Act III: The Stage
Francesco Vezzoli brings the ballet to Performa.
Francesco Vezzoli knows a thing or two about spectacle. He invited the supermodel Veruschka to sit and embroider her own portrait for three days at the 2001 Venice Biennale, cast Courtney Love in his 2005 trailer for a mock remake of Gore Vidal’s polysexual classic Caligula, and paired Lady Gaga with Bolshoi Ballet dancers in his Prada-costumed 2009 Ballets Russes fantasia for the 30th-anniversary gala of the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles. For Performa, Vezzoli has teamed with David Hallberg (above, from right), one of the world’s great ballet dancers and the first American to be a full member of American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet simultaneously. Together, they are taking dance back to its origins in the 15th-century royal courts of the Italian Renaissance, exploring the manners, mores, and sumptuous settings of the time. (Expect the stage at St. Bartholomew’s Church, in Manhattan, to be garlanded in fruits, flowers, and ivy reminiscent of paintings by Mantegna.) Hallberg, who has spent the past year learning the stripped-down gestures of the era, will be accompanied by non-ballet-trained dancers. While Vezzoli will remain in the wings, he sees himself “very ambitiously as the Diaghilev” (the founder of the Ballets Russes), orchestrating the extravaganza. Here, at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, they go through the motions of a fragment of their period pas de deux. “It’s Renaissance minimalism,” Vezzoli says—though with plenty of maximalist panache.