Iranian premiere - Tehran - March 2019
The Unseen or ادیده is a solo created in Iran, for an iranian dancer. The project is commissioned by Pindoc for Stefano Fardelli Dance Projects and supported by Italian Embassy of Tehran and by KahKeshan of Tehran.
Despite the government tensions and the strong political-religious regime in the country, during March 2019 Stefano Fardelli went to Tehran to meet the local community of dancers, who are forced to live like wanted criminals.
Dance is illegal in Iran, the strict rules of Islam prohibit dance except for some traditional forms; contact between bodies of different sexes is prohibited and women must wear the veil.
They can take it off only in the presence of women or their husbands. Daringly, Stefano Fardelli has been taken to one of the few secret dance studios in the country. All the people involved had to be very careful not to be seen: they all entered a few at a time in the garage of a building, where Stefano Fardelli was honored to be introduced to a world full of dreams and hopes and had the pleasure to meet 35 young dancers from all over the nation.
They were there to welcome him, to listen to him and to receive what he had to share with them. In Iran people exchange information as if they are spies, creating endless and incredible networks of word of mouth. They do not feel represented by their government, they do not believe in their leaders, they live in constant fear of what may happen to them if they do not respect the strict laws of their country.
The city of Tehran has its own extraordinary charm, a very rich history and culture. The iranians are a hospitable people with extraordinary and ancient traditions. During Stefano Fardelli´s ten days of residence at Kahkeshan, during the meetings with the students, he selected one of the participants to work on this solo-performance. They worked together for a week and then presented the piece to a few “trusted” ones: obviously we couldn’t advertise and we couldn’t let people know what we were doing.
It is also true that people “know” and “see” what is happening, they simply pretend not to see unless they get personally involved, or decide to defy this “fear” in which they constantly live. This is what happens to us, as well. We “see” things every day, in our daily life or on TV. We know what is happening in the world, but we pretend not to see – out of laziness, or out of fear.
We will not disclose the identity of the dancer, in order to protect his safety. The creative process was complex and articulated. He had to work blindfolded, his movements were limited. By this deliberate constriction he could obtain a unique quality of movement, inspired by the experience Stefano Fardelli was living with those groups.
The choreographic code was defined and dictated by the tasks given for the creation of the sequences. Through various improvisations, they kept filming with a camera the movements of the boy, alone or with other blindfolded volunteers who created new limits. Then they showed to the dancer the video and asked him to learn the most interesting sequences he had created. The result is a piece where the dancer is not blindfolded, but is able to achieve the same quality of movement that has been created in the dark – with all the limits, the hesitations and the outbursts of those who seek for the light.
Likewise, all the documentary material, photos and videos were shot by placing a semi-covering bandage over the camera lens, in order to hide the performer’s identity, but also to recreate the conditions in which the protagonist lived. His movements reflect his daily mood, the alienation which, year after year, has become “normal”.
The performance begins with the entrance of the public, who will find some sings hanging in mid-air, telling the thoughts and the stories of those who come from Iran, and those who have already seen the show. The public will read the sings and then leave a comment about its experience of the event.
Through a hall-stage, spectators are introduced in the performance space, where they are given a semi-opaque black blindfold. Everyone knows that the dancer-performer is among them, but no one knows who he/she is. Everyone wears bandages. The lights go out.
The dancer takes off his clothes and puts them in a corner. Underneath he wears other clothes and moves to another part of the room, in order not to be recognized. The dance begins. The audience becomes part of the performance, moving and reacting to the movements of the protagonist, creating new spaces for the dance. The audience catches a glimpse of the boy. It’s nothing more than shadows – sometimes clearer, sometimes darker. But all spectators can feel his breath in the dark. Sometimes they are touched by the performer, or accidentally bump into him. And in the meanwhile, they get involved in the performative process
At the peak of this experience, the dancer stops and the light goes out. The boy gets dressed, changes his place in the space, and the lights come on again.
Now everyone can take off his bandages. They all look around to try and understand who is the dancer, that brave man who has taken such a risk. Some understand it, others don’t, others pretend not to understand… .but it does not matter.
Before returning home, spectators are asked to write, in their native language, the emotions and sensations experienced during the performance and immediately after it. These testimonials will be hung with the others before the start of the next performance, and read by the new visitors.
Everyone goes out when he feels like it according to his personal needs, leaving the echo of what has been and what will be in the every day life of these lands, that are not so far from us.