Choreographed and Directed by Bianca Falco; Composed by Alberto Falco
Off Off Broadway, Dance
Runs through 4.2.17
La MaMa, 74A East 4th Street
by Ran Xia on 4.2.17
Laura Orfanelli and Bianca Delli Priscoli in Terra dei Fuochi / Land of Fires. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
BOTTOM LINE: Terra Dei Fuochi / Land of Fires is Italian artist Bianca Falco’s deeply personal response to the tragedies in Campania due to serious contaminations.
Nothing compares to the pain of a parent losing a child. Yet in Campania, Italy, it has become almost a daily occurrence. Since the 1980s, toxic wastes have been buried there under the open sky, turning the once “fertile countryside” to a “land of fires.” The contaminated air, water, and land are linked to cancer and high mortality rates, especially in children.
It is the goal of Bianca Falco (a dancer and choreographer originally from that very region) to share the stories of Campania’s suffering mothers with a global audience. Part modern dance, part documentary theatre, Terra Dei Fuochi was created with a multitude of love and compassion. Falco performs the first solo of the piece, accompanied by a voiceover story about a mother’s loss of her son Antonia to glioblastoma, an incurable, monstrous brain cancer that destroys its victims’ memories, abilities to function, and ultimately life so rapidly that it almost feels like a curse. Falco’s body in motion radiates the indescribable pain that enables a true connection with the mothers interviewed for the project.
The narrative expands as dancers Laura Orfanelli and Bianca Delli Priscoli perform an immaculate duet while holding framed photos of Antonia and Mesia, victims of the “land of fires.” The stylized, exquisite movements are combined with documentary-style video projections, which create a truly evocative narrative that’s at once abstract and hyper realistic. It makes you think of a fable, one that might happen in any desolate land, where young children are sacrificed to a bloodthirsty, ravenous, insatiable monster in exchange for temporary release. Except this time, in the very real tale of Campania, the monster is a man-made disaster.
Composer Alberto Falco (brother of Bianca Falco) creates a perfect soundscape for the piece. The auditory elements are half industrial and half savage, as if a rhythmic gurgling of a dystopian land holding onto its last breath: sounds of memories, wind chimes, a squeaking rocking chair, and static from a radio all become a disturbingly familiar atmospheric backdrop that complements and clashes with the romantic choreography in the foreground.
Terra Dei Fuochi / Land of Fires is a transformative 45 minutes. It will guide you to new introspection with its extremely heavy yet hopeful end. Falco includes a link to her blog in the program, with which she wishes to “start a dialogue, to inform about what is happening in Campania and compare it to everywhere in the world.” Here in the United States, the seemingly distant story is indeed a mirror through which we can see our future. With DAPL set to begin, it seems the “distance” is diminishing every day. Falco was moved to create Terra Dei Fuochi / Land of Fires because of a disaster caused by ignorance; hopefully the rest of the world will recognize this familiarity and work to prevent unnecessary tragedies while we still can.
(Terra dei Fuochi / Land of Fires plays at La MaMa First Floor Theater, 74A East 4th Street, through April 2, 2017. The running time is 45 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Thursdays to Saturdays at 7:30; and Sundays at 2. Tickets are $20 and are available at lamama.org or by calling 646-430-5374.)
Terra dei Fuochi / Land of Fires is choreographed and directed by Bianca Falco. Composed by Alberto Falco. Lighting Design is by Marcello Falco.
The cast is Bianca Delli Priscoli, Laura Orfanelli, and Biana Falco.