Geographers of Solitude by Paolo Mangiola

Premiere in Malta on 24 May

Geographers of Solitude by Paolo Mangiola
Geographers of Solitude by Paolo Mangiola (ph. Camille Fenech)

LA VALLETTA ŻfinMalta joins forces with Ballet d’Jèrri, the national dance company of Jersey Island, in a new work by ŻfinMalta Artistic Director Paolo Mangiola. Eighteen dancers come together to explore what unites the two islands through distinctive geographical and cultural landscapes.

Taking inspiration from the Arctic Tern, a bird known for having the longest migratory patterns on the planet, Geographers of Solitude is a conversation on diversity, the fragility of different voices, and fostering collective harmony. Just as these birds take shelter on both islands during their long journey, the dancers on stage explore both itinerant and protracted island life and the dynamic interplay between solitude and communal, on our individual and collective narratives. It delves into the notion of islands as a microcosm of the world at large – a contained environment where its inhabitants develop unique cultures and ways of organising societies.

This collaboration took flight with Ballet d’Jèrri’s inaugural Artistic Director Carolyn Rose Ramsey inviting Mangiola to create a work for the new national dance company of Jersey. The conversation led to the idea of a co-production bringing both companies on stage in a new full-length work to be premiered first in Malta on 24 May, followed by Jersey in June 2024.

"The dancers and team at Ballet d’Jèrri are so honoured and grateful to have the chance to collaborate with ŻfinMalta and Paolo Mangiola on his fantastic concept in Geographers of Solitude, says Rose Ramsey. The opportunity to have this kind of in-depth artistic exchange with another group of dancers is rare and exhilarating. This piece, and the collaboration itself, is a testament to the power of art to bridge landscapes, cultures, and stories.  I believe we have the chance to offer a mirror to the world.  As small islands we are not just geographical entities, but vibrant, living microcosms that represent and resonate with the broader experiences of isolation, community, and the incessant quest for connection. It becomes a beautiful testament to the fact that every individual and every group has a unique journey, a unique story to tell. This is a dialogue between two islands, two countries, and two cultures, on what sets us apart, and what ties us together."

For ZfinMalta audiences who have followed Mangiola’s masterful transformation of the company over the past seven years, this is the last chance to see his choreography in a new full-length work on the Teatru Manoel stage before he completes his final season as Artistic Director. Mangiola joined a young ŻfinMalta at the end of its third season and has since led Malta’s national dance company through a period of extraordinary growth, bringing recognition at a local and international level. Contemporary dance now has a place at the forefront of Malta’s performing arts scene, with an ever-expanding and dedicated local audience, and Malta has a national dance company with a strong international presence. Mangiola’s legacy includes a repertoire of some of the most important established and pioneering choreographers working on the international stage, such as Tânia Carvalho, Emanuel Gat, Roy Assaf, Rosemary Lee, Sergiu Matis, Riccardo Buscarini, Francesca Pennini, Marco D’Agostin, Mauro Bigonzetti, Ambra Senatore, and Lesley Telford. He has also assembled a cast of dancers of the highest calibre and leaves a company of ten full time dancers and one apprentice, while overseeing an inclusive and participatory education and outreach programme for people from all backgrounds.

Mangiola reflects, "It has been an incredible journey, and I am immensely proud of the accomplishments we've achieved together. My heartfelt thanks go to all the choreographers, artists, and variety of experts who have contributed immensely to the growth of the company, making ŻfinMalta a hub where we cherish, protect, and push our art form. I’m forever grateful to all the dancers who have worked with me, sharing their knowledge, and contributing to the development of our company."

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