A group of young dancers orbiting in a circle diverge to cause a visual chaos and unite again. An Asian man tries to break an invisible, mystical shackling force while resisting the temptation of Spanish folk hammering melodies. A mesmerizing, subdued hip-hop number accompanied with a solemn-faced young woman toying with a large hanging ring and a pole.
These images are some of the many memorable dance routines occupying the peculiar, anarchic world of Argentinean choreographer Dani Pannullo, whose latest production “Desordances 3 will be staged tomorrow at the Cairo Opera House.
Pannullo studied dance and theater in Buenos Aires before moving to Madrid to establish his first dance troupe, Lola Products, in the late 1980s. He was influenced by the likes of Philippe Decouflé, Kazuo Onho, Sacha Waltz and Jodoroski, among others.
Pannullo s universe combines urban poetry, social and spiritual experiences and ethos of the metropolis with hip-hop, free jazz, pop tunes and world music in a form of rhythmic gymnastics. The diverse styles of performing arts and contemporary pieces are suffused with imaginative reinterpretations of ancient and traditional dances.
Pannullo s acclaimed creations became a major attraction by the time he founded his self-titled company nine years ago. The roots of this company are street dance, Pannullo said. Most of my dancers are amateurs. I don t believe in the concept of professional dancing. Anyone can dance.
Because of his disregard to academic, trained dancers, Pannullo considers himself an outsider, even in Spain. What makes a good dancer is the character he exhumes on stage, he said. My brand of dancing is direct, straightforward and spontaneous. Classical dancing, for me, is boring and irrelevant to the young people of today.
There are no particular binding themes behind Pannullo s works. Instead, he asserts that his performances are a result of all my travels, the many lessons I ve learned through the years, the various cultures I ve absorbed and the different people I ve encountered.
The root of all street-dancing is the same, according to Pannullo, no matter how different the cultures may appear to be. The strong influence of the media has the same impact everywhere in the world, he stresses. What s perhaps different in a place like the Arab world is that dancers use their bodies in a very poetic manner. Spanish dancers may have more techniques but there s something quite exceptional about Arab dancers.
Pannullo s passion for diversity and experimentation with sundry music and dance genres has driven him to diverse places like Japan and Australia as he continues to produce modern versions of classical plays and dances.
Among his most notable shows is Yukkuri. The clash between the acrobatic impulsiveness of break-dance with the introspective, serene Japanese Butoh yielded an exotic inner voyage that reflected man s never-ending pursuit for self-emancipation.
Oro Negro, a large-scale multifaceted musical executed by more than 30 dancers, was one of his most acclaimed, and popular, performances to date. More ambitious is Tiranah Cabaret, an intimate, emotionally-charged progressive version of German 1930s cabaret. The performance gradually unfolds into an artistic protest against the abasement of women and a figurative representation of alienation and solitude.
Pannullo s latest production in Egypt is a direct consequence of the artist s new-found fascination with Sufism and the Arab world.
The Arab world is this foreign and beguiling place that I found myself increasingly drawn to, he says. I especially admire the people s strong consciousness of God. I haven t witnessed that in Europe where this consciousness has died two or three centuries ago.
Pannullo s interest in Egyptian culture was stimulated by his trip to Cairo last year when he was invited as the guest of the Egyptian International Festival of Contemporary Dance.
With the assistance of the Cairo Opera House, the embassy of Spain in Cairo and the Arab House of Madrid, among other organizations, Pannullo was able to produce the current performance – also entitled B2D: Break to Dervish Madrid-Cairo Project.
B2D features Pannullo s company of experienced Spanish artists along with a group of young Egyptian hip-hop dancers making their public debut with this performance.
Acting as an aesthetic bridge between the two cultures by presenting traditional Egyptian dances alongside Western modern ones, Pannullo regards B2D as a conversation between the two.
“B2D is a love letter that reflects my fondness for and ideas about Arab culture, he says. This show will be no longer be mine. The moment it begins, its ownership instantly shifts to the audience who should find their personal portal inside it and make their own interpretations of what they see.
Pannullo s planning to bring the show to Spain and wishes to stage it in other Arab countries like the UAE. He hopes that young Egyptian audiences would attend his performance.
I hope younger audiences would see further beyond those dances, he says. Because if they succeed in doing so, they would realize that this is no mere dancing; this is a part of their own lives put together on stage.
Catch B2D: Break to Dervish Madrid-Cairo Project at the Small Hall of the Cairo Opera House Oct. 27, 8 pm.