Over 70,000 people attended the Sibiu International Theatre Festival daily, known also as FITS. Curious eyes, mesmerized tourists and amazed kids were simply enjoying the outdoor shows, while the luckiest ones had tickets booked in advanced to one of the performances: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Beijing People’s Art Theatre, Pippo Delbono, Andalusian Flamenco Ballet, Silviu Purcarete, Yamamoto Noh Theatre, Robert Wilson, Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company, Batcheva, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Vertigo Dance Company, Gigi Caciuleanu Dance Company, just to name a few.

“The 24th edition of FITS proposes a global meeting of artists and audience, under the sign of love. We set up a competition with ourselves, i.e. that the Festival would grow both qualitatively and quantitatively from one year to the other. We are presenting 503 events from 72 countries in 71 venues, with an estimated average number of 68,000 spectators per day. Besides the sections created over time, (…) this year we are adding organ concerts in Transylvanian churches and a section of performances for the NATO soldiers in Romania,” sums up Constantin Chiriac, the festival’s president.

 

Highlights of the festival

Brodsky/Baryshnikov. This performance is a one-man show based on the poems of Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky, staged   by the well-known ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. Conceived and directed by Alvis Hermanis, noted Latvian director of The New Riga Theatre, “Brodsky/Baryshnikov” is an emotional journey deep into the poet’s visceral and complex compositions. Performed in Russian, Brodsky’s mother tongue, Baryshnikov recites a selection of his long-time friend’s poignant and eloquent works. His subtle physicality transports the audience into Hermanis’ reverent imagining of Brodsky’s interior world.

Horses in the Sky. For everyone in the world, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company should mean perfection. These artists use their