Sull’attimo – In the moment
Camilla Monga & Emanuele Maniscalco
We all aspire to live in the moment, to savour the here and now and not drift away to the past or future. And in Sull’attimo, the performers appear to have arrived in this almost nirvana-like state.
Three dancers, including choreographer Camilla Monga, embody a movement style as soft and billowing as their outfits. Arms circle the air and reach out with gentle intent, in sharp contrast to the square blocks of colour adorning the floor. Moments of improvisation dissolve into pockets of unison, as Monga and fellow dancers Stefano Roveda and Francesco Saverio Cavaliere glide in and out of solos, duets and trios. Cavaliere in particular is a compelling presence, spinning like a whirling dervish across the stage.
All the while, composer Emanuele Maniscalco matches their every move with live freestyle jazz. His brush caresses the drums, his fingers float across the piano and an atmosphere of meditative, almost soporific ease fills the room.
The rough choreographic premise of Camilla Monga and Emanuele Maniscalco’s Sull’attimo – In the moment is an opening phrase of movement which is deconstructed and revisited throughout the work, in occasionally predictable ways.
Monga and two male dancers glide with soothing softness as their arms reach, brace, and gather, in step with their cat-like footwork. There’s a nice juxtaposition of styles here between Monga’s gentleness, Stefano Roveda’s sobriety of movement and Francesco Saverio’s balletic qualities. From this phrasing, composer Maniscalo plays a partly improvised musical score; sitting upstage between a drum kit and a piano, he alternates between jazz chords and simple rhythms, sometimes playing both instruments at once.
Mondrian-like coloured squares on the white dance floor and soft costume tones add to the eloquence and beauty, but it’s all too busy. In this respect, dance is a bit like jazz: add too many variations and you can lose the sense that anything is really happening.
As its title suggests, In the moment is an invitation to enter a meditative state. Choreographer Camilla Monga dances alongside Stefano Roveda and Francesco Saverio Cavaliere; their movements organically linked to the airy jazz music played live by Emanuele Maniscalco (also the co-creator). The dancers ripple like water snakes, in successive solos, duos and trios.
As a whole, the piece is resolutely coherent: the tight interplay between musician and dancers creates a continuous flow of movement and rhythm that envelops the audience in a cosy lukewarm cocoon. Monga’s arms make the spirals of the music visible in space. But this intrinsic unity makes it harder to grasp – nothing sticks out, neither good nor bad. In any case, it allows us to pay close attention to the beautiful physical quality of the three dancers.
Sull’attimo – In the moment also exists as a film, with wide-angle lenses and soaring drone shots over Italy’s Sella Valley. In the film, Mother Nature is framed as much a star of the show as performer, Camilla Monga, herself. So, how on earth does the piece translate to the stage?
With musician Emanuele Maniscalco live on piano and drums, and with two male dancers accompanying Monga in her ‘meditative state’, the piece turns out to be an entirely different beast. Yes, it is part-choreographed and part-improvised, much like the film. And yes, the movement is liquid, much like the mountain stream. Only, there is no stream in sight, indeed, no nature to interact with. Other than human nature, that is.
And this is where In the moment gives us glimpses of its title, in stolen looks and knowing smiles between dancers. If only they were more than just glimpses. Then we might have sensed a deeper connection, both within the dance and, ultimately, to it.