The Florence Dance Festival’s Live Performances

Volando Voy Danzando Vengo, headliners at Twilight in the Round

The Florence Dance Festival (FDF), one of the few arts events worldwide that succeeded in having live performances last year, is back for 2022 with plans to expand many of last year’s initiatives. The festival will take place from June 22 to July 24 and will be staged at Santa Maria Novella’s Great Cloister (Chiostro Grande della Basilica di Santa Maria Novella). Featuring world-renowned choreographers and dancers as well as Florence’s local talent, festival organizers hope to encourage everyone to “discover the regenerative effect of live performance.”

The title of this year’s festival is “Wear Art” (Indossare l’arte), a call to the public to embrace productions with live audiences and the fact that, as FDF co-founder Keith Ferrone says, “Especially in turbulent times, art is not only necessary, but it becomes the only stabilizing factor that we can have to be able to reflect on life.”

Despite the numerous challenges associated with hosting a performance-based event series last year during the height of the pandemic, FDF co-founders Marga Nativo and Keith Ferrone were determined to see the festival happen. In order to adapt to COVID-19 safety protocols at the time, Nativo and Ferrone had to be innovative and creative with their approach. This year, the event is continuing the most successful initiatives started last year while capitalizing on the opportunity to have an expanded audience.

In the first two weeks of the festival, some of the highlights include:

June 26 – Open Day Music and Dance

This event will feature numerous talented young dancers in two performances, the Florence Dance Platform and Life&Dance. The Florence Dance Platform, a choreographic showcase for emerging companies, will take place at 6:30 pm. After this will be Life&Dance at 9 pm, a showcase by the teachers and students of the Florence Dance Center under the artistic direction of Marga Nativo, co-founder of FDF and former prima ballerina.

June 28 – Aterballetto National Dance Foundation

Aterballetto is one of the most renowned Italian dance companies, specializing in classical, modern, and contemporary dance. They will be performing two shows, “Shoot Me” and “Bliss.”

“Shoot Me” features brand new choreography by Diego Tortelli interpreted to songs by the English rock band “Spiritualized” as well as poems recited by Jim Morrison. In the following production, “Bliss,” Swedish choreographer Johan Inger’s movement is accompanied by songs from Keith Jarrett’s album Köln Concert, which won the Danza&Danza Award for “Best Production” in 2016. FDF celebrates “Bliss” on their website, stating that “the euphoria of the dancers is a pleasure to watch, so contagious and powerful that it has continued to bewitch theaters all over the world.”

June 30 to July 8 – Twilight in the Round

One major change to the festival last year was the creation of a circular stage with performances “in the round,” a theatrical term for a performance in which the audience is seated on at least three sides of the stage. This design allowed for spaced out seating while still creating space for an audience of 200 people. “The idea of having the artists be on a circular stage, was like the Shakespeare Theater, in the round,” said Ferrone. “So, we titled it, ‘Twilight in the Round.’” “Twilight in the Round” will continue this year, with more seating available due to less stringent local and national safety restrictions.

The “Twilight in the Round” series features dancers from all over the world who submitted applications to a call for artists, or “bando” as it is called in Italian. Ferrone explained that the call for artists was aimed both last year and this year at “young, emerging companies,” which was originally necessitated by the pandemic “because the big companies last year weren’t ready to travel.” Last year, FDF received 70-80 applications, while this year they received “170 requests from all over the world, not just Europe.” Forty of these companies have been chosen to be featured at one of the five “Twilight in the Round” performances.

Three of the five “Twilight in the Round” performances will take place at 8 pm, just as the sun is setting over Florence. In addition, the series will feature the Sunshine Rèvèrance performance, which will take place on July 3 at 7:30 pm. This evening is dedicated to the returning performers from last year’s festival, who Ferrone says will “give us more light of their wonderful dance from last year” – hence the theme of “sunshine.” The last “Twilight in the Round” performance on July 8 is entitled “Moonlight” as it will take place at 9:30 pm, allowing for the theatrical lighting required by the project.

July 11 and 12, 9:30 pm – The Golden Age (La Edad de Oro)

The Golden Age (La Edad de Oro) is the award-winning production choreographed by Israel Galvàn, considered one of the greatest Flamenco dancers in the world. The show will feature live music by singer David Lagos and guitarist Alfredo Lagos.

The title of the production references the Golden Age of Flamenco, a period that lasted from the 1800s through the 1930s. It has been said that no dancer today, except in rare cases, can possibly match the quality, purity, and creativity of the dancers from this era. With this show, Galvàn rejects this idea and aims to show the “gold” of today’s Flamenco dance.

For more information and tickets, which can be purchased online in advance, visit the Florence Dance Festival website.  (ann webb)