On the occasion of Canto Primo: Miasma-Arsura, which debuted in streaming during the pandemic for the opening of the Transmissions festival, we offer you the interview with Stefania Pedretti and Bruno Dorella (OvO) and Marco Valerio Amico (gruppo nanou), at curated by Alessandro Fogli.

gruppo nanou + OvO | Canto Primo: Miasma + Arsura
Canto primo - Still video Claudio Stanghellini, performers: Rhuena Bracci, Bruno Dorella, Stefania Alos Pedretti

The company gruppo nanou (Rhuena Bracci and Marco Valerio Amico) and the band OvO (Bruno Dorella and Stefania Pedretti) they rewrite their last two projects, the album Miasma and the choreographic work in progress Arsura, to unleash a personal imagination that makes use of the strength of the radical languages of the two artistic realities. Canto Primo of a collaboration that manifests itself here between sounds and infernal, dreamlike and disruptive images.

What is the genesis of gruppo nanou-OvO collaboration?

Bruno Dorella: «I had already worked with nanou in the performance We want Miles, in a silent way and then in the new Paradiso, but this collaboration was born between the two shows that we had been fantasizing about for years, the good "excuse" was the development of Rhuena's solo, Arsura. The freedom that you can have with one of her solos is really powerful, at one point we tried it with Miasma, the latest OvO album, and it worked very well, also because she has a very personal way of working. The aesthetic-poetic affinity with nanou was impressive».
Marco Valerio Amico: «The meeting, from a certain point of view, was casual, because we weren't sure that in the end everything coincided so completely, on the other hand the operation, which had already begun with Bruno's presence in Miles – and having followed Bruno and Stefania's work for some time – thanks to the lockdown, therefore not being able to move and having time available to try out ideas, he found the right moment to tell us "let's try to do this together ”, also stimulated by the collaboration with Ravenna Teatro, di Bronson Productions with the Transmissions Waves festival which hosted the work in the streaming version last year and with the support of E production».
Stefania Pedretti: «Marco Valerio's challenge, what intrigued him, was that we didn't compose something specifically for Arsura but that we used our already made record, that is the music that we would perform in one of our concerts. The winning intuition was understanding that music, as it was, could dialogue perfectly and naturally with dance. Practically they are almost two shows that fit together, that complement each other, two superimposed photographs».

It really feels like a destined meeting.

MVA: «The movement to involve the OvO – in addition to the esteem, friendship and desire to collaborate that was already in the air – it was the quality of Rhuena's work, in search of that roughness that their sound could offer her, and on which she immediately found a lot of d 'agreement. That density of sound, the mixing of artistic languages, was, for me, a return to a vision of the nineties in which concerts were performative, not just musical, with a clearly different consciousness today. The impactful sound of OvO, which is almost the opposite of Arsura's theme – the arid, the void – is perfect because it reaches a void through a fullness: an absolutely dense situation that turns into its opposite. The song Miasma, which gives the title to their album, is the song that, in my opinion, is the exact meeting point between OvO and Nanou».
BD: «Rhuena in particular had a pivotal role in the choices, because she was the one who would then move on stage, and it all started precisely from the fact that once she rehearsed on the piece Miasma and both she and Marco Valerio realized that it worked very well. That's where the idea came from."

What is the fundamental aspect that has allowed such an effective union between music and choreography?

MVA: «In OvO's music there is a space, there is a composition in their sound that we enter very willingly; in the disruptive impact they have there is a gap. A skilful and refined composition, and it is precisely there that the body of the choreography is inserted, not to compete or even to lean on it, but to go into dialogue with that compositional space that they leave in the work. This collaboration was the funniest thing in the world. And then yes, I get along particularly well with Bruno and Stefania for the precision and accuracy they put into things. We managed to find a balance (never a compromise), in the sense that they questioned the tracklist of the record, they questioned even the passages between one song and another, given our request for a compact sound more like a soundtrack than a concert (with stops, applause…). And finding that balance whereby, even from a visual point of view, both the body emerges and disappears to bring out the sound and the musical performance».
SP: “We actually changed the live set following the show, which gave us some ideas to change the lineup. We realized that the order of the pieces used for Canto Primo also made the concert more fluid, moving it away from the dynamics of our typical live, in which we tend to start very strongly».
BD: «Marco Valerio then started from a point of view of connection between the pieces, because from the point of view of nanou the musical aspect must be a single flow, from beginning to end, while we, as a rock band playing on stage, had always had the need for there to be peaks and bass, for a piece to finish, even bang. It's the live dynamic. Having set the work as a soundtrack has given us new visions of the live dimension».

gruppo nanou + OvO | Canto Primo: Miasma + Arsura. still video Claudio Stanghellini - Rhuena Bracci, Stefania Pedretti

gruppo nanou + OvO | Canto Primo: Miasma + Arsura. still video Claudio Stanghellini - Rhuena Bracci, Stefania Pedretti

Will the version finally in the presence of Canto Primo al Rasi be very different from the one in streaming?

