Contemporary Scene Center / The House of Dance, Bassano del Grappa

Roberto Casarotto

On the banks of the river Brenta, along the mountain valley that joins the Padano-Veneto plain to Trentino, near the ancient routes that joined Northern Europe and Venice, in the lands crossed by the Cimbri, the Ezzelini, men and women of the Serenissima, migrants fleeing from areas of conflict or looking for opportunities and support. In this land of rich vegetation, with a few places marred by thoughtless concrete, lies Bassano del Grappa, a small town, today a point of reference for European contemporary dance.
In the heart of Bassano, a ‘casa della danza’ has been active since 2006, a Centre for the contemporary scene, a “place” made of various spaces where artists and citizens can practise, research, create and share dance.
Dance, the art that more than any other connects people with their own bodies and with humanity is explored through residence programs, projects supported by the European union, initiatives shared with schools, local firms and commercial enterprises, activities for people with Parkinson, oncological associations, visually impaired and blind people, collaborations with Italian and European networks, dialogues and co-operations with Institutions and bodies active in Asia, Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, South Africa.
Dance events take place in museums, botanical gardens and parks, deconsecrated churches, an ex- distillery, urban sites, theatres, historical buildings and, since March 2020, digital space, entering the houses of physically isolated people who wish to be connected artistically and socially.
Dance creates inclusive communities that participate in several different initiatives, inquisitive to discover new and experimental approaches to choreographic research. Communities generous in providing a language for ideas and critical responses, articulating with respect and according to a constructive feedback approach that welcomes and gives support. They also have the courage to take risks, actively participating in the creative process and in performances open to the public.
Dance is a human right, therefore artists and citizens help to create times and spaces where people can express themselves, develop different and alternative definitions of beauty and excellence, practise exchanges of viewpoints broadening their horizons through non-European approaches, listening to what people say and contemplating the moving bodies of artists arrivng in Bassano del Grappa from every continent.
Thanks to dance, Selamawit and Lamin, two young people who crossed the Mediterranean in a boat, have now become the first two black dance teachers who have regular relationships with the new generation of citizens living in the ever more multicultural region of Veneto, but still without role models not white and almost always Italian. These artists share their choreographic practices, the echoes of tradition passed down the generations through songs and dance, traces of ancient rites that fascinate neurologists who study Dance Well and the impact dance has on the life of those who live with Parkinson disease. Their interest is due to the fact that these teachers guide the class participants in physical and empathic states, where their bodies move together, wildly releasing a contagious and overwhelming energy in unconceivable performances according to scientific protocols.
At the base of these relationships are the shared values and a long-term project. It is a kind of implicit pact covering all initiatives and collaboration; it is built over time together with artists, operators, experts, researchers and inhabitants of the territory covered. This becomes a reality in the activities of research, production, presentation, co-imagination and participation. These activate procedures in the culture of developing dance that are often pioneering and anticipate change, giving life to innovation and empowerment to both the individual and the group.
In Bassano, dance quietly evokes and reveals life, connects and brings people of different generations and backgrounds together, explores creativity and the right of all human beings to express themselves.
International collaborations have accelerated the process of the development of contemporary dance and made it necessary to elaborate and activate strategies to connect local and national contexts to a cross-national dimension. Sometimes we had to elaborate several ways of narrating the same artistic practices or approaches still unknown in Italy, to make them accessible, comprehensible and shareable. At the same time, we thought that experiences developed at local and national level could then successfully inform and enrich international processes. We have learnt to take into account the special features of the contexts involved, of the different times and rhythms and of the cultural uniqueness of each reality.

Roberto Casarotto is a dance activist: he studied at the London Contemporary Dance School and Economics at Cà Foscari University in Venice. He is responsible for the dance programs for the CSC and Operaestate Festival in Bassano del Grappa. Associate Director of Aerowaves, and board of the European Dancehouse Network, he is a member of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO.

Contemporary Scene Center / The House of Dance, a dance house, and Operaestate Festival Veneto, a multidisciplinary summer festival, are part of the Comune of Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza). It’s been involved in International projects exploring the research and production of performances, community projects, presentation of dance at museums and art galleries, investigating the theme of migration, the theme of ageing and the development of cultural leaderships and new skills and strategies for the communication of dance. CSC is committed to transforming and enriching lives through dance.


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