The Danza Movimento Naturale (DMN) method was created in 2005 by Giovanni Zappulla, choreographer, dancer and artistic director of the choreographic centre L'espace. His long stay in France - at the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Boulogne Billancourt and at the Ridc (Rencontres Internationales de danse contemporaine) - gave Zappulla a strong pedagogical imprint that pushed him to deepen the techniques and the path already taken by the dancer Isadora Duncan (1877-1827).
In the footsteps of Isadora Duncan: the rebel genius and her 'inner movement'
A rebellious genius, Isadora was an indispensable part of dance history precisely because she did not have a pre-established academic education and had the courage to explore. The Natural Movement Dance thus takes its starting point from an in-depth study of the techniques of the American dancer, the first to speak of internal movement. "We could define it as a movement that finally resolves the dichotomy between spirit and body. A dichotomy,' Zappulla points out, 'that has been imposed as a superstructure but that the Greeks did not know: in theatre they were musicians, actors, dancers together. In the same way, internal movement starts from the soul, radiates to the bones and deep muscles, to the mind and body: it is a force that we have not been used to using for centuries'.
The connection with oriental disciplines
The DMN method - born out of the collaboration between the choreographer and the dancer Annachiara Trigili - developed through the substantial union of contemporary dance with music and the encounter with Taijiquan Chen and Qigong, disciplines in which we find the concept of internal movement, consistent with human nature in its biomechanical, energetic and psychic aspects. 'It should come as no surprise that Western thought and techniques meet with Eastern ones, just as the mind and body dialogue again through the Natural Dance Movement method,' observes Zappulla, 'because the human body is conceived as an orchestral instrument. It has the same harmony that we find in the images of the dancing Greek figures, the same harmony that Isadora sought in museums, and then brought back to the theatre: the natural place of this harmony'.
Questions to (re)start from
What contemporary dance has been doing again for just over a century is to give the body the opportunity to construct its natural history, to express its essential movement according to its true balance. In the DMN method, the body learns to listen to these laws.
"We have to start," says Giovanni Zappulla, "with some questions: do we let our body express its own rhythm? How can we follow its natural mechanisms to really move, regardless of the effect to be produced, the result to be achieved? How can we move slowly or quickly, without being forced into artificial functioning? If technological progress has helped shrink the space-time in which we bulimically acquire information, what about individual space-time?"
Sicily, abroad, the past and the future
A method, DMN, that has already been exported across borders, from France to Mexico, through workshops and performances in which the dancer's body is no longer considered as an object to be subjected to often irreversible wear and tear as a tribute to the aesthetics of movement, but as a centre of strength, growth, well-being. The dancer thus becomes strong through dance itself. And dance becomes natural again, incredibly rich; bodies can go far beyond questions of techniques and styles, movement has its own truth.
'At the same time' the choreographer continues, 'the research that I carry out could only be born in Sicily. The company that I direct could only be conceived in a land with an immense heritage of culture, in the round, and that possesses the strengths and capabilities to find a meeting point. A contemporaneity in evolutionary continuity with a past in which mind and body were united in a single harmony. Our task is to find it again. Only then will the dancer realise that he already has music inside him, written only for him: and all he can do is listen to it and share it'.