IF, IF, IF, THEN + MODULES @MUDAM – The museum of contemporary art in Luxembourg

The work is divided into two macro performative moments: four Modules of about 15 minutes each are indeed the prelude to the main performance If, If, If, Then (Expanded Version). The exercise in its complexity is an attempt to formalize two-dimensional poses soon to be erased and re-enacted. The three performers who bring Jenna’s choreography to life improvise over codified tracks. They are not bodies of desire, but sketches of kinetic thought, traces o fixed choreographic imagery that tend towards the abstraction of gesture rather than the stabilization of form. Jenna’s practice is as complex as it is delicate; his performances mobilize such a quantity of repertoires and visual culture references that even the most expert spectator risks getting lost in the labyrinth of unstable poses that they perform. And yet Jenna reaches everyone, he is so transversal that even a performance illiterate (perhaps, much more than others!) would ind in his choreographies reason for amusement or even reflection. There are many levels of interpretation, just as there are many gestural hints in play.

In the Modules, music does not exist. But nevertheless silence materializes the space, enveloping it. The bodies move in the silent embarrassment of the spectators who ind themselves facing a practice that challenges them frontally, albeit gently. The performers probe the audience’s resistance to visual confrontation. They stare at the viewer, and walk around, formalizing into blocks, then disperse. In this practice of spatialization of time, the audience doesn’t know which way to look; there is no stage, no center. Some walk away impatient, others simply wait. Yet all manifest a lively impatience: accustomed to perceiving, they suddenly feel perceived in a space that has no orientation.

On the parquet of the Mudam’s ground floor the Modules take shape: three very different performing bodies, plural in the movement that animates them, look for each other and gather in a dense jumble that gets lost in the darkness of the room. It is not the light of the spotlight that these bodies yearn for; they perform their act of love in a decentralized, dimly lit position, at the edges of the scene. The lights get lower and lower, and finally a high-pitched sonic siren goes up. The soundscape now ills the space that the bodies leave behind.

After the Modules comes the main performance If, If, If, Then (Expanded Version). In it, the soundtrack is a protagonist from the beginning: sound patterns of repetitions by composer Caterina Barbieri engrave the bodies and their movements. This time the three performers draw a closed space, even if mobile, in the middle of the room. It is inside a circle that they perform their workouts. The bodies sigh, never still; even when they are at rest, they continuously pulsate moving their pelvis. Blue and then red lights accompany them; each of the three bodies draws their own space of action and turns contemptuously towards the audience. The rhythm is sussultatory, lowering and raising; the sound registers the different intensities of the bodies that inhabit it and goes along with them, moving with them. At some point of If, If, If, Then, Jenna paints a more meditative phase that follows but doesn’t conclude the initial excitement. After that, the viewer can experience the return of modularity; indeed, new slow formalizations take hold, a guide to destructive construction. The movements now become agile and fast, the performers’ amused expressions remain fixed not only in their faces but come to life also in the forms they create. You can notice an intense performative participation that manages, however, not to soil the neatness of the movement, which remains firm. The gestural emotionality in Jenna’s performance is a thing of rare beauty dancing on the indefinite without ever settling into precise forms. The circle in some sections becomes a triangle, the shape is mobile but always well codified. The performers are complacent, there is no pride in their gaze but rather a challenge to dissent. They start looking at the spectator again, circling. The lights become electric. The circle tightens, the modules become more explicit but never deinitive. Mechanical but deeply relational gestures build a structural embrace meant to die. You turn out that, in fact, a realized module is at the same time a denied module, where the form of the single units is lost in the becoming of a never-ending gesturing.

