Festival TransAmériques presents

Save the last dance for me

A Dance on the Road to Extinction

Moving to the rhythm of a techno heartbeat, dancers Gianmaria Borzillo and Giovanfrancesco Giannini whirl around, eyes locked on each other. Sometimes crouched in a wrestling stance, they perform a traditional Italian ballroom dance until they’re exhausted. Their enactment of this ritual becomes athletic, magnetic, visceral. Joined together, the two men hold each other gracefully, defying stereotypes of gender identity. Tenderness and technical mastery combine in a moving act of collaboration.

The Italian artist Alessandro Sciarroni incorporates diverse physical activities, including sports, juggling, and folk dance, into contemporary performance, blurring the boundaries between disciplines. Through dance workshops held in conjunction with the show wherever it plays, Save the last dance for me is reviving the polka chinata, a folk dance on the verge of disappearing. Sciarroni is ensuring that this living heritage is passed on, putting a contemporary spin on it in a rigorous, hypnotic show that’s truly magical.

“In the 1990s, the polka chinata had disappeared completely, but when Giancarlo Stagni, a professor from Bologna whom I had the chance to meet, saw a video of it from the 60s, he decided to study this traditional dance and teach it to his dancers. That was how the polka chinata was revived.”

“My fascination with this dance comes first of all from the fact that it’s performed by two men, which is odd and rare for a ballroom dance. I was also inspired by its hypnotic nature. While I was observing the dancers, I had the impression that I was watching something that was both old and new at once. Also, since it was only practiced by five people in the world, I wanted to share it with a small community of others to keep it alive. Since it’s difficult and takes a long time to learn, I created workshops designed to revive this folk dance that was on the road to extinction.”

“An anthropologist from Bologna explained to me that a dance doesn’t die, since it’s not like plants, animals, or human beings. There’s already an implication of something ephemeral and temporary. Sometimes, dances disappear then reappear in the next generation, as was the case with the polka chinata. A dance only disappears when there’s no one left who remembers it.” – Alessandro Sciarroni

Dates and Locations
May 28 – 29: Marché Maisonneuve
Free, no booking required

May 31 – June 1: Cité-des-Hospitalières

June 2 – 3: Casa d’Italia
Meet the artist after the performance on June 2
Relaxed Performance on June 3

For more information, including performance times and tickets, visit: www.fta.ca

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