mikou
costumes Katia Kuo
PRESS REVIEW EXCERPTS
The idea is to reveal the poetic aspect and inherent creativity of athletic gesture by enhancing its constitutive exactness in an openness to choreographic multiplicity that passes through the transmission of a relational code.
The mystery of the gesture remains intact, albeit broken down into its smallest constituent elements, but in this process the body rediscovers itself in a conscious dimension of exercise and obstinacy, at the intersection of choreography, sport and ritual vocality.
Emanuela Zanon, Juliet Art Magazine (full article in Italian HERE)
The residency at Atelier Sì that has just ended thus leaves several paths to follow that Simona Bertozzi and her dancers intend to continue by meeting other women and sportswomen in more Italian territories.
An interesting mapping of women’s communities on the national territory that reason about this energy of liberation and empowerment through the valuable encounter between dance and sport could emerge.
Emanuele Regi, Gagarin Orbite Culturali (full article in Italian HERE)