Giulio D’Anna: Parkin’son

Giulio D’Anna: Parkin’son

Giulio D’Anna: Parkin’son

The classic conventions of the father and son relationship are explored in this dance-based performance by Giulio (31) and Stefano (62) D’Anna. Dramatic and emotive piquancy is added due to Stefano being recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Father and son are both therapists, but only Giulio is dance trained. He has created and choreographed this piece to tell their story and to present a manifesto for dance as a method of expression and of healing.

The white dance-floor is covered with round carpets, like bath-mats, all white except one red one – the rogue gene perhaps. A big screen slants above the performance space, glowing with and reflecting light. Further lights at floor level define the stage. There is a strong aesthetic in the style of presentation: whites, greys, flashes of red, matching vests and shorts. There are key songs and subtle music (by Maarten Bokslag) that provide a good balance of aural punctuation and atmosphere, alongside several welcome periods of silence.

Giulio plays up the difference in their body types. He is wiry and athletic, despite a spinal abnormality, and Stefano is more macho, sturdy and a bit wobbly bellied. This illustrates the core of their relationship – the small child and the big, strong father. It is a theme that the choreography makes much of, as the tables turn and son becomes the supporter of and carer for his ageing parent.

The piece starts with verbal exchanges between them, relayed through speakers, in Italian and English. There are commands – ‘Please make it louder’, ‘Stop!’ – and questions – ‘Why is there no dancing in this?’ – but the main form of expression is through the movement. The choreographic language is one of shapes made through the combination of bodies, of holds, rolls, stretches. These are tests of strength, of will and trust. They wrestle and spar then are tender and supportive. They mirror and they improvise.

It is not highly distinctive choreography and there are too many familiar dance tropes. I felt the piece came very much from Giulio working through his own feelings about his father’s disease, and how it would affect his future life, hence his plotting out the years ahead at the end of the show. I would have liked to see more of Stefano’s view of his prognosis and of him as a dancer. His movement ability wasn’t given a sufficient chance to shine.

At the end, the screen descended and childhood photographs of father and son in earlier years were flashed up. Poor screen, to be so poorly used.

Parkin’son, whilst interesting to watch and having moments of tenderness and tension, of humour and challenge, for me became an exercise in expression, rather than a pure and emotional journey through this relationship.

This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , on by .

About Lisa Wolfe

Lisa Wolfe is a freelance theatre producer and project manager of contemporary small-scale work. Companies and people she has supported include: A&E Comedy, Three Score Dance, Pocket Epics, Jennifer Irons,Tim Crouch, Liz Aggiss, Sue MacLaine, Spymonkey and many more. Lisa was Marketing Manager at Brighton Dome and Festival (1989-2001) and has also worked for South East Dance, Chichester Festival Theatre and Company of Angels. She is Marketing Manager for Carousel, learning-disability arts company.