Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nove100 Exhibition in Parma Worth a Trip From Anywhere

From now until the 25th of April, the lovely city of Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy hosts a unique exhibition to commemorate the restoration of the Governor Palace (Il Palazzo del Governatore). The scope of this exhibition covers some of the finest work in Italy created during the 20th century in Art, Photography, Architecture, Fashion and Design. For the first time, the main holdings of the CSAC (Center of Studies and Archive of Communication) of the University of Parma will be available for viewing in various locations throughout the city. All of the locations are in the beautiful historical center of Parma and within walking distance of each other.

This exhibition contains such names as: Armani, Baj, Boetti, Burri, Castiglioni, Ceroli, Fabro, Ferrè, Fontana, Ghirri, Guttuso, Krizia, Mari, Munari, Nervi, Pistoletto, Gio Ponti, Man Ray, Schifano, Sironi, Sottsass, Valentino and Versace.

Il Palazzo del Governatore will hold both the Art and Photography exhibits. The Art exhibit displays 120 works on the Piano Nobile, while the Photography section on the second floor boasts 600 images.

The nearby San Ludovico gallery houses the Fashion exhibit, featuring 80 drawings and dresses by such luminaries as Albini and Valentino. In addition, there are accessories and magazines and books about the fashion industry. The widest collection of fashion sketches in Italy are in the CSAC collection, numbering approximately 85,000. This massive collection was amassed over thirty years of researching.

Architecture and Design is held at Scuderie della Pilotta and includes more than 200 drawings, models and objects.

Nove100 runs until April 25, 2010.

Il Palazzo del Governatore – Art and Photography
Piazza Garibaldi
Telephone: +39 0521 218929

Galleria San Ludovico - Fashion
Borgo Del Parmigiano, 2/b

Scuderie Della Pilotta – Architecture and Design
Via Bodoni, angolo Via Verdi

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spider Dance Weaves Its Web at Theater For the New City, NYC

Foreground: Alessandra Belloni, Fran Sperling, Joe Deninzon and Antonio Fini.

Antonio Fini as Dionysius, Francesca Silvano, Greta Campo and Katerina Ogar.

Alessandra Belloni and the performance troupe, I Giullari di Piazza, have proven once again that creativity and passion is the best form of entertainment. This new production of Spider Dance is full of energy, song, history, pathos, movement and color.

Spider Dance tells the story of Arachne, the skilled weaver who challenges the goddess Athena to a weaving contest and wins. In the ensuing chaos, Athena transforms Arachne into a spider to weave her web forever. This myth found its way into the Southern Italian psyche as the mythical bite of the tarantula that inflicts women and can only be cured by the rhythm and dancing of the frantic 12/8 beat of the Pizzica. The god Dionysus, the plague of the Dark Ages, the Christianization of Pagan rites and the Black Madonna all figure significantly in the development of this production. The musicians are shamans, frame drums hold mystical healing power, fire purifies and dancers whirl and writhe to the madness of the tarantula’s bite.

For those who have seen the show before, changes to this production are noteworthy.
For example, when Belloni first strides onto the stage as Athena, her robe is now deeply slit up both sides, revealing the full length of her legs when certain poses are struck. This change is palpable, as it silently and emphatically communicates Athena’s sexual strength and fierce pride.

The narrator is now a woman, Cynthia Enfield, who further emphasizes the simmering feminine energy that is central to the story. Enfield not only educates the audience and clarifies the story, but often joins in the dancing and action on the stage, blurring the boundary between Greek chorus and the actors. As she moves in and out from the periphery of the stage, her presence is welcome and anticipated as a key player and facilitator.

One of the show’s highlights, Antonio Fini’s dance of fire to the haunting Requiem, has also evolved. This time, one of the female dancers is on stage with Fini at the beginning of the scene, dancing around him as he kneels with his back to the audience before the portrait of the Black Madonna. When the woman leaves the stage, Fini turns toward us with the bowls of fire in each hand on the end of chains and the Dance of Fire begins. The audience is spellbound throughout. To watch a video of the Fire Dance, click here.

The bridge between these ancient stories and modern times is achieved through the addition of hip-hop dancer Michael Garrett. At the close of the show, Garrett springs onto the stage from the audience in sweats and sneakers and performs a mesmerizing combination of hip-hop, break and street dancing to the wild Pizzica rhythms. Garrett’s addition to the cast underscores Belloni’s lifelong paen to the healing power of this form of dance therapy. Her own words say it best: “Young people can have fun and achieve ecstasy without taking Ecstasy… I think women today, and men sometimes, still have (this) syndrome and need to cut free from the web of society. So I think (this) show will always be part of my mission. How can we help, as artists, the people of today identify their web? How can they cut it thru music and dance?”

