Corriere della Sera

1 June 2004, p. 53

Dance of memory at the former asylum

Santa Maria della Pietà, a dance troupe at the symbolic places with the “Praise of Folly”

They oscillate, fluctuate, stay. In the balance between show and truth, steps of dance and daily gestures, in a performance halfway between stage and audience. They interpret the mental disease as an escape of the spirit from the body, neighter disgusting, nor guilty. An escape to photograph and to know. To which to assist like witnesses not judges. Common to everywhere and to every time. Possible in the 15th century as in the two thousand. True at the time when Erasmus wrote his ‘In Praise of Folly’, valid even today. The dancers of the company ‘In between’ are a multiple body composed from different elements, born from experiences and Roman sites. It was Ezio Tangini, inhabitant of that zone of North Rome powerfully influenced from the architecture of the Santa Maria della Pietà to have the idea of a company that danced in the asylums of the past. ” I passed and I saw those persons behind the gates. Often swearing, screaming”, it remembers Tangini, co-author of the company and author of their first show “SOMETHING IN BETWEEN”. ‘In between’ is a cosmopolitan and adult company.

The dancer-authors have between the thirty and forty years and do different occupations, only joined from the idea that the dance aids the acquaintance. And that history and art can form an alliance in defense of values like the memory. Yann van Steenbrugghe, dancer, one of them, was born at Paris. His mother, psychiatrist, worked in a hospital. She cured her patients with a normal life in which there was space for the reading, the representation, the expression. In exchange they manifactured games for Yann.

Started from a performance inspired by the Praise of Erasmus and organized within the “Drying room” of Santa Maria della Pietà, Yann, Ezio and the others, Mariuccia Rostellato of Padua and Flavia Ghisalberti of Basel, are planning to achieve the same in other Italian and European cities. Anywhere there are the places symbol of the psychiatric detainment. Buildings liberated from the pain of the imprisonment of the mentally ill, as Santa Maria della Pietà, precisely. Mental hospitals ‘former’ waiting to reconvert to a new identity. The project has been selected by the permanent representation for Italy to the European Commission of Culture and is waiting to financing for a second summer performance within the Santa Maria della Pietà. ‘ We would like to draw attention to these places – explains Tangini, author of the subject – in order to protect the memory’. For this they mean to bring it in other towns in which the places of detention for mentally ill have become heritage of the collective memory. The Cottolengo of Turin, the former Mental Hospitals of Venice and Genoa. Evocative symbols.

Places still perceived with a thrill from the inhabitants passing by. Evidence of a time when the madness was similar to a fault. Before the thesis of Basaglia led back the insanity to its category as that of a disease, precisely. Transforming forever the insane in patients, rather than beasts. The madness like escape, the memory like therapy. Once again, the experience as a resource by not dissipate. The idea is simple.

Ilaria Sacchettoni