When the performing bodies are at rest, the room clears and Jenna allows space (and time) for the viewer to enter his environment. All day long. Surrounded by an immersive soundscape, projected invitations like “low into stillness” or “don’t judge at this point” or longer “now grow into your plumb-line upward toward the ceiling or toward a favorite star” can be read on the white gallery walls. Some in the audience wonder if those lines are really addressed to themselves, or if it’s just a self-referential circle between the artist and himself. When I experienced this, more than half did not move from the supine or sitting position they were in after entering the room. A few brave ones took the time Jenna gave them and began to interact with the space around them. The others, who watched passively, looked at them as if wondering, “are they just childish to move around an empty room just because they ind it written on a wall, or should I low into the experience as well? Maybe it’s more foolish to stand still and stare at a screen. But maybe I can ‘low into stillness’ even without getting up!”. What is certain is that even this kind of hesitation belongs to the time that Jenna gives to all of us.

Hands on Time | The Illusion of the End – Cactus Magazine 2021
Simone Rossi

SOME CHOREOGRAPHIES

Exploring the interface between live performance and screen dance must be an aesthetic turn-on for Jacopo Jenna. Dancer Ramona Caia’s role in this ambitious collaborative project is, he says, ‘a sensitive kinetic reflection’ of the staggering array of archival dance footage Jenna himself assembled.

Elegant in satiny white top and loose black trousers, Caia both replicates and responds to the swift stream of moving images projected onto the huge screen looming behind her. Footage ranges from contemporary or Hollywood dance icons to self-made video, global cultural ritual and glimpses of sport. Caia is impeccable, if overshadowed. There is respite whenever palate-cleansing saturated colour briefly replaces human endeavour, but Jenna’s clever, captivating dance collage ends in death.

Except it doesn’t end: an (overextended) coda finds Caia mostly prone as we watch, above her, Roberto Fassone’s series of wittily entitled nature clips. Jenna’s work might wear out its welcome, but it has a pretty profound reach.

Donald Hutera

Some Choreographies is a series of reoccurring encounters between high art and pop culture, past and present, human and post-human existence. For Jacopo Jenna, the choreography unfolds as a series of movement-based films which dancer Ramona Caia mimics or interprets. The material ranges from archive recordings of classical ballet to universally recognizable images from television and the internet.

This is a work of impressive magnitude, rifting into and reflecting on our collective visual and kinetic memory. Traces of past series of movement are captured in a spacious and artificial media reality, and continually relived and revised on stage by the single live body of the performer.

In the second part of the piece the very same now more static body finds itself looking for points of reference to non-human choreographies of various scales – mountains, animals, blood cells. This captivating performance allowed me to wander throughout times, spaces and physicalities all made once again inhabitable, even if only for 40 minutes.

Plamen Harmandjiev

The humorous understatement of Jenna’s title is apparent within a minute. A large screen above an empty stage serves as the cinematic backdrop for a continuous, decades-spanning sequence of gestures and danced movement from TV documentaries, films, shows, the daily news, the internet. Yvonne Rainer is back to back with Masai warriors, soldiers practising martial arts, and ants carrying away a dead spider scored to a pop song. Dancer Ramona Caia picks up the imagery with soft yet precise gestures and earnest commitment, stringing them into a choreography that travels across the stage all the while shifting focus from one body part to the next – until eventually she lies flat on her back.

The cut-up technique, the wilful plundering of movement fixed on celluloid, discloses a deep passion for dance which, however, ends up exhausting the eye. Our battle with the hypnotic effect of a huge screen packed with quickly changing colours is fought all the way through, and never fully won. We’re caught up in a game of distraction, challenged like a toddler on a sugar rush.

Lea Pischke

Dancer Ramona Caia is already absorbed in movement as we enter, palms open and moving her upper torso slowly like a camera-ready fashion model. It is almost as mesmerising as the piece’s format which is structured as a snapshot-like series of videos – a love letter to all forms of dance. The work is stitched together by a myriad of mutual patterns and themes: modern dance pioneers, dance rituals, pop-cultural phenomena such as wrestling or tutorials and much more. The plethora of archival footage, no matter how grainy, awakes an almost nostalgic recognition of how deeply movement connects us. Sadly, the massive screen images swallow Caia whole. Her journey of dance karaoke soon develops into an expansion of the notion of choreography itself. A worm in soil dances as much as Martha Graham. Roberto Fassone’s high-resolution videos in the piece’s second half have the aesthetic of computer and smart-tv screensavers, displaying nature in all its glorious splendour and set to the coolest of tunes.

