Dance in France: Impressions of Company Silenda (Laura Simi & Damiano Foa)

Dance in France: Impressions of Company Silenda (Laura Simi & Damiano Foa)

Published on April 28, 2015

At Studio Le Regard du Cygne, Paris

Company Silenda (Laura Simi & Damiano Foa)

Festival signes de printemps (Signs of Spring Festival)

at Studio Le Regard du Cygne, Paris

April 17, 2015

Both works on this program, Titre Inachevé (Unfinished Title) choreographed by Damiano Foa and Shut up!, a collaboration between choreographer Laura Simi and composer Jean­Noël Françoise, tap into how light, sound, and movement can work together to create pockets of enhanced visceral experience.

The topic of Fao's Titre Inachevé (Unfinished Title), 'how life advances as an unlimited series of inacheivements ( unfinished actions)', does not make for a particularly engaging experience though. Foa moves with ease, agility, and grace, but his lack of attachment to, or intention behind,  movement keeps me at distance.  He propels through space and time, detached from the complexity of patterns flowing smoothly from his body.

Damiano Fao crouches as he watches his collaborator Laura Simi perform a dance move on her back with her legs in the air

I am not convinced that his motorcycle helmet, ­­ looking very much like a gas mask, ­­ serves any purpose except to support one head spin midway through the work. Undressing from a black motorcycle jacket, to a sweater, a shirt, and ultimately to bare chest, seems equally random.

But the music, by both Jean­Noël Françoise and Perig Villerbu, and lighting, by Stéphane Babi Aubert, work together to create a cradle of vibrating movement and that left me with a tangible memory of this physical experience.

The second work, Shut up!, begins with the composer recording a simple sound sequence into each of the seven microphones that frame the space. Each recording station repeats its phrase at different volumes and intensities, creating an almost visible sea of overlapping sound. Even before Laura Simi enters the space, Jean­Noël Françoise' attention rests intently on her as he continues to create the soundscape that is the foundation of this collaborative work.

Damiano watches his collaborator Laura Simi in the background. Simi executes a backbend with her mouth agape
Photo: Sebastien Laurent

The choreographer, Simi, is only aware of the music, the space, and the impulses that project her this way and that across the stage. A little dynamo of energy, her intensity and commitment to each moment and gesture draw me in. Half-hidden and hooded in a black parka, her movements are more awkward than graceful, yet I find her riveting.

At first, Françoise and his sound stations drive her with a feast of rhythms at play on her body. He turns the mikes toward her, capturing the sound of her pants brushing against the floor as she thrashes on her side and adding it to the mixture. A crescendo sends her toward us, silently mouthing the chaos we hear. It courses through her, right at us.

I am impressed how Françoise holds his own as a sincere and focused performer. He approaches Simi with fascinated tenderness, as if she is the most curious and beautiful of experiments. They work well together, hands trembling as they touch the ground, intensifying until they are shaking their fingers accusingly at each other to what sounds almost, but not quite, like a siren. I love how she pushes him back to his station, behind his equipment, with her voice miming the music that he is still generating.

Laura Simi dressed like Cousin It from

Ultimately, Françoise covers Simi with her coat again, now enhanced with a fur lining that hides her completely. (Like 'It' from "The Addams Family.") He covers her mouth with his hand, satisfied. Her clicking sounds are amplified through the fluff as she gesticulates, arms raised. (I think of politicians and public speakers.) But who's voice is it really? Who is in control? Who has the power?  In this collaboration, anyway, it seems a solid joint venture.


The Italian team Laura Simi and Damiano Foa, and their company Silenda, are currently based in Caen, France.

Titre Inachevé (Unfinished Title) choreographed and performed by Damiano Foa

Music by Jean­Noël Françoise, Perig Villerbu

Text by Ettore Labile

Lighting by Stéphane Babi Aubert

Voix off by Fanny Catel and Gregory Gilbert

Shut up! Performed by Laura Simi and Jean Noël Françoise

Choreography by Laura Simi

Music by Jean­Noël Françoise

Lighting by Stéphane Babi Aubert

Lighting réigsseuse Audrey Quesnel

Sound régie Perig Villberbu

Costumes by Sophie Ongaro

Company Silenda:

Studio Le Regard du Cygne:



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