Westpac St James, Wellington

15/03/2006 - 18/03/2006

New Zealand International Arts Festival

Production Details

Artistic director: Mauro Bigonzetti

Italy’s leading contemporary ballet company visits new Zealand for the first time, with a stunning triple bill of contrasting works.

Set to a live performance of Neopolitan songs, high-spirited Cantata evokes the passions, colours and wild beauty of the Meditteranean south … Omaggio a Bach is a moving personal tribute to Hohan Sebastian Bach abd was created to commemorate the 250th anniversary of teh composer’s death … With Songs, a sensual and refined pas-de-trois, artistic director Mauro Bigonzetti returns to Henry Purcell, one of his favourite composers …

Performed by Gruppo Musicale Assurd

Dance ,

2 htrs, incl. interval

Triumphant festival finale

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 22nd Mar 2006

As I went into the St James for the Italian Compagnia Aterballetto, I met Carla von Zon who greeted me with "you have to like this one!" I did. The perfect triple bill programme danced by this highly provocative, technically stunning and effervescent company directed by Mauro Bigonzetti, built as the evening progressed, culminating in a standing ovation and an audience as jubilant as the dancers.

The opening Omaggio a Bach was visually intriguing with a giant ball reflecting arcs of light and a sculptural and angular dance vocabulary used to respond in a very studied manner to the musical phrases. Lighting that accentuated almost un-human aspects of the dancers’ high tensile bodies and a perpetual use of the same stylised movement motifs and frieze-like lines of bas relief shapes somehow did not sit easily with the flow and swell of this music although there were beautiful legs and classically derived lifts aplenty.

The second work, Songs, set to songs by Henry Purcell, was more interesting. A trio for two men and a curiously manipulated and truncated woman, this held the interest and unfolded with constantly changing angles and energies through many variations of falling, releasing and contracting the bodies on the sparse and open stage. There was a dark, predatory side to this and the constant gestures and incompleted port de bras seemed to instil a sinister quality? 

It was in the third work, Cantata, that these dancers went from being interesting and proficient to making a significant statement in an explosion of riveting and triumphant expression. Original and traditional music was performed onstage by Gruppo Musicale Assurd. Four musicians singing and using tambourine, catagnettes,a drum and vocals really set the pulses going. The dance evolved from the music in a portrayal and comment on a range of relationships ending in a gypsy like frenzy of lifts and throws and exhilaration. 

Outstanding in a company of individually wonderful dancers were Ashen Ataljanc, who personified independent woman with that personal self knowledge that carries absolute authority and a trio that dealt with the negative energies and potential for violence in any intense relationship where passions run high and choices are made. Stefania Mariottini, Valerio Longo and Walter Matteini relentlessly went into that danger zone where love and hate are perilously  interchangeable. The emotions and liaisons moved past in a whirl of equally edgy choreography using impossible jumps, near misses and assured technical virtuosity. These dancers were completely absorbed in their dancing and their stories and the audience went with them all the way.

A triumphant evening and Aterballetto made friends and lovers of all of us! Bella, bella, bellissimo! What a way to end this International festival!


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