by Greta Melli

A return to the origins, spirituality, and primordial elements. AURA is dance, because it’s pure movement. But also a ritual, staged at the theater. Theatre is the only thing today that is truly magical, where the audience experiences sensations thanks to something that can be felt live. And any piece of theatre or dance is already a catharsis itself.

Moreno Perna is a dancer, choreographer and performer based in Amsterdam. He studied Humanities at the State University of Milan, before accomplishing a second degree at the Amsterdam University of Arts. After that, he studied with Jan Fabre, while today he collaborates with ICK Amsterdam and Dansmakers Amsterdam companies. This year, he created a new project, AURA: A Shamanistic Techno Ritual of Dance, which will be staged for the first time on Thursday, the 5th of September.

“I’ve been working on this performance for a year: it’s a research of movement that starts from a work of introspection on a very personal level. The connection between energy work and dance is what the show is based on. When I had the courage to move here and study dance, it was like starting from the bottom, because dance, much more than theatre in my opinion, is a form of art where the body/mind system changes completely. You learn again to connect with yourself, with others, with the world, through your senses and movement. That’s why I find it a shamanistic process, which includes magic and spirituality.

This for me is the most beautiful part of dance, the way you can connect with the audience on an energetic level. You don’t just come to the theatre to see a monologue with a message, but you go to see dance to connect emotionally.”

For Moreno, the relationship with the audience is fundamental; without its viewers, the performance would totally lose its meaning: “These days I’m working with Evgenia Rubanova, my dancer, and we could see that working alone is not the same as doing that with the audience.”

In the show, the public can choose their place. It’s not just a matter of comfort, it’s a symbolic choice, aimed at making them feel at ease: “I want viewers to have their own space in the theatre, and to choose where to sit based on what they feel at the moment. It’s their decision, completely intuitive. Based on this, they will have a different experience. We dance in a circle; around it there’s a first row where you can sit and stay very close to us. Alternatively, you can sit elsewhere, or stand and dance. It’s our audience decision. We dance on the floor, all together, without a stage.”

Connecting with the audience through improvisation, they go beyond a simple show to watch passively: “We work a lot on the energy level, so we listen to the energy of the audience. We are sensitive and influenced by it as we move, and we perceive a different aura depending on the person (hence the title AURA). There are people with whom we are better off and others who are not, they all have this sixth sense.

We use a technique, The Auratic Practice, and we’re still working on it. From this practice of listening and connecting with the others, we create a new energy all together, in total communion. Obviously we respect a basic choreography. But I prefer to work with body language rather than fixed steps”.

Theatre and pure movement are the key terms of Moreno’s debut performance. This new production comes mainly from an introspective work: “I wondered why I dance, why I am a dancer and choreographer. I’ve always had a lot of energy that I have to throw out, and if I don’t, I become depressed and also nervous. It’s liberating and increases my level of well-being. And it is also very poetic because dance doesn’t have a fixed and verbal language: my audience is not just listening, but they can relax and share feelings. They must have time to familiarize with us, step by step; we don’t want to be aggressive at all, in fact ours is a gradual approach”.

And gradual was also the confidence that Moreno has learned to have with his viewers over the years. It is not easy to control, on an emotional level, the energies of those in front of you, especially because they are difficult to predict. Also, the peculiarity of AURA and this openness to the others is the result of years of experience: “I have been practicing Kundalini for 7 years now, a practice of meditation that influenced the research on The Auratic Practice during my first residence. From there I started to practice. At that time I had more distance with the public. There’s always a chance that you’ll find someone who doesn’t have a good energy in front of you, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle everyone’s energy. Even just dancing on stage means exposing yourself, and you have to know how to do it. Now I’m completely comfortable. The relationship with the audience is actually a real relationship, but there must be balance, or else it is exploitation or abuse”.

We are not, however, dealing with a simple theatrical play, nor a ritual, but with dance, in the most genuine sense of the word. A dance made of pure movement, free of tinsels or masks, which relies on anything but body language and the primordial rhythm of techno. This is how Moreno allows you to identify with a cathartic experience, always in a protected space.

And not just that: “The spirituality of the individual comes up, each one of us has his own, which is connected to religion or created by combining several elements, like a puzzle. And, after all, why not?”

The choice of the musical genre is completely unexpected for a dance show: the techno that accompanies AURA is composed ex novo by an Italian artist living in Amsterdam, Alessio Ciborio, which is part of the music label Immaterial Archives. However, it is perfect for a performance that wants to reconnect to the most primordial and genuine sensations: “After all, techno is just the simple evolution of drums, almost a ritual. You feel the music vibrate inside your body, and it’s the music that makes you move your body.”

Photocredits: Alwin Poiana