silent as…

year 2012 duration 60'
an idea by Roberto Zappalà and Nello Calabrò
 
retrospectively inspired by Franz Kafka’s “the Silence of the Sirence”
choreography and direction Roberto Zappalà
dancers Gaetano Badalamenti, Jan Brezina, Francesco Colaleo, Maud de la Purification,
Liisa Pietikainen, Roberto Provenzano, Fernando Roldan Ferrer, Ilenia Romano
music Gavin Bryars (the sinking of the titanic) / Doctor Rockit (indoor fireworks) /
J.S.Bach (aria sulla quarta corda) / le voci delle madri di Gaza / the raven read di James Earl Jones
set , lights and cotumes  Roberto Zappalà
set and costumes’ assistant  Debora Privitera
rehearsals director Paola Valenti
technical coordination Sammy Torrisi
sound editing Salvo Noto
production and manager Maria Inguscio
photos Serena Nicoletti
special thanks to the dancers for their collaboration
a production by  compagnia zappalà danza and Scenario Pubblico international choreographic centre Sicily
in collaboration with Teatro Stabile di Catania, steptext dance project (D) and Schwankhalle Bremen (D)
with the support of Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali and Regione Siciliana Ass.to al Turismo, Sport e Spettacolo
première 9 marzo 2012 TE.ST Teatro Stabile di Catania
Silent as…” marks a new poetic departure for Roberto Zappalà.
 While in line with its current method of subdividing in “steps” its most complex dramaturgical projects (i.e. the final project will embrace the history and global conflicts starting from the Shoah), it represents a true departure from a dramaturgical/choreographic point of view. The visionary narrative structure, which has dominated the “re-mapping sicily” project, will give way to the creative instinct and a more abstract movement composition. Glimpses of this new departure were already visible in “sud-virus”, his latest piece for the Gӧteborg Ballet.
While “Silent as…” marks a clear departure from the last production “Odisseo”, it is not as separate as it may appear. In the company’s creative work it often happens that themes unexpectedly surface from the depths like streams from the karst. In this case, thanks to Kafka, the figure of Ulysses/Odysseus works as a trait d’union between the last two creations by Zappalà. In Kafka’s, Ulysses responds with the fiction of his silence to the fiction of the sirens that in front of him remain silent instead of singing. An enigmatic and inscrutable silence; stronger than any song. If the violent killing of the suitors corresponds to the fury and noise of “Odisseo”, the silence following the murder corresponds to the seeming peace of “Silent as…”; seeming as silence screams. Like in Babi Yar: “Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand, I feel my hair changing shade to grey. And I myself, like one long soundless scream…”( Evgeny Yevtushenko, Babi Yar*)
*A Ukrainian city and site of a massacre carried about by the Nazis that killed 33,500 Jews.
Why “Silent as…”? A truncated, neutral and equally poetic and wide title?
Silence for Zappalà evokes piece, death, poetry, tragedy, musicality, freedom, fierceness, immobility, the colour (white) and snow. Similarly to silence – ambiguous, elusive and only definable as the absence of sound –, snow – as an intermediate state between water and ice – can also be ambiguous and have both positive and negative characteristics.
Snow may evoke purity but also the deafening silence of indifference.
The gentle and pure “snow” of our everyday, peaceful life may turn into the tragic and roaring avalanches of history. Snow and silence together have the power to modify space and time, or rather, the perception that one may have of space and time. The world under a blanket of snow or while it snows is a world where time seems to slow down, visibility is reduced and movements are altered, different from everyday ones; it is a world where sounds are reduced and rarefied; where silence reigns supreme.
The snow is not a direct reference to the performance; rather, a starting point for an ongoing creative process. The snow has been conceptually ‘dirtied’ to make silence eloquent. The silence of God and the silence of human beings; silence within us and towards the unspeakable; silence as torture or as an extreme form of rebellion; as absence or excess of communication; silence as something forever relative. Dance highlights and amplifies its ambiguity and subtle shades. If silence is or can be music; dance can literally take on music on stage.
Nello Calabrò
 
the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence (Kafka “the silence of the Sirens”)