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Between memory and vision by Irene Filiberti

He works in a kind of ritual harmony, without giving in to sensationalism. The event of his dance, is due to this inner conduct, away from the fashions, the flow of speeches, images, technology that beset the everyday.

At Paco Dècina, no frenzy or search for mastery, but a quality of time, whose slowness to the almost palpable flow augurs a subtle journey. Listening and looking occupy a special place in the Neapolitan choreographer's approach. Sharpened from silence and darkness, they have opened a path to infinity, a kind of enigmatic quest that each piece makes its mark on. As if absorbed by the secret of body language, Paco Dècina has evolved his research and experimentation into a delicate work of Epure. Entirely dedicated to the mystery of dance, to the invisible worlds that haunt it or that it conceals, her writing brings out a little of the impossible to name that underlies her approach to bodies and movement. While his pieces appear to us as majestic contemplations sealed in the abstraction of gestures.

Since 1986, and a creation for four dancers, Palm Trees on Colva Beach, Paco Dècina has gradually abandoned figures and objects, ancient or Byzantine motifs around which the bodies gravitated on stage in his first pieces. Dreams illuminated by turns motionless or in motion (Ombre in rosso antico, 1989) , mental landscape (Mare rubato, 1996) have gradually faded during the company's twenty years of existence. Always more withdrawn, consciously anachronistic posture in the landscape of THE ACTUALITY, Paco Dècina has focused more on the body and space, light and color. He tightened his words and made him disappear to the slightest sign. In 1997, Preface to a Shadow, a solo written for a dancer, Maria Donata d'Urso, Infini solo by Paco Dècina created in homage to Christian Ferry, and Five Passages in the Shadows, a piece for five performers, are the mark of a profound transformation at the heart of her work. Both from the point of view of the danced movement and from its approach to the stage space. The change of millennia is also for the choreographer the beginning of a new period. With Neti-Neti (2000) a duet created for the young performers who join his company, Valeria Apicella and Paolo Rudelli, the choreographer engages his dance in the continuum of movement. Coming from a dialect of India, the title means this, nor that . In danced terms, it is a matter of extracting tensions and oppositions in order to find a space for untying. This kind of overtaking requires a state of abandonment. From this "non-want" is born a fluid and carnal gesture that privileges the curves and the winding of gestures. It gives dance its collected quality, its sense of space and dialogue, a quality of touch that is a reflection.

In residence at the Theatre of the International City since November 2005, the Paco Dècina Company, recently created a duet performed by Valeria Apicella and Paco Dècina. In this piece, the choreographer reveals another facet of the movement's resources. Trajectories and tracings, distance and melee, gestures worn or erased, bodies present or missing, supported, deported, intensified in the vibration of the lights give a new face to the dance. Selds without armor evolve in the pulsation of the heart, to the rhythm of emotions immersed in the radiation of a powerful red. Another way to reconnect with this intimate space where the "theatre of feelings" is played out, to suspend time to connect with the invisible worlds and the possibilities it houses.

Still in the making, a future metamorphosis must be accomplished through the indigo color that titles his new creation planned with six dancers. The poetic of the sensitive, born of intuition and the phenomena of perception at the origin of the danced movement, is accompanied here by a particular search around light. After questioning the breath (Soffio 2003), Paco Dècina continues his reflection by reconnecting with the spectral dimension of his approach. With a conviction that is part of the fundamentals of choreographic art: "Dance is not the space traveled, but the movement being accomplished. It is the nudity under the garment of the codified movement, the life of the present moment that appears in the form of "recognized". To question the body is to question the world."

The choreographer's world by Agnès Izrine

There is obviously no need to dwell on the implicit derisiveness of the name “Post Retroguardia”, given by Paco Dècina to his dance company to reflect the compulsive self-searching that pervades the avant-garde of today. Decina, who came from Naples to live and work in France, evidently holds views running counter to certain prevailing trends that set out to address the social and convivial aspects of performance. The sensuality of his style builds up from the languor that gradually suffuses each gesture : moments are suspended in time, dissolved in stillness. Bodies embrace, fold over each other and float away into an enveloping twilight. His choreography always seems to be in search of the very end of ending, when motion becomes seamlessly motionless.

Cette gestuelle prend une dimension sacrée, spirituelle grâce au mélange musical qui ouvre encore l'espace. Il faut dire que Paco Dècina poursuit une recherche toute orientale sur ce qui unit l'être et le cosmos qui se ressent dans ses chorégraphies d'où les heurts sont bannis. Dans ce sens, l'on pourrait presque avancer que Paco Dècina est un utopiste de la dernière heure, lui qui croit encore que l'on peut trouver un chemin qui ne barrerait pas d'un trait la séparation entre le corps et l'esprit.

Body language takes on a sacred, spiritual dimension, as the mixture of music pushes out the boundaries of surrounding space. Through choreography that banishes conflict of any kind, Paco Dècina is clearly pursuing reflections of a wholly Oriental nature on the links between being and the cosmos. Paco Dècina could almost be seen as a latter-day Utopian, pursuing his belief in a path that does not inevitably cleave body from mind. His choreography seems to emanate from silence, like the hum that precedes an evening raga. The music that accompanies his pieces are often Oriental in inspiration, drawing on the breath of a wind instrument, the timbre of a voice. Because of this, they can be considered as bodily and choreographic elements in themselves. The lighting is finely tuned, chiselling space into a kind of darkly lit void where gestures linger as if etched.

In many of his pieces, light sliding over the curve of an arm creates a sense of sinuous, marine existence, its fluid curves scooping out a shallow cup of eternity in the flow of time. A pattern that might be an ideogram of dance is etched into the air, the traces of a body gradually sculpted from space.

Lines grow stronger, emerging from an inner world : the image trembles as if newly drawn from a photographic bath. From the shadows, emerging in a sequence of hypnotic metamorphoses, a form appears, nameless and magnificent like a god that’s half animal. But no – the form is a man, a woman, and the couple they form diffracts into lines repeated in slow, sweeping gestures, as they clutch, embrace and vanish in a tactile, concentrated, sensitively choreographed dance.

The extraordinarily fluid reach of their body movements is sufficient unto itself : contained tilts, rolls, reptation and running steps, fusion and confusion of being, running in unison, all create a dance that is ultimately mystical and contemplative, tending to a stillness that prompts meditation. Despite the refinement of gesture that brings the spectator a sense of entering the intimate thoughts of the dancer, the choreographer’s interest lies more in the hiatus, the interval, between one movement and the next, than in its final form. Hence the sense of bodies in perpetual transformation or eternal rebirth. “It wasn’t the day, it wasn’t the night”, says the title of his latest work, but the phrase could well encapsulate every dance piece created by a choreographer who plays on his ability to remain in the soft, shadowy twilight of the witching hour…

*From "Diversity of today's choreographic landscape" france dance, Volume 2 (AFAA 2003)

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