Some Choreographies is a brilliant comment on the attention economy of our times. I was as transfixed as when I endlessly tap through social media stories – only this is a story of movement filtered through the unique sensibility of three artists.

Berit Einemo Frøysland
Springback Academy 2022
 

ALCUNE COREOGRAFIE

I colori della natura e della musica, e uno sguardo che abbraccia la bellezza della danza nella storia. Sono questi i tratti distintivi di “Alcune coreografie” di Jacopo Jenna, epilogo della XXIII edizione del Danae Festival.
Jenna come Tornatore in “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso”. “Alcune coreografie”, con Ramona Caia nelle vesti di danzatrice, è un viaggio nell’enigmatico segreto della danza e della performance. È l’arte che riflette su sé stessa e sul proprio destino. Attraverso una sequela interminabile d’immagini attinte dagli archivi o da internet, frammenti montati e rielaborati, nasce, proiettata sullo sfondo dell’Out Off di Milano, una coreografia visiva affascinante che parte dall’Ottocento e arriva ai nostri giorni.

“Alcune coreografie” è una sequenza di filmati senza fiato. Jenna fruga nella storia. Attraversa il cinema e internet. Sorvola villaggi africani e indiani, teatri europei e radure nordamericane. E poi, boschi, mari, montagne e deserti, persino discoteche, palestre, palchi di concerti. Ne attinge immagini in movimento che diventano coreografie con cui Ramona Caia dialoga dal vivo.
Tutto ciò che è movimento e creatività entra nel copione, persino il ballo di un bambino che si filma con il telefonino, o la Haka, rituale maori che apre le partite della nazionale neozelandese di rugby. Per arrivare a “Danzando sotto la pioggia” e alla “Febbre del sabato sera”. E poi la ginnastica artistica e ritmica, il ring del pugilato, le movenze di alcune star della musica in un concerto rock.
I video montati in sequenza serrata formano una catena artistica bidimensionale. Ramona Caia riproduce sul palco quanto accade in video alle sue spalle. Essa dà consistenza fisica alle immagini. Vi conferisce spessore tridimensionale. Ne percepiamo il respiro quando riproduce i movimenti ora in modo pedissequo e didascalico, ora aggiungendo variazioni e spigolosità. Alcuni gesti sono accennati, altri approfonditi e rimarcati. Lo sguardo è rivolto al pubblico. Tempi e stacchi sono interiorizzati.

In “Alcune coreografie” la danza riverbera il proprio destino. Diventa luogo dove prendono forma i miti dell’immaginario collettivo e di un emozionante rito sociale. Jenna e Caia riportano la danza al presente. Da Pina Bausch a John Travolta, da James Brown e Merce Cunningham. E poi Mary Wigman o personaggi del cinema come Billy Elliot e Jocker.
In simbiosi con una materia cinetica sensibile, la danzatrice modifica e connette le immagini. Traduce l’effimero in carne, consapevole che in fondo non si è mai inventori di nulla. Il pubblico, smantellando il presupposto della riproduzione perfetta, assiste allo scollamento della sincronicità per ritrovare nella danza umanità e caducità.

“Alcune coreografie” è un’esperienza di teatro visuale che decongestiona la civiltà delle immagini e la decontestualizza. Nella frizione tra quanto avviene in scena e quanto vediamo sullo schermo, sussumiamo la compenetrazione tra arte e vita, dove l’errore e l’imperfezione sono ammessi e diventano valore aggiunto ed evoluzione.