SP: «I think experiencing Canto Primo live will be very different for the viewer, because the images of the streaming version almost always focus on one or the other of the three figures who are on stage, when instead all three are doing something at the same time. Furthermore, the editing of the images had to calibrate the slowness of the dance with the rock music. Then many parts in which Rhuena dances in the apse of the Rasi are necessarily not rendered at their best in the video images, one does not perceive the depth of that incredible place, also because Rhuena will appear live in the apse as a ghost, a essence, a very difficult aspect to convey on video. Then the lights: although we have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the light effects, the camera just cannot capture certain types of nuances and intensities fully, while live we will see exactly what has been created in terms of color, both for the musical part and for the choreographic one, considering among other things that the question of lights and colors is one of those on which Marco Valerio is working with the most attention».
MVA: «What is certainly assured live is that vibrations, both sound and body - or in any case perceptive also of light and images - really reach everywhere, something that a monitor clearly cannot offer. However, streaming has allowed us to reflect on what today can be a digital product, or in any case online, and therefore try to understand what it means, linguistically, to compete with that object, knowing that music has already cleared customs in tv, as far as I know at least since the 80s. Now we can make other arguments, and we will certainly make them ».
BD: «Live viewing changes the enjoyment of the show a lot compared to video. From a choreographic point of view, nanou work a great deal on absence, so the moments in which Rhuena is not there or cannot be seen or in dim light or only a small piece is seen because she is lying on the ground, have the same poetic value as those in which she makes her incredible stunts, so obviously having an overview the whole time totally gives another flavor to the show. And also from the point of view of the sound impact it will be a completely different thing, because although we have done the job as well as possible for streaming, it will never be the same when you find yourself there under the speakers. Especially for a band like OvO, for which power plays an important role, being there, for the audience, will be very different. I can imagine that Rhuena's action will also change with respect to these parameters, because in any case he is a solo, there is a written part and an improvised part, I don't struggle to imagine that the live condition will also change the writing of his movements. Then live, where compared to streaming we do a couple of pieces alone at the beginning, before Rhuena enters, the idea of the mix between concert and dance will be well perceived ».

Let's go back to the chromatic question for a moment.

MVA: «The colors we use in video reproduction are always distorted due to their almost digital irreproducibility, so in real life you will have a much more vibrant colour. The Rasi space is the place where the work was born, so on May 19 and 20 it will be "at home", and it is a perfect space, so much so that with Alessandro Argnani (director of Ravenna Teatro), laughing, we said that we should take the apse on tour».

Marco Valerio, nanou band had you ever faced before with sounds similar to those of OvO?

«Just with noise-metal we hadn't had any experiences, something with pieces by Trent Reznor but I don't think they can be compared to OvO. What the meeting really was, beyond the sound texture they offer, is the compositional ability, on which Rhuena measured herself well, she found herself at ease. We don't believe much in genres, in labels, if something is done well it can be done in any way, so there has never been a taboo for us towards one sound over another, and for this project, which however, the sound of the OvO was certainly the most suitable. The lockdown allowed us to look around and seize the opportunity behind the house».

OvO have always been a band with a strong physical impact on stage, probably this too is an important element for the live dimension of Canto Primo.

BD: «The presences of Stefania and mine on stage are quite strong, they are not neutral, and in fact Rhuena practically finds herself dealing with a much more complex stage than it seems. There is a very simple but intense backdrop, the lights are an integral part of the narration, and you still have our two presences which are rather precise and strong elements. We're not just playing."

The title Canto Primo hints at other collaborations between OvO and nanou?

MVA: "After the first one, something else will have to be done! We have already talked about it with Bruno and Stefania and there is a desire to continue, also dissociating ourselves from the infernal theme or from Dante's songs, that is not the point. There is certainly an understanding. With Bruno we are collaborating on our Paradiso. Surely there is a direction that unites us and that brings us together on several fronts and on several projects. Let's say that we hope to go on to continue investigating this hybrid between performance-dance, musical performance and choreographic performance. It is a territory that is giving us great satisfaction».

16/05/2022 - Alessandro Fogli, Ravenna Teatro