In his classes, says Stefano Fardelli who was in India to choreograph for the Attakalari Diploma Graduation Performance, he usually works with principles from five different contemporary dance techniques — Cunningham technique, floor-work, release technique, physical theatre and Feldenkrais technique.
“What I do is contemporary dance and as all choreographers do, I created my ‘style’ collecting all the knowledge I got from my past experiences and also from the present lifestyle,” says the Italian dancer-choreographer, who was here as part of a cultural exchange with the Attakalari Centre for Movement Arts, supported by the Italian Embassy of Mumbai.
“I came to India for the first time in 2013 and have been so impressed by the country and its culture. Once back in Europe, I created my solo dance ‘Svarupa-vyakta’, the title of which is derived from the combination of two Sanskrit words inspired by a trip to Varanasi. The piece won a prize at its première at the Gdansk Solo Dance Contest 2014 in Poland and after that I went on tour with this creation around the world.”
The cultural exchange with the embassy began in 2016 with a two-month project.
“It went so well that we did it again for another four months in the same year and then another six months in 2017. In these periods I had the time to share my experiences and knowledge with their students and also do some personal research.”
This resulted in several new pieces including ‘Links’ in 2016 and a duet, ‘From I to A By Eleven Movements’ followed by ‘Hugs in Space’ and then ‘98288’.
“‘From I to A By Eleven Movements’ is not a project for students but is a piece that I dance with an Indian dancer and try to mix the two different dance cultures together. The choreography is also supported by Compagnia Excursus that has been supporting all my productions for many years,” says the dancer who graduated from the MAS Academy in Milano, where he studied under Susanna Beltrami.
“Since I travel around the world for most of the year, I am inspired by my trips and my encounters with foreign cultures. In ‘Links’, I was inspired by the electric cables criss-crossing the skies in the Indian cities while ‘98288’ is inspired by the Holocaust in Europe.”
He says it is not easy to explain contemporary dance today because of the fusion that has been happening in the last few years between contemporary dance and other styles of dance, theatre and martial arts.
“Somehow, contemporary dance is subjective and personal but we also have to say that all contemporary techniques we have now could not exist without the first choreographers that started to break the ballet rules like Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and others who developed the first ‘pure’ contemporary techniques we have in the dance history.” His tryst with dance began when he started taking ballet and modern jazz classes and two year later, an Italian teacher decided to invest in his talent. “She prepared me, without taking any money, for the most important contemporary dance academy in Milan and one year later, I was accepted into the school and my life changed forever. During my years at school, I discovered what contemporary dance was and fell in love with it,” says Stefano, who teaches the technique around the world, including at The Place in London and has worked with organisations such as the Berlin Opera, BBC, Royal Finland Opera, Cie Twain Company and English National Opera. And he still cannot explain why he loves the dance form. “It would be like trying to explain why you love your partner, you fall in love with the other without knowing why. It is natural and in love it is all so effortless, when two become one. It is the same for me with dance. I don’t see dance as separate from me, dance is my life and it is me,” he observes.
“There is never a time when I actually ‘start’ or ‘stop’ working because I keep thinking, creating, being inspired and practically working all day.”