Dance Review on "The Barber of Seville"

28 Dec 2018 | Ashley

There are rare cases when shows are free, but this is an exception. "The Barber of Seville", not the opera, but rather, a dance interpretation by an Italian Dance Company, Artemis Danza, was presented by the Consulate General of Italy in Hong Kong. I was genuinely impressed by the performance.

After having watched quite a few performances from the New Vision Arts Festival, I was desperate for something less multi-media and more raw in terms of presentation. This did it for me. There were no strange, stylistic lightings, no set, just powerful dancers, choreography, simple costumes and funny props. This is the kind of performance where without the talent and the potential of literal "performance", there could be no show. I was totally into it.

Curtain Call

First off, I could feel that this is a genderless performance. With 3 young female and 3 young male dancers, they made a great team. All of them were in simple costumes which could be their dance practice suits. At times, they would wear something over it, like huge robes that covered the whole body, concealing any distinct characteristics of gender or sex. In fact, as the choreographer, Monica Casadei said at the beginning of the show, each character was up for selection like a pageant. This explains why each of them had their own solo where they showcased different personalities.

My favorite solo would be the dark-skinned girl in this very feminine dress which she wore on top of her dancing suit. I remembered it to be the most feminine and seductive scene in the show. She did not have much movement, but her little wiggles, seductive expressions, and the opera soundtrack composed by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini gave her piece a cheeky feeling. There was also another solo by another girl who had a completely different persona than her. The girl was, instead, masculine, powerful and energetic with her big movements and the robe which moved with her. Then, of course, there was this male dancer who did a ridiculously comical routine as he put shaving cream all over his face, and tried to get them off with the water in a metal container. They completely played parody to "The Barber of Seville" and the humor was undoubtedly communicated.

Booklet of the show

There was also another weirdly funny scene which still has me cringing but laughing. If I understood correctly the composition of the scene, there were three girls involved. Each of them had their long hair all hanging to the front. In each of their hands, they held beside their heads a cheerleading ball that came to about the length of their hair. So that they were creating the illusion of many heads. As they moved from one side of the stage to another side, they moved in rhythmic sync. Each movement with a little wiggle. This was again, going back to the roots of performing arts, the props and the corporeal performances. Also, I need to praise the girls for their extremely powerful performance. The boys were comparatively less energetic and on point, yet still great. But the girls were really dominating the scene, with their clear and fast movements.

Although I have never seen the opera of "The Barber of Seville", this dance performance was enough to be a show of its own. There might be references from the original opera piece which I did not get, but I genuinely enjoyed the performance. The dancers were very talented. The choreography was interesting and refreshing to watch. I also liked how simple and classic it was in terms of the ways of performing. It also definitely did not lack humor!

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