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In Performance: Alessandro Sciarroni’s Don’t be frightened of turning the page (Santarcangelo Festival)

Alessandro Sciarroni
Don’t be frightened of turning the page
July 6-8, 2018

In “Don’t be frightened of turning the page,” Alessandro Sciarroni performs a solo rendition of the endurance and repetition strategies that characterize his work. The piece begins as fluorescent fixtures switch on in series with an ominous electric thump and crackle. Sited in a high school gym for the version we saw, spectators sit on gym mats around the central court markings; the lines quickly become recontextualized into boundaries for the extreme sport and play that Sciarroni offers. Sciaronni enters, marks the diagonals like a gymnast starting a floor routine, but the gesture quickly turns into a different pattern: an accelerating ramp up to the main choreography.

While the central concept of “Don’t be frightened” revolves around the turn— the physical, choreographic turn— the work circles around a play and engagement with periodicity and pattern. Pushed by layered, luminous sound loops, the central turning dance evolves gesture and narrative structures as the piece unfurls. Sciarroni evokes emotion and character and then quickly reabsorbs them in the vortex— music box ballerinas, lovers, gangsters, dervishes— the effect like watching a reverse zoetrope with the animations in the center and the images constantly develop from one into another.

Despite the intense labor of the piece, Sciarroni performs with grace and apparent ease. In a final turn around the performance space, he expands the circle outward to explicitly incorporate the audience in the joy of that labor. Arms open wide riding the boundaries of the space, we ask where do we turn to next?

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