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Somiglianza

performed by Mattia Russo and Antonio de Rosa - Kor’sia

The afternoon of a faun is a myth, and myths are made to be reinvented. With perfect neoclassical technique and a taste for iconoclasm, Mattia Russo and Antonio de Rosa write on Debussy’s illustrative music their inspired and funny version of the story. Awaking alone in the light, a faun in pure white finds four nymphs to play with (including a man!) in green lamé bathing suits. Their moves, innocent and sexual, seriously performed and ironically dated, are as hierarchic as Nijinsky wrote them a century ago and as self-conscious as an instagram pose.

The apparently impassive faun leads short duets before returning to the light, draped in white lace as if untainted. With small means that have big effects, the five dancers drive you to unexpected ecstasy, respectful yet daring, definitely making an impression.


Serge Lifar-cum-Nijinsky camp melds with the muscle of a female acrobatics team. The faun quick-changes into a sacrificial bride and the circling, Esther Williamsesque chorus girls mimic corps-de-ballet poses on dry land

Spanish collective Kor’sia’s piece Somiglianza, or Similar, claims to ponder the declining pertinence of our contemporary iconography, and especially that of dance.

In effect, the sleek, green-satin clad nymphs come across as identikit, contortionist Barbies, and the beleaguered bride slinks off in a floor length negligee befitting of the most dramatic of drag queen exits. ‘Old is the new now’ or ‘vintage is in Vogue’ the work seems to be telling us ironically.

It’s a blast and brilliantly danced, but the use of Debussy’s haunting score hones us in on the piece’s comparative vacuity to an extent that, I suspect, the artists hadn’t quite bargained for.


Somiglianza, by Mattia Russo and Antonio de Rosa, is a playful re-imagining of L’apres-midi d’un faune that owes as much to Esther Williams as it does to Nijinsky.

This is a delicate reinterpretation: the faun wears a lacy gown and the nymphs are synchronised swimmers in shimmering green bathing suits. Likewise, the opulent staging of the original is now something more minimal – a brilliant white stage and a haze effect create the sense of an ethereal plane.

For all its wit and grace, its crisp kicks and flicks and flourishes, Somiglianza feels insubstantial. The faun’s journey into the nymphs’ world still sparkles, but a sense of progress is absent. The gender roles are unchanged, save one male nymph in a needlessly masculine-coded swimsuit, and even the Debussy score is only updated with the addition of… more Debussy. It’s charming, but can such a slight subversion be considered a subversion at all?


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Spring Forward
5-7 April 2019
Val de Marne, France

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