Last Friday, December 16th, the artist, choreographer, and dancer Grazia Capri performed her work Corpi in Vertigine #2 (Bodies in Vertigo #2) before an audience at Fordham University’s Lipani Gallery located at Lincoln Center. The work is an exhibit of raw emotion and energy by an engaging performer.
The compelling, non-narrative, 34-minute piece is, according to the performance notes, a modern study on the struggle of “having to choose between who we really are and who we choose to show to the world…. Our nature is stifled, hidden in our deepest depths, causing an existential vertigo.” Before Capri took the stage, provocative artworks by Francis Bacon, Frida Kahlo, and others, were projected onto a screen followed by text excerpted from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Saint Augustine’s Confessions, Umberto Saba’s Ulysses, and Eugenio Montale’s Perhaps One Morning. These striking, sometimes unnerving, references inspired and informed Capri when producing her work, as she explained in the Q&A that followed the performance.
Originally from Italy, the artist now based in Brooklyn has been dancing since the age of five. She began choreographing solo pieces in 2008, showcasing her work throughout Europe. With Corpi in Vertigine #2 Capri exposes emotional vulnerability on a small stage with minimal props just steps from her audience—reaching, stretching, twisting, folding, and pushing herself to dizzying limits. Her movements were accompanied by the sounds of a moody cello mixed with the urban din of street and subway traffic.
Corpi in Vertigine #2 begins with Capri standing still, head down, her hair obscuring her face, while a heavy heartbeat pounds over a soundtrack of city noises. Her hands slowly creep up her thighs, menacingly pinching at her skirt. The tension rises until the artist collapses and stoically rebounds, pulling or whipping her hair back and forth in a frenzy, and tugging at her clothing and removing them in a sort of shedding-of-the-skin to reveal another layer of herself. Her expressive eyes accentuate her bold, evocative movements revealing a sense of anxiety, struggle, and a “journey in search of the self, a forgotten identity.” After she removes her top and skirt, revealing a black bikini, the audience travels with her to the ocean. Sounds of crashing waves wash over her as she vigorously spins her arms as if swimming, or threatens to dive off the platform she stands on into a mysterious sea. The final segment finds her dressed again in a return to the internal unease she battles with intensity and determination.
Among the selected passages projected onto a screen at the start of the piece, Saint Augustine’s Confessions seems to best describe the overall performance—“and I carried with me my soul mutilated and bleeding which could no longer now put up with being dragged about. I continued to roll in the mud of an abyss and in the darkness of false thinking, often I tried to stand up only to fall down again even harder.” Capri personified this frustration and anguish through movement—kicking and spinning unsettlingly on the floor, repeatedly dropping and rising, continually reining in and losing control of her demons in this physical and emotional powerhouse of a performance.
Capri’s movements suggest both hope and resignation in the final moments of the piece. As explained during the Q&A, she prefers that the audience interpret Corpi in Vertigine #2 based on their own experience of her highly charged and personal performance. However you choose to read this complex, poetic work, there is no denying Capri is a bold, expressive, and unique performer. Learn more at www.graziacapri.org.
Photos by Nathan Haselby