Dance & Astronomy
My name is Enrico.
I am originally from Italy, near Rome, in a small city.
Since 2014, I have been living Germany. My home town in Italy is a small place.
When I was very young, I became interested in dance when my sister was taking dance classes. It took me some time to make the decision to study dance. By that time, I was about 14. Since then, I never stopped dancing. It has been 15 years that I relate daily with this practice.
My journey to pursuit a dance career
I would love briefly tell you what I did in my dance career.
My home town is a small town which is in a way similar to Amman where there are just a dance schools available, no further study in dance in university.
At that time, there was only one big institution in dance in Rome which is near my home town.
The only big institute is focused on Ballet and classical training. I immediately understood that this institute was not for me.
I did not want to only explore dance as a ballet dancer.
So I decided not to go there and structure my own studying program.
I started in Rome with my professional education, then I started to follow other teachers in Italy through seminars and workshops.
That followed by a 3-month-program in New York. In New York, I have expended my horizon. I noticed that the dance scene was very much influenced by the musical scene, such as the Broad Way.
I was very motivated with my experiences in New York and believed that I was going the right direction. Later I went back to Europe and continued my training. Slowly I felt that I was ready to get my first job.
Therefore, I joined an audition. After some try-outs, a few rejections, traveling from one country to another, I received a contract in Germany in 2014.
Since then, I have been working as a full-time dancer. Around four years ago, I started my career as a choreographer. I consider myself rather fresh in the choreographic field. I am still learning from senior choreographers, getting inspired from their working methods.
It took me some time to develop my own working method. At the moment, I would say my working method is defined. Still, there are a lot to discover in the field.
My experience in Jordan
Here in Berlin, I have founded a project called “InCapsula” with an electronic musician, Giacomo Mattogno.
As InCapsula we conducted an artistic residency in Jordan in 2019, as part of International Dance Encounter Amman (IDEA) festival.
Dance & Sound
Since we talked about how this residency is a multidisciplinary encounter between dance and music. I would like to elaborate a little about InCapsula.
InCapsula is founded by me, a dancer-choreographer, and Giacomo, a musician-composer.
So InCapsula is an encounter of dance and sound. Our aim is to find original ways to bring these two languages together.
For a lot of people, bring dance and music elements together would mean that a dancer plays music and dance with the rhythm. But that is not what we do. We would look into varies layers of a piece of music in depth. And our exploration of reflected in the artistic residency, and the result of a group piece, we did in Jordan. Prior to the Jordanian residency, we had conducted similar workshops in Berlin where people look into different layers of music.
Each person in the workshops were representing a different instrument of a music piece. We imagine this choreographic process as re-visiting the relationship between dance and sound.
Title: Improvisation on live sounds
Furthermore, as InCapsula, we have a focus on community involvement. We intentionally bring people to our creation. We adopt open participatory formats and value audience building.
We enjoy include people who have never been to theatre to join us, to create an artistic piece, a dance performance to us. We have invited non-dancers to our studio, to get a insight of dance-making, to talk to us and find out more about how to create a dance, what does it mean to create a dance, and how can a member of the public participate in the creation.
We have asked an audience to be an active part of a dance creation. We also have been encouraging audience members to give feedback in the process of our dance making, to see what people think of the creation, whether the process is understood by members of the public, or whether the topic of the dance creation is relevant to the society.
We think it is important to include people who are normally outside of a dance studio to come inside of the making process. It is beneficial to break an artistic bubble where artists create only to satisfy their own interests.
Knowing that at certain stage, a performance would be presented to the public, it might be important to think of the perspective of the public in the creation process. I value other perspectives and enjoy inviting audiences, and listen to their feedbacks.
Dance & Physics
Recently, I had a connection with the scientific field. It is funny that it all happened by chance and at the beginning I was so interested in.
It did not appear that I could find a link between science and dance. Giacomo Mattogno, the co-founder of InCapsula, has experience in sound engineering.
It is through him that I broadened a lot of my work. I met Giacomo in a studio in Berlin.
At that time, he did not know much about dance and I did not know much about sound. By working together, we discovered each other’s field. There was a time that he would just play certain sound and I would move, while no parameter set.
fter a while, we found a strong link between us in the human level and in the artistic level. I felt there is a strong emotion that his sound could evoke in me. That was the beginning of our exploration of different stimulus. Giacomo introduced the physical side of sound to me.
He explained to me how sound travel through space. how would air molecules interact with each other as all sounds are made by vibrations of molecules through which the sound travels. and sound.
Title: Interactive Lab with sound & movement
I will briefly elaborate on how sound works. For example, we hear sound from a stereo. We know that the stereo vibrates. air molecules move by the vibrations.
You can imagine the molecules rotating, colliding with each other. We are talking about thousands of tiny dots moving, smashing into each other. Let’s imagine a molecule crash into another molecule and this creates a domino effect.
The collision expends in a circular way, eventually the vibrating molecules reach our ears. Once the vibrations reach our ears. There is going to be whole system, allowing us perceive sound. I will elaborate how human ears work.
“All sounds are made by vibrations of molecules through which the sound travels.
These vibrations make air molecules move.
