Gallery

The Last Parsifal in Bologna

A matinee is a strange performance to finish a season on.

I thought to take some photos of the theatre, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, where we’ve been the last month; particularly the piazza where the theatre is placed on the north-west-ish side. Saturday, following the wet greyness of Friday was oppositely calm, warm, and a vault of blue. The theatre looked spectacular.

There was another photo I wanted. The first time taking the elevator to the Salle Ballo, thinking it was high up and therefore on the top floor, I ended up in the roof space above the grid, with a small window looking out across the city, through the towers to Santuario della Madonna di San Luca, a view scarcely bettered by any other high point in the city, and one only for those fortunate enough to be lost in the theatre.

We warmed up for the last time, Bonnie, Dasniya, Pericles, and I, pinning on wigs, slathering white body paint, tying up ropes, and then, once again, it was finished.

One final evening in that beautiful city, and today fleeing across the directions of the compass: Bonnie southwards, Pericles east, and Dasniya and I splitting the difference between North, her to Zürich and me to Berlin.

Gallery

Riserva Naturale Contrafforte Pliocenico

Rain, rain, rain, cold. A perfect day for wandering in the bush. If I had a rain jacket. The last free day in Bologna, and I’d decided some days ago I wanted to get out of the city and see the countryside a little, preferably somewhere in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines which fall on the south-east side of the Via Emilia and Bologna. One place that looked especially attractive was the Riserva Naturale Contrafforte Pliocenico, sadly a long journey by bus, but excitingly close in a car. Which we pile into with Bonnie and Giovanni and the family a bit after midday.

It rains. The clouds drop, mist rises. Visibility plunges to a score of metres. More rain and colder. We drive around, decide wandering is largely a muddy, slippery, sodden proposition, and keep in the car along the winding (sideways and up-down) narrow road looking for somewhere to eat. Closed, closed, also closed. Possibly a winter thing. I’d forgotten the name by the time I got home, so pieced together the junctions on the videos out the side window I was making while in the car, and matched them on a map until I came up with Ca’ Shin on the edge of Parco Cavaioni. Also closed. But they opened for us and served a very typical platter of cheese, cured meat, bread, and honey, which we had two of (yes, that good), followed by apple tart and coffee, all local and part of an bio food community, I think.

It’s utterly beautiful up there, hills and escarpments, too steep to be described as rolling, and despite being so close to the city, having a wildness I like very much. I would be very happy to wander these hills on a day like today.

Breathing with the Annas

Tomorrow is the premiere of Parsifal and yesterday was delightfully lazy (I walked as far as a nearby café with Bonnie and ate croissants), so today was intended to be a gentle couple of hours in the studio waking up my body enough to have some momentum for what’s coming. A couple of hours turned into three, which could have gone on even longer but more excitement was at hand.

Last time, when we were in Brussels, I met the breathing/voice teacher of Anna Larsson, the other, Mad Anna, Anna Sims. A couple of times we joined them for some breathing and four-minute pauses, out of which I sensed the dim possibility that I might be able to sing. Today, primed with coffee and those hours of yoga (much sternum-elaboration at the moment), we all climbed the five flights of stairs to the rehearsal studio we’d just been in and … well, to write about it properly would take the rest of the night. I made notes though, and seemed to remember much from the last time, three years ago, and seemed also to be able to put it to use this time.

Many questions, some dizziness (and some tips from Anna, who is almost as tall as me for breathing my way to avoiding it), some singing, humming, buzzing, much talking, joined by Bonnie around the halfway point, some really interesting discoveries (like I can sing very high notes I could never previously find my way to, even though I sensed it was just a matter of sorting out the thinking and it would work), strange, uncoordinated use of muscles and breath that were I walking would be the equivalent of forgetting how to and falling over, and three hours later we plunged back down the stairs and out. It’s days like this I’m unfathomably grateful I decided to be a dancer, for all the amazing things it’s brought me.

