Dance, the homage of the Reggio Parma Festival to Maguy Marin

To the great French choreographer, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2016 Venice Biennale, a rich program of meetings, shows, stages and video screenings will be dedicated between Parma and Reggio Emilia from May until next November

The project ‘Maguy Marin – La Passione dei Possibili’ conceived by the Reggio Parma Festival, scheduled from May to December 2023 at the Teatro Regio and Teatro Due in Parma, at the Valli Municipal Theater, Ariosto Theater and Cavallerizza Theater in Reggio Emilia. A schedule of shows and initiatives, sponsored by the French Embassy in Italy, to make known to the general public the works of one of the most eclectic and courageous choreographers and artists on the entire international scene, capable of interpreting, through dance, the body and space, the complexity of contemporary man and his contradictions.

Daughter of Spanish immigrants fleeing Franco’s dictatorship, active since 1976, chameleonic in her search for movement, Maguy Marin is an artist who has defined her own original style. In her creations, dance is imbued with a marked theatricality. If the scenes or characters are often comical, the general tone is apocalyptic and the viewer is always poised between smile, amazement and anxiety. Bold and combative, the choreographer has been able to accompany and artistically translate the upheavals of our time, without sparing joyful and furious punches on the muzzle of barbarism, inscribing within her creations a renewal of “this something that is dance”, always keeping before him all the possibilities that dance itself has at its disposal.

The project stems from the will of the Reggio Parma Festival and all its members – the Municipality of Parma, the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, the Theaters Foundation of Reggio Emilia, the Teatro Due Foundation and the Teatro Regio di Parma Foundation – to collaborate for the creation in 2023 of an ambitious project, which ranges from dance to music to theatre, and which sees among its first and main protagonists Maguy Marin, whose new show Reggio Parma Festival co-produces and who dedicates an important tribute to her and her production in the course of the year.

A journey full of emotions that kicks off on 31 May with the performance of ‘May B’ at the Teatro Regio in Parma, the timeless masterpiece by Maguy Marin, with over 750 performances on five continents. A work conceived in 1981, present in the company’s repertoire for over 40 years, inspired by the tragicomic world and the salvific cynicism of the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. At its debut it shook everything that was thought of dance, it was an explosion whose echo has not finished resounding. The show will be preceded by the screening of the documentary Maguy Marin – L’urgence d’agir (30 May at 6 pm – Sala degli Specchi, Teatro Municipale Valli, Reggio Emilia) by director David Mambouch, dedicated to the history of the pièce ‘May B’ and to the lived experience of the protagonists who interpreted it. A meeting with the choreographer follows.

In autumn, the project comes alive with a busy calendar of cult shows and with the Italian debut of the new creation signed by the French artist. ‘Singspiele’ (14 and 15 November, Teatro Due, Parma) is a 2014 performance, performed by David Mambouch and with the scenography by Benjamin Lebreton. Between declination of the body and gestural research, it expresses the most experimental style of the French choreographer going beyond the confines of dance tout court. Focusing on anonymous or recognizable faces that catch our eye, ‘Singspiele’ is a work of listening to what they tell us about their absent bodies. It is the particular story that can be read on these silent faces that will always escape us as it is not immediately intelligible.

The Italian debut of the new creation, the title of which will be unveiled as soon as possible, is scheduled for November 18 and 19 at the Teatro Cavallerizza in Reggio Emilia, as part of the Open Festival. In this show, co-produced by the Reggio Parma Festival, the choreographer questions current issues, with the ironic and powerful gaze that distinguishes her. Our bodies have become objects to be watched, which can be filmed and recorded. Our seemingly free choices reveal our inclination to follow majority opinion, to opt for what is fabricated by advertising, to accept the colonization of our minds by the media or influencers.

In Parma we continue with two shows among the most representative of Maguy Marin’s work. ‘Nocturnes’ (November 25th and 26th, Teatro Due), where the choreographer challenges and fascinates the spectator with extreme solutions and a creative imagination made up of small, polite and ironic sketches. A sparse scenography is the stage for unfinished encounters, seemingly inexplicable gestures, appearances and disappearances of mysterious characters. Also on the bill is ‘Umwelt’ (December 15, Teatro Regio), a show from 2004 that she enthused and caused discussion, a performance “of dance without dance” to tell the frenzy of life. The performers appear and disappear between the interstices of panels and mirrors arranged horizontally on the stage and, hampered by a strong wind, they tell, often in a frenetic way, the daily life.

On 16 December the project ends at the Ariosto Theater in Reggio Emilia with two shows interpreted by the MM Contemporary Dance Company directed by the choreographer Michele Merola. In ‘Duo d’Eden’ two dancers interpret a man and a woman. Flesh-colored overalls that highlight their nudity and a very long hair wig for her, represent Adam and Eve immersed in a path of sensuality, eros, defense, attack, in a not so peaceful, safe and idyllic world. A long-awaited national preview instead for ‘Grosse Fugue’, on stage four women and an extraordinary piece of music such as Die Grosse Fuge by Ludwig van Beethoven. Created in 2001 for the Maguy Marin Company, it will be presented again in national preview for the Reggio Parma Festival in the interpretation of four dancers of the MM Contemporary Dance Company, accompanied by live music by the soloists of the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento, in the version for quartet of strings.

The national premiere of the piece is then scheduled for July 2024 at the Bolzano Dance Festival. In the Sala Verdi of the Ariosto Theater (4.30 pm) on 16 December the film ‘Umwelt de l’autre côté des miroirs’ will be screened, directed by David Mambouch, which intertwines the two sides of the homonymous show. The front plane seen from a theater hall, and the other, invisible to spectators, from the other side of the mirrors. A re-examination of the foundations of the artist’s presence on the scene and many questions about the act of creation will be raised in the workshop which will feature Maguy Marin. The program includes two weeks of advanced training, exchange, dialogue aimed at professional artists of dance, theater and music, to set in motion the ability to invent and compose, with practical and concrete exercises (from 14 to 18 November, from 20 to 24 November 2023 at the Teatro Due in Parma, free participation, max 16 participants identified by selection) alongside a round table scheduled for November 25 in Parma which, in addition to Maguy Marin, will involve numerous guests, including Olivier Neveux, professor of history and of theatrical aesthetics at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon.