I just finished reading Unveiling motion and emotion by Anabella Lenzu, artistic director of the Anabella Lenzu Dance Drama.
A book that reveals the author’s great passion for dance, she tells us her experiences, readings, places and people that have influenced her path. A path that could not have been different from what it has been and still nowadays is, a life made of dance, dedicated to dance. Where dancing is not only technique, but the way to become aware of ourselves, to express ourselves and get in touch with people. A sincere book, in which I find the teacher, the choreographer, the person I knew when I danced for Gabriella Stazio’s Performing Arts Group.
“Performing”, as we used to call it, is the Youth Company of Movimento Danza, which is an artistic and cultural association, as well as a company, dance school, and a National Institution of dance promotion based in Naples.
Gabriella, together with the regular teachers that were part of her team, gave us the privilege to study with some of greatest teachers and choreographers from both the classical and contemporary dance world.
It’s enough to mention Victor Litvinov and Ugo Ranieri for classical ballet (sometimes Fabio Gison and the San Carlo chorus came to teach us pas de deux), Joseph Fontano, Rachel Campbell and Bruce Michelson for contemporary dance, and many other artists internationally known, were invited for workshops, or to create a choreography specifically for the Performing.
Anabella Lenzu, dancer, teacher and choreographer from Argentina, trained at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, and specialised herself in Humphrey/Limón technic in New York, was one of the inspirational personalities invited by Gabriella to give us a workshop and to create a choreography for the Performing Arts Group.
The experience was one of those that leaves its mark.
Anabella is overwhelming, passionate, enthusiastic, smiling and friendly, but also precise, demanding and stubborn.
During the time we spent together, she revolutionised our routine. The ballet class was based on floor exercises and the contemporary class required a bar. She wanted us to do the tandu opposite one another at the center of the room, “as birds chirping,” she told us. She tried in every way to ease tensions and stiffness of the body, to elongate the movements and give fluidity to each one of them.
Her lessons were characterised by a research of a deep and sincere expression. The whole body was supposed to dance, including our eyes.
I remember there was a moment in “December 2001”, the piece she choreographed for us, where the movement started by the fingers of the hand, then passed to the wrist, elbow, shoulder, to then pull up the whole body in a very slow relevé that almost was not to be perceived by those who watched. The focus was on our faces!
The choreography was inspired by the riots that took place the 20th and 21st December 2001 in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. To dance it, we had to feel the same anger, the same desperation that led civilians to clash with the police for the terrible economic crisis that brought Argentina to its knees in the late ’90s.
After learning the steps, Anabella submitted us to an unusual training.
She asked us to lay on the floor listening to the music while in our mind we had to repeat the choreography, then she gave us earplugs, and one by one we had to dance without listening to the music at all, and then after making us scream (thing that I found impossible to do) she made us dance together.
We had to run, spread our arms as if we were throwing stones, jump and fight for something vital to the dignity of people, to fight corruption and strong systems. Each one of us did it for a different reason, but all together to give shape and force to that page of history that she transformed into dance.
It was an engaging work that we performed in several theaters in Naples, Caserta and Rome.
Although Anabella was not there, we knew exactly what he wanted and what she would want us to do. She didn’t only create a choreography, but she also taught us how to feel it and how to find it within us each time.
Years later, reading her book it was a joy, a blast from the past but also the hope for a future collaboration.