L’appendice cinematografica finale è un affastellamento di immagini straordinarie, di una natura anch’essa danzante, realizzate dall’artista visivo e performer Roberto Fassone, qui nei panni di video maker. La danza di Ramona Caia defluisce, si placa fino ad annullarsi. La presenza umana evapora. Campeggiano immagini di rara bellezza, di una natura assoluta e incontaminata, in cui danzano le montagne e i fiori, il mare, gli alberi e gli animali: orsi, scimmie, uccelli, balene, persino il famigerato drago di Komodo. Anche nell’inconsapevolezza istintiva della natura coniugata alla musica, magari con l’elaborazione del computer, possono nascere coreografie sorprendenti. E il corpo inerte della performer sulla scena assomiglia allo spaesamento di un naufrago.
“Alcune coreografie”, esito finale del festival diretto dal Teatro delle Moire, è puro “godimento” (Alessandro Pontremoli) estetico. È immersione totale, cinematografica, dentro una danza che è storia, tradizione, antropologia, psicanalisi, natura, compenetrazione delle arti.


Alcune Coreografie, i colori della danza nella storia – Krapp’s Last Post 2021
Vincenzo Sardelli

ALCUNE COREOGRAFIE

Alcune coreografie, lavoro in cui spicca un grande disegno drammaturgico volto a unire il linguaggio coreografico al video e alla partitura musicale. Alcune coreografie ricorda da vicino l’opera di Christian Marclay The Clock (2010) vincitore del Leone d’oro alla Biennale di Venezia. Se nel lavoro dell’artista svizzero, della durata di ventiquattro ore, si assisteva a un montaggio accuratissimo di immagini cinematografiche in cui protagonista indiscusso era il tempo nel suo scorrere ritmato da frammenti in cui ogni minuto della giornata era evidenziato da un orologio indicante ore e minuti in successione – montaggio intessuto su una partitura costituita di campionamenti e remix – nella coreografia di Jacopo Jenna vediamo un incastonarsi di schegge e pillole di danze che perfettamente si incastrano e dialogano con ciò che la danzatrice esegue sulla scena.

La coreografia segue il montaggio video e traspone in un flusso innovativo ciò che le immagini, tratte da ogni genere di manifestazione danzata, colta o popolare, etnica o folclorica, spontanea o studiata, propongono alla visione dello spettatore continuamente portato a confrontare video e performance dal vivo. Così Pina Bausch, Trisha Brown o Merce Cunningham si alternano a Micheal Jackson, alla Haka degli All Blacks (i salti dei Maasai), il musical, le danze egizie di May Wigman, semplici video di YouTube in cui persone normali danzano prese dall’emozione.

Se l’opera si limitasse a questa carrellata video e al suo corrispettivo coreografico dal vivo, non sarebbe niente di più che un grande lavoro di montaggio. Invece tutto questo materiale non si limita a mostrarsi ma racconta un’evoluzione di vita e morte e rinascita, di comparazione tra umano, animale e inanimato. Ogni cosa danza e manifesta il canto della vita a fronte della sua caducità. L’ultimo sguardo della danzatrice Ramona Caia, rivolto agli spettatori, lascia a noi la prossima mossa. Un invito a danzare la nostra coreografia. Non solo: ci troviamo di fronte anche a un confronto tra tradizione e innovazione, dove appare evidente che gli stimoli alla composizione possono venire da qualsiasi genere e materiale possibile, e come il calco, genera sempre uno scarto dall’originale, un passaggio di testimone, una diffusione di stimoli che partorisce nuove forme a partire dalle vecchie. Un tema estremamente attuale in un periodo storico in cui sembra si sia formata una cesura tra le vecchie e le nuove generazioni di artisti interrompendo parzialmente quel passaggio di tecniche e idee compositive donato da una generazione all’altra con il compito di apprendere e poi variare il canone ricevuto.

Paneacquaculture 2022
Enrico Pastore