This production has been extended to Saturday, January 23, 2010:

Date: January 23, 2010
Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Theater for the New City
155 First Ave, near 10 East 10th Street
Tickets: $20 or $15 for seniors, students and children

Alessandra Belloni and Joe Deninzon on electric violin.

Francesca Silvana, Alessandra Belloni and Joe Deninzon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Exhibition Devoted to Piermatteo d’Amelia in Terni and Amelia, Umbria, Italy

If you’re traveling to Umbria early 2010, you might want to put this event on your itinerary. Piermatteo d’Amelia was a one of Umbria’s Renaissance masters, although he is currently lesser known than other artists of his time. Seeking to rectify this, an exhibition is currently running in Terni and Amelia, two small, picturesque Umbrian towns.

Piermatteo d’Amelia served as apprentice to Fillipo Lippi creating the frescos of the Duomo in Spoleto. Later, he served under Fra Diamante in Florence. While at the palace of Angelo Geraldini in Amelia, Piermatteo met Pope Sixtus IV who commissioned him to paint the vault of the Sistine Chapel. He worked with Perugino and Pinturicchio, designing the ceiling and completing The Journey of Moses and The Circumcision. During this time, Piermatteo also completed major commissions in Orvieto, Narni and Terni. His Pala dei Francescani is considered one of the major works of the 15th century.

This exhibition is taking place in two locations: CAOS Museum in Terni and Museo Archeologico and Pinacoteca in the former Collegio Boccarini in Amelia.
The exhibit runs until May 2, 2010.

Terni Location: Centro Arti Opificio Siri (CAOS) Museum
Viale Campofregoso, 98
Tel: 0744 285 946

Amelia Location: Museo Archeologico and Pinacoteca
Piazza Augusto Vera 10

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How This Amateur Learns Italian

As with anything we want to get good at, love is essential. And I love the Italian language. I love how the r’s roll, how the gn’s press the roof of my mouth, how the gl’s touch the back of my throat. I love how expressive it is; its drama and flourish and furtive whispering.

Although I’m half Italian, the only language spoken at home was English. Italian was a secret language my grandmother used with my father when she didn’t want the rest of us to understand. And it worked; none of us knew what they were talking about.

It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I got la lingua Italiana fever. At that time I took my first trip to Italy and did not linguistically prepare myself in the least. What was I thinking? I have no idea. But I as I’ve said before, I thought I was just taking a vacation; I didn’t know I was changing my life forever.

Since then I’ve used a variety of methods to improve my Italian. Am I fluent? No. But I’m always improving and that’s how I like it. To get myself started, I used an audio program that promised to prepare me with basic phrases in 30 days, which it did. It worked so well that these basics coupled with another trip to Italy (immersion; definitely the deep end of the pool) really improved my ear.

But I realized I was clueless about the written language. To help remedy that, I used a ‘teach yourself Italian’ book, which was a big help. But still, I wasn’t practicing the language enough to get comfortable. Then I ventured onto the internet and found a new friend in Italy who helped me practice written Italian while I helped him with his English. That was a huge help. Since then I’ve connected with more Italian friends, both in the US and Italy, with whom I get to practice speaking and writing.

If you are a music lover, this can be a great way to learn Italian. I’ve always loved music so it was natural to buy CD’s of a few artists I liked while in Italy (Renato Zero and Michelle Zarrillo reign supreme right now). Listening to this music makes me happy and relaxed, which lets my brain absorb the words even more. Since I’m curious about what the songs are about, it’s fun to sit down with the lyrics and my Italian-English dictionary (luckily, all the CDs I’ve purchased come with the lyrics. If yours don’t, it’s easy to get the lyrics online). This increases vocabulary, improves pronunciation, teaches idioms and shows me how to string the words together in a coherent way.

Another fun way to learn Italian is to take a class in Italy. I’ve done it a few times and it’s a great experience. My fellow students were from all over the world and shared the same passion for the language. We laughed and (almost) cried together as we tried to clear our linguistic obstacles. We learned that what’s easy for one person can be hard for another, sometimes depending on that person’s native language. Above all, we learned not to take ourselves too seriously and to roll with our mistakes. And sometimes, we really surprised ourselves!

Do you have a favorite way to learn a new language, or have advice about method that didn’t work for you? Let me know.