Gallery

The Last Week of Parsifal Rehearsals

Last night was the second of two full dress rehearsals. While waiting for the curtain call, we celebrated with third Act pizza in the dressing room. This rehearsal period, a mere two weeks actually in the theatre has passed almost too quickly to become philosophical about the whole working process; I have had the occasional thought though, and perhaps these will achieve bloghood in the coming days. In the meantime, skin and the rest is enjoying two days off from the wigs, white bodypaint, ropes, long days of warming up and preparing for the twenty-five-ish minutes we are actually on-stage. Andrew is here, Anna is here, a couple of others round out the original cast; we have a new Klingsor who is a delight, Valentina and Gianni as stage managers who are also a joy to work with, a great, friendly crew who live on some of the best coffee I have tasted, which at 70¢ a cup is also the cheapest, a new conductor who makes it his own, and altogether it’s not merely a remount and going through the steps. Some photos I was thinking of saving ’til we open, but I’ve seen other photos elsewhere, so, here is something of the last few days.

Castellucci’s Parsifal – Bologna 2014 // Yoga & Shibari, February 2014

(from Dasniya’s mailing list:)

Dear Friends, Bondagisti and Dance People!

the most vibrant and delux start of 2014*** to all of you!
In January we will be part of Romeo Castellucci’s Parsifal again. Opening is on January 14th, 2014 in Bologna.
The next Yoga & Shibari workshop takes place in Berlin on Tuesday February 25th.

All the best e buon anno :)
Dasniya & Frances

  1. Parsifal at Teatro Comunale di Bologna
  2. Yoga & Shibari Workshop in February
  3. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari or Shibari Sessions

1. Parsifal at Teatro Comunale di Bologna

Musical Direction: Roberto Abbado
Director: Romeo Castellucci
Dates: Premier: January 14th, 19 pm. More dates: January 16/18/ 21/23/25, 2014
Where: Teatro Comunale di Bologna
More information: here
Blogged: Frances Blog

2. Yoga & Shibari Berlin, February Tuesday 25th, 2014

Hours: 7-11 pm
At Teatris/Alte Kantine or in our ‘Mini- Dojo’. Both locations are at:
Uferhallen Kulturwerkstatt
Staircase b/c
Uferstraße 8-11
13357 Berlin
U8 Pankstr/U9 Osloerstr

Please call when you are in the court yard, in case you don’t find it, or the door is locked: + 49 174 393 70 49.
Please register beforehand, then we send you the details
General Description: English + Deutsch
Yoga can be done separately from the Shibari part. Hours: 7-8.45 pm. Info here

3. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari or Shibari Sessions

Private coaching in yoga and/or shibari, or gift cards for new years bondage can be organized in Zürich from January 26th, or in Berlin from March 1st, 2014. Please write to either of us: workshops@dasniyasommer.de or frances@francesdath.info

2014 Ropes Bologna
2014 Ropes Bologna

Parsifal Bologna ’til the end of the first week

“When do we do a full dress rehearsal again?” “Friday.” “Friday? … What day is it today, then?” “Saturday.” “Saturday? Really?” “Yes!” “Saturday … wow, it feels like Thursday … I think …”

Saturday turned out to be an unexpected long day in the theatre, with a full dress rehearsal of all three acts, despite us only having been on the stage once. In retrospect, it was a little like a dry run for launching a rocket, so everyone backstage (and onstage) could work out what they didn’t know needed to be done a couple of hours prior. We arrived very early and climbed the stairs to the attic studio for our warming up. My half-year of regular yoga and cycling training along with six weeks of boot camp for Parsifal seems to have spontaneously borne fruit, and I now have one or two muscles. Very handy, because for me it’s easier to hang both with and on muscles.

It’s all very familiar. New dancers and contortionists, but also a couple of the original cast; new singers and stage crew also, but also Anna Larsen and Andrew Richards again in the roles of Kundry and Parsifal. And speaking of whom, currently the sidewalls of Act 2, instead of being solid are semi-transparent scrim, so we could see all of what they get up to while de-roping sidestage. I was watching the DVD of the opera a couple of days ago, and Andrew is awfully scary in his anguish after almost following his desire with Kundry, and then Anna, when we were onstage again at the end of the rehearsal and she’s going crazy, it’s absolutely goose bump thrilling; she’s completely hardcore and metal, and this was only a rehearsal.

Us then, getting the wigs pulled back on (quite like scalp bondage), getting almost naked and covered in white body-paint (like skin bondage), and then on with the ropes. In Brussels, we were directly behind the stage, so we could hear where they were up to in the first Act and know where we needed to be. Now we’re upstairs and can’t hear them at all, so by the time our call came we were at least five minutes late. Not that it ultimately mattered; I think the most important part of the run was everyone working out their collective timing, rather than merely getting through everything onstage. In the end we didn’t hang anyway, as we hadn’t rehearsed with the mechanists and techies, so it went pear-shaped.

