Io Sono La Luna
Two weeks of nine-hour days with sore legs, aching knees, a pulled back, and some swollen and blistered feet – that is every dancer’s testimony to time well spent, with the scars to prove it. La Luna Dance Center, located in the Passo Varano quarter of Italy’s Adriatic city of Ancona, has become an extension of my own dance family whom I’ve had the privilege of visiting and working with for the past two summers. La Luna hosts a summer camp with two weeks of a dance intensive that is like none other I’ve seen before. An open community of dance featuring modern, ballet, hip-hop, street jazz, break dance, tap, Bollywood, dancetheatre, aerial, gymnastics, and more, this dance center is a sanctuary for anyone who loves to move their body as a form of expression. Cristiano Marcelli, director of the center, and his wife Simona Ficosecco, artistic director of La Luna, are a power couple with creative juices flowing between the both of them (and within their two, rambunctious sons who also are constant figures in the studio’s landscape). The center’s nickname, ‘Il Panetone’, stems from the building’s uncanny resemblance to the Italian Christmas fruitcake; once an old fish market, this oddly-shaped industrial complex comes to life with a circular flow of well-lacquered studios, mirrors, ballet bars, and a graffiti-christened courtyard in the back. An unlikely place for a dance center, La Luna is a contradiction in itself: an ugly shell of steel and metal with warm innards of beauty and grace.
Each summer, during the two-weeks of classes and rehearsals, the students of La Luna prepare for the Gran Galá, part of the Ancona Dance Festival, which showcases the fruits of their labor along with the collaborations of instructors and choreographers. Last year, I was lucky enough to be asked to stay a few extra days and continue my work with the kids on a Bollywood piece I had been constructing. With limited time on my end, I was happy to hear the final performance was a fantastic and energetic routine that the audience loved! I was ecstatic, especially since I had to leave Ancona three days before the Gran Galá, not being able to see first-hand the incredibly talented work of aerialist Elizabeth Williams with dance partner Ryan Daniel Beck, which we decided to add to the Bollywood madness during our rehearsals.
This year, I was more ambitious, and when I arrived at the studio six days before the Gran Galá with only five rehearsals ahead of me, I told the 30 eager students sitting in front of me: ‘Thank you for having me – we start NOW!’ With no time to waste, we finished a five-minute long piece which came out better than I had hoped, and of course, a collaboration with fellow teachers was intended. I had the honor of working with Fernando Suels Mendoza, a permanent member for over 15 years of the legendary Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, whose delicate choreography and amorous duet with dancer Giorgia Maddamma contrasted the glitzy Bollywood group number yet perfectly balanced the feel of the whole piece. I cannot thank them enough for giving me the privilege to see them both in action, in dancing and in creating some of the most glorious 30-seconds I could never myself imagine. Danke schoen!
While I worked my students to exhaustion with 95-degree weather, the other instructors were just as relentless, yet the students were never wavering. That was the most rewarding of the entire experience – having these students truly engaged and involved in the dance and in the creative process.
This past Saturday, July 21st, the Gran Galá was scheduled to be held at La Mole, an outdoor theater situated within a massive, Gothic-style fort built on the city’s edge. With a week of intense heat, of course the weather called for rain on Saturday. Plan B was the Teatro Sperimentale, a smaller, enclosed theater that perfectly housed the dancers (minus the sweltering heat the poor audience had to endure). Though in the end, every seat in the house was filled with a smiling face – an opening dancetheatre piece by Simona Ficosecco, Io Tu Noi (I You We) was followed by dances from renowned mime, dancer, and original hip-hop legend Junior Almeida, New York-based dancer Ryan Daniel Beck, and of course La Luna’s B-Boys, our explosive Bollywood scene, and Mendoza’s finale. In the end, it was the moment where I truly felt the motto of the school: Io Sono La Luna, I am the Moon!
1. La Luna Dance Center: Classes are offered throughout the year at La Luna Dance Center, along with a summer two-week dance intensive every July. Plan for next year’s camp as a perfect, dance summer getaway!
2. Ancona Dance Festival: This summer’s Ancona Dance Festival continues through August with a collaborative piece by Mendoza & Ficosecco on Saturday, August 4th, 2012. For more information, go to AnconaDanceFestival.com.
3. Simona Ficosecco: Ficosecco recently came to New York to premiere her piece L’Amore Torna (Love Returns) with her LUNA Company and is planning to return in October for another collaborative premiere. Her teatro danza style (Tanztheater) is inspired by Pina Bausch.
4. Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: The company’s tour in the US makes a stop in Brooklyn’s Academy of Music (BAM) for two weeks from October 18th-27th, 2012. Buy your tickets now, and see Mendoza live!
5. PINA: The recent film PINA by Wim Wenders featuring works by Pina Bausch is a visual masterpiece (in 3-D and HD). Be sure to see the film while it is still in theaters!