‘A Forest in the City’ lets kids create the world at WAC

‘A Forest in the City’ lets kids create the world at WAC

“We speak many languages, but for me dance is the international language of the body,” says Valentina Consoli. “Especially in Italy, we know that, because we are really moving a lot while speaking, and everybody knows that too.

“I think that dance can reach points that a spoken language cannot,” she adds. “And like [German dancer and choreographer] Pina Bausch said once, I loved to dance because I was scared to speak; when I was moving I could feel.’”

Consoli and Bela Dobiasova, who studied at the Dance Conservatory of Prague, are the only dancers on stage when Compagnia TPO brings “A Forest in the City” to the Walton Arts Center stage May 14-15. The first dancer — the “architect” — draws a city with houses and streets, then the other dancer brings nature to the city with insects, birds, grass and trees.

“The two characters move in an empty scene where projections on two large aligned screens evoke a room of wonder,” the University of Maryland website described the show. “Here, their ideas, imagination and projects are drawn from movement and come to life. Slowly, an imaginary city grows … [and] the children come to color and populate the city.”

Dobiasova says it’s not hard to get the children in the audience involved.

“Children are just more open than adults usually,” she says.

“A smile could help a lot because in the beginning part of the show sometimes children are a bit shy to join us and dance,” adds Consoli. “But when they reach the stage, they often melt and start to explore the space with us and the many possibilities they have with their movements.”

In the end, after the city survives the challenges of growth and industry, “I hope they will get inspired to care more about the environment,” Dobiasova says.

“I hope they will bring home the magic moments of this experience and the joy to create more green spaces inside the city and take more care of the environment we are living in,” agrees Consoli.

Based in Italy, Compagnia TPO — The TPO Company — describes itself as “interactive theater.”

“Thanks to the particular use of digital design, the shows are transformed into ‘sensitive environments’ where the thin border between art and play can be experienced,” the website says. “Dancers, performers and the audience itself share the scene, exploring new forms of expression beyond the barriers of language and culture.”

Since 2002, TPO has created “Farfalle”; “Play Please!,” a scene composed of beams of light and luminescent objects which, thanks to the use of sensors, act as virtual musical instruments for children; “The Jungle in the City”; “Panda’s Home”; “Kindur”; “Butterflies”; “The Painted Garden”; and many more shows that have played in schools, theaters and at festivals worldwide.

“I was studying and teaching dance in Florence when I found the audition of TPO Company in Prato,” says Consoli, who started taking dance when she was 5. “So I went, and it was love at first sight. I’ve worked with TPO Company since 2010, and I’ve done a lot of production and tournée all around the world with the company.

“I started with ballet,” she adds, “but then I fell in love with contemporary dance and urban dances because I felt they left more space for expression. So I’m still studying a lot of different styles. I’m actually inspired by Lindy hop, Charleston and all the dances from the ’20s [and] ’30s.”

“⁠I started visiting dancing classes when I was [also] 5 years old,” says Dobiasova. “I had a great Russian teacher, who cast me soon in children’s characters in ballet pieces. There I fell in love with theater. [Compagnia TPO] were searching for dancers for a new production, I was searching for another place to live and work — I was living in Prague at that time — and I loved how they work. I am with the company for six years.”

“We are two dancers on stage,” Consoli concludes, “but we have two technicians behind the curtains that take care about video projections, music and lights, [so] it’s always a team work.”



‘A Forest in the City’

WHEN — 6:30 p.m. May 14-15

WHERE — Walton Arts Center’s Starr Theater in Fayetteville

COST — $10

INFO — waltonartscenter.org

Categories: Theater