Which was the task of yesterday morning, Sunday at 11am onstage. We made a very approximate warmup and were there with the stage managers (who are amazing in that calm, efficient and dependable way) and Klingsor to get all the cues sorted out. It’s turned out the video I had filmed of the final dress rehearsal in Brussels (from which things nonetheless were changed) has been essential in getting this back together. Unlike dance, where restaging a piece in the last at least fifteen years has been a process of watching video, in Opera it seems dependant on the written notes in the score, which are open to far more interpretation than a video, especially when passed from person to person, and often miss a substantial number of important details.

Tuesday we’ll try and put all that together, and then sort out the going up and down once airborne, and for me the climbing on the back wall. Today, Monday is a day off and one of those stupid religious holidays where everything is shut, completely negating the point of having a Monday off. After rehearsal yesterday, we (Dasniya, Jorgos, Bonnie, and I) went for gelati, and after a quick stop at home (a mere 7 minutes dawdle from the theatre), Dasniya and I tried to get somewhat lost in the city. It’s not so easy as there is the former city wall as a circumference for any wanderings, but within … now I’ve finished breakfast, I shall be a tourist.

Parsifal Bologna – 5: Dasniya & ropes in rehearsal studio
Parsifal Bologna – 5: Dasniya & ropes in rehearsal studio
Parsifal Bologna – 6: Onstage chair suspension
Parsifal Bologna – 6: Onstage chair suspension
Parsifal Bologna – 7: … Me. Now. Tied
Parsifal Bologna – 7: … Me. Now. Tied
Parsifal Bologna – 8: part of a Bologna church
Parsifal Bologna – 8: part of a Bologna church
Parsifal Bologna – 9: The moustached Signor Dasniya
Parsifal Bologna – 9: The moustached Signor Dasniya

temperance at cinedans

On a whim in May, because it landed in my maiming lists inbox, I decided to send temperance to Cinedans, promptly forgetting all about it in the whirl between then and a month or so ago. Then I find out it’s been accepted into the Festival and promptly forget to blog about it. So: temperance will be at the 2011 Cinedans Festival in Amsterdam from December 1st-4th. I’ll be in Brussels then, and shall try to find one of those €14.50 tickets from there to (the other) there, for a day/weekend of dance film, visiting Lewis if he’s in town, and canals.

temperance 16mm film
temperance 16mm film

Video

temperance 16mm film

With all the adding of video and making newness on francesdath.info, I started looking at the footage of temperance again. It’s been years since then, reading my blogging on the project is a curious reminder of that time, and the process of forgetting, the certitude of thinking one remembers.

I decided then, to do some rough cutting of the film, beautiful 16mm stock that had been sitting in a fridge for decades, wondering if I could work around the limitations of some of my decisions in the filming. A good deal had already been done. Paul had synced the cameras and also done a first cut – though what I have done, while retaining some of this, is far from it, and also conditional, preliminary.

A thought early on, a week or so ago, was what to do about music. For the rehearsals, we’d been using a track from the Boredoms, which fitted well the mood of the rehearsal as well as of that time. It didn’t fit now, or rather it did but didn’t say or add anything I particularly cared about.

In addition to the film, there was also all of Bart’s sound recordings, including boom from the floor – also all synced. I wanted to leave this in place, as the sound of feet, breathing, scraping, knocking the floor, the hum of the cameras, was all things I felt belonged.

So to music. I thought perhaps something Cello or otherwise, but then was listening to Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations and one track, the 15th, somehow suited. Perhaps it is a bit long, perhaps one that was four minutes would have been better, but strangely the rhythm of Bonnie and Gala matches that of the piano.

This then, is a first cut. I am really not a film editor, though I can stumble and thrash my way through Final Cut enough. I decided to stop here as the only real option is to spend weeks on familiarising myself with all the footage, and carefully assembling it, for which I don’t have the luxury of such time, nor do I think I am capable; and I also know if I don’t at least call something ‘finished’ now, it will remain in the darkness of my hard drive forever.

There are a couple of edits I’m a bit cringy about, where the continuity is very off, and other places where more tightening and timetimetime would make me smile more, but there is also much in here I like. The dancing and attentiveness of Bonnie and Gala, the camerawork of Paul, the sound of Bart, the Temperance Hall, those two weeks when we made this.

You can also watch temperance on francesdath.info/video