When the vibrating air molecules reach our ears, the eardrum vibrates, too.”
That was Wikipedia page of sound. It is fascinating.
I am very intrigued by the sound is because we cannot see vibrations or air molecules, but for my voice to reach your ears, a lot movements happening in the air. This fascination gave birth to a project called “Shape of moving waves”.
This is also the concept behind the artistic residency we did in Amman. Audiences in Amman had a glimpse of the in initial solo we created in 2018 and also experienced a group piece of the residency result built upon my initial exploration.
Title: Shape of moving waves
I would like to elaborate a little on the challenges. It is not easy to find the link between sound and movement.
The sound of Giacomo was behaving one way and my movements were behaving in another way. It took us some to set the parameters which would connect his sound and my movements together.
The first thing we did was to define the space on the floor. We created a grid on the floor.
Inside the grid we created a set of parameters that are connected the sound. Giacomo and I experimented to have my movements leading the sound to change. And we also experimented having his sound to lead my movements to change.
It was like a mapping of the space we move. But we decided not to map my body. Because I did not want to become 100% controlled by sound.
For example, if I hear a high-pitched sound, I would have to raise my arm to react to that. Or if I hear a low-pitched sound, I would have to move my feet.
I believed that would limit my movements. Therefore, we decided to not set any parameters on the body and we would have the freedom to dance. With these rules, things become easier.
At the same time, we realized that by establishing these rules, certain clarity was brought into our explorations while a lot of limitations were brought in at the same time. We concerned started to create in a framework that stopped us to see other possibilities.
That is where I’d live to bring more people to join the exploration and ask them for them what they see, how they feel about my ideas.
So we opened up our process to wider communities and ask people whether they see any connection between dance and sound.
I asked people whether they see any potential in this project, whether they think we could try to work on some other directions. It is incredible that born out of my frustration, a format that nurtures mutual exchange, human connection, and welcoming new voices in, was created. Later we used this open participatory format in many other projects.
Since then, it became fundamental to me that in my creative process, I would find a moment that is right moment to open the door, and let people in.
Usually at the beginning of my creation, I would go through a period of time that I slowly trust what I am doing, eventually become very convinced by what I was doing. When I build enough confidence, I would invite people in.
This would be the time I could describe my work in words to others, and ask how they feel. When it comes in-progress audiences/ feedback, I would not say yes to every suggestion.
There would be movements that I really like to keep, no matter what other people say. It is important process for me to find my strong points that are valid to me, even they might be challenged by others, I would still find these points very meaningful to me. I think it is crucial to filter audience feedback., to find the balance between taking suggestions, criticism of audiences, and stick to what you approach.
Sometimes I’d find certain feedback serves me, while others are not helpful. I understand that audiences may have different interpretation of my work, and there is a possibility that their feedback may not be useful at the time. I had a few experiences that some of the audiences’ feedback brought me to deep thinking of days.
I also had experiences that I was not sure what I was doing any more, after listening to my audiences, and felt I was pushed out of my comfort zone and lost.
Sometimes, it could be hard to take criticism, and I started to doubt everything I do. It is beneficial to understand where your audiences come from.
An audience member who is a journalist would interpret my work differently from an audience member of dance critics background. It is possible that when an audience sees something unfamiliar, something they could not immediately make sense, negative feedback is given.
It might be a good idea to have a diverse audience.
Sometimes it is good to know that certain audiences may prefer more performative arts, some would want arts to connect to social issues such as gender issues, or the accessibility of arts to people with disabilities. I agree that their preferences are meaningful.
But I would decide what is my own interest, what is meaningful to my own work at that stage.
It is possible that certain feedback could be put aside till much later when you start to find that it may be helpful when you have progressed your work further more.els. and sound.
I would love to show you some video I have mentioned before. This is an outdoor version of the project, “Shape of moving waves”, which is a dialogue between dance and music that I have created a few years ago.
The outdoor version was performed in a festival where I was performing on concrete floor. It was quite challenging. It is interesting that we are sometimes asked to adapt a performance to different space and people, and new adaptations or new versions were created out of, sometimes, challenges and limitations.
Title: Shape of moving waves
“Shape of moving waves” is the first project InCapsula created. Here is a version of a participative format. This group version was created through a 25-hour creation period time of six weeks.
We were meeting twice a week for two hours to create together. In such limited timeframe, we learnt that in many occasions that we will have trust our instinct, to trust ourselves, and make quick decisions.
In a longer creation, I would encourage participants to experiment, to research, to develop in depth, to find out deeper meanings of movements that resonate to their mind and body.
Title: Shape of moving waves
Dance & Astronomy
I would love to introduce another project of mine. An astrophysicist, Fabio Iocco, participated in one of my workshops of “Shape of moving waves”.
After the workshop, he wanted to talk to me. He told me that what we experimented in “Shape of moving waves” was very similar to his astrophysics studies.
He further explained that certain ideas used in the workshops, such as circular movements, the endless movements, the collisions, the expansion in a space, and the vortex, were very interesting to him.
He said that he felt what we did the dance studio was very much connected to what is happening in the universe. He said he could see our experiments as an attempt visual representation of human bodies of the movements of celestial bodies.
