Red Riding Hood – Once upon a time, the Wolf and the Maiden by Ludovica Avetrani

Walking through the thick wood on a path twisting among the fronds, and being heading for getting lost. Being alone before the darkness of that thick vegetation, maybe defenceless, and equipped with a double edged weapon: curiosity. Quivering with suspense and having the sensation of being chased by something lying in the shadow, ravenously following any odour left as a track. Being mired in imminent danger.

The Quarticciolo Library Theatre opens its 2016/17 dance season with the Atacama Company of Patrizia Cavola and Ivan Truol, who present their new work to this theatre affiliated to Teatri in Comune (Municipality Theatres). The new and fresh production is titled RED RIDING HOOD – Once upon a time, the Wolf and the Maiden. Three dancers are on the stage – Stefania Di Donato, Valeria Loprieno and Cristina Meloro – who feel the scene with their dancing game, presence and poetry of gestures, captivating a varied audience.

Today, the story is part of folklore and oral tradition. Even though it was transcribed by various authors, Cavola and Truol are particularly referring to Charles Perrault’s version, but the intriguing feature of the choreographic dramaturgy of this version is the particular attention paid to the experience of the character of Red Riding Hood, from the moment when she steps into the forest abandoning the safe and lit path, with the charm of the dark and misterious place beckoning her. At that moment there is a change, a metamorphosis resounding like the echo of a broken object that will never be fixed. The three dancers continuously change their roles, keeping, within the character, the three characters’ faces. If, on the one hand, before trespassing on the dangerous border, we see them forced into a stereotypical and stylised dance, telling us the physical and emotive peculiarities of each subject that they interpret, on the other hand we find out that the moment of perdition makes them burst out into a dance celebrating freedom and beauty. Among thick trees, knotty roots, moss and scented wild flowers, Little Red Riding Hood abandons infancy in the darkness and finds femininity. There she can undergo a transformation and, obviously, be surprised by the wolf. The wolf itself, undeniably, makes the transformation possible. He is strong and instinctive, he is the maiden’s alter ego and her guide through tough and arduous passages that the child repeats in awe, driven by irrepressible curiosity.

The show enchants, narrates and amuses: the interpreters are convincing and riveting, as they also orally tell the phases of the story – the idea of inserting text blends the qualities of the interpretation and is also present in other Atacama productions. The direction has a poetic touch and the choreographers are noticeably interested in searching for authenticity and cohesion, skilfully drawing inspiration from various contemporary dance styles. The lights designed by Danila Blasi are able to draw imagination into the wood, to partition the environment into safe isles and damned isles. A gobo projects shapes of trees onto the backdrop. The music composed by Epsilon Indi is captivating and rich in environmental sounds.

The Red Riding Hood by Atacama Dance Company is certainly part of a research project aiming at connecting the complex expressive language of dance with the wide context of the fairy tales and traditions of our childhood. It has the ability to deeply explore the topic from a new point of view, enabling an audience of different ages to enjoy the performance.It’s a pearl.

Ludovica Avetrani

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