Right foot first

While ŻfinMalta choreographer Paolo Mangiola loved the choice of music, it was not his starting point for his three dances.



ŻfinMalta, the country’s national dance company, is reputed for pioneering fresh thinking in contemporary dance. It was with this ethos that the company approached its contribution to the Malta International Arts Festival this year: a three-part video series featuring dance to three scores performed by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.


To keep the dancers literally on their toes, the scores were pre-chosen and yet choreographer Paolo Mangiola confides, “this was not a bad thing as (he loves) working on contemporary music and ones (he wouldn’t) necessarily gravitate towards”. Indeed, it challenged him “to find new strategies to address each composer and new angles to tackle the process”.


The scores incidentally were chosen by festival artistic director Ruben Zahra, a composer in his own right and strong proponent of contemporary music. These are namely Scott McAllister’s Funk (2015), Makiko Kinoshita’s Twisting Landscapes (2014) and selections from Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 3 Mishima (1985). Once the scores were selected, reveals Paolo, “Ruben gave me all room to explore and experiment with these. I knew I was in good hands as I love his taste and his sensibility when choosing contemporary authors.”


It is interesting that Mangiola never starts his choreography from the music even though he is a lover of the art form. The reason? “When working with such structured scores the dance is limited within the boundaries of it,”. He goes on to add with how “the composers provide you with their own universes and there is little room to escape that”. But that, he says, is where the work begins. They decided with the dancers to tackle each score using for each composition a specific movement property and stayed consistent with that throughout.


For Glass’s Mishima they worked on the ideas of a landslide. “A loop that through repetition reveals the choreographic event from different angles by removing every single loop one element.” Funk, was addressed by working on the notion of tensegrity. They investigated this concept and how bodies in space can move following the rules of it. For Twisting Landscapes they instead concentrated on the idea of fractals and its application in nature.


The fact that these performances will be presented as videos has its advantages: with live performance you can give somehow more freedom to the spectator but with video the gaze is directed.


And then, of course, comes the fun of editing. But you’ll have to watch the videos to find out how that works. Keep and eye out for the premier of Funk, Twisting Landscapes and Mishima on the 20th, 22nd and 23rd of July at 8.30PM.


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