I was fascinated by what Fabio said, and I started my learning journey of galaxy. When I was told that galaxy s a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter, I immediately connect that to human bodies, and how we are affected by gravity.
The force of gravity seems to be connecting us, and the starts together.
I started to wonder perhaps there could be a connection between how human interact in the society, and how starts interact in the sky. Perhaps life is a series of continues movements that we meet others, then we part.
While up in the sky, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter interact, and interactions between galaxies are relatively frequent.
I was very surprised when Fabio described these interactions as “dance”. He said that stars, gas, and dark matter are “dancing” in the universe.
Therefore, I designed a series of group exercises to explore the formation of the galaxy, in an attempt to find a representation of the connection between human experiences and the universe dynamics.
People of varies background attended a workshop conducted by me, that encompassing all the exercises. A significant amount of these people are not of dance background.
Through our visual and movement exploration, a sense of group consciousness was formed from us.
You could say it is a journey of discovering who we are. It is also interesting that the series of group exercises are considered more of an artistic research of human connection, meanwhile to some extent, echoes to many discoveries of scientific research.
I suggest that artists could actually explore scientific matters confidently, aiming to find their own interpretations of the matter.
In the group exercises, we explored the ideas of spinning, of vortex motion, of levitations. We imagine that there is no gravity and we float in the air.
I enjoyed thinking of the manipulation of the masses.
I was inspired by the idea that galaxies attracted to each other, and pushing each other away. I am very interested in this continuous meeting and parting. The opposition of being pulling together, and pushing away resembles our earthly experiences as humans.
I would love to show you a video of a simulation of the formation of the Milky Way galaxy. Noticeably, this video is silent. As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to the universe, as nothing exists in isolation.
Some says that start systems make vortex shapes, pulling the planets behind them as they do. You could see the in the video that a lot of new elements are floating around the center point.
At some point, you would see two galaxies about to collide. After collision, a bigger new galaxy was formed. This resonate with me that two people encounter, a strong connection was formed and the two start a family. And for this family, new people come in, and come out, as life goes on.
Title: The Formation and Evolution of Massive Black Holes
I would love to show you our workshop result and hear your feedback. After my introduction, you have some understandings of where did this performance come from.
Tell me whether you see what I said in the performance or not. We call this project “Youniverse”. And it is a video based project that has never been performed in front live audiences.
“In an attempt to translate the formation of a galaxy by drawing on forms of language and representations other than those of physics, the dancing bodies become symbolic expressions of universal physical laws. In our earthly perspective, what happens above us is reflected in similar dynamics in everyday life.”
— Enrico Paglialunga
This video is shot with drone camera as if the universe is looking down at us, sometimes zooming in, as a statement saying that we are far away from the universe but at the same time could still be connected to the universe if we want. To me, the drone camera is the eye of the universe looking at us.
This performance was realized in a very short period of time. As a group, we spent 2 to 3 hours together exploration and 2 to 3 hours’ video shooting.
So everything has been done in a framework of a day.
Now when I look back at the video, there are something I’d like to change, but I understand that working in a limited timeframe means compromising many possibilities.
Also, as a low budget production and all the performers were volunteering their time. Therefore, I did not want to commit the performers for more than a day.
The choice of costumes is that the white costumes represent gas and whoever wear white stay together, while black costumes represent dark matter and whoever wear black tend to collide with another person in black.
So you could see that people in white stay in a group, and they allow people in black to collide in a form of a container.
In our exploration, we discussed a lot about human relationship, about responsibility, about trust, about respect, about selfishness and selflessness, about the basic rules men created to allow us to co-exist.
We had experiences that one person broke the wholeness of the group, and the vortex stopped.
At the end, we discussed what does it mean to be together at an emotional level, sharing the time and space.
COVID-19 & Me
With the pandemic crisis, I am very much challenged in organizing participatory workshops.
I am glad that more people would prefer to use the term of physical distancing to social distancing.
We are physically far from each other but we are still connected socially, and emotionally.
I have not been able to bring a lot of people together.
An alternative would be to bring a very small group of dancers together to create. But it does not fulfill my objectives to bring people outside of the studio to come inside and contribute to dance making.
Therefore, I have been rethinking my creating methods and trying to find a way to involve more members of the public in the creative process.
I have been looking for a clear communication method to reach my audiences, and allows the audiences to actively participate if they cannot physically be in my performances or workshops.
One idea I had in mind is to go to people’s home and meet them face to face. I would love to perform and interact with people.
I have a few questions in mind that I would love to ask my audiences. One is them is what is the consideration of performing arts now from an audience’ point of view. Another question would be whether people look at performing arts differently after the pandemic crisis.
I wonder whether people feel differently after trying some unusual artistic activities, or dealing with an unusual creativity, during the lock-down. I have example of my family members in Italy. All of a sudden, many of them started to make their own bread, started drawing or painting, a lot people said that they had some free time to rediscover themselves. In this process, they found that they have hidden talents.
I would love to know more about it and to redesign my working method, looking for new way connect with people in this world we are living right now.
This session starts at 11:00 am (Saturday), 12th, September, 2020.
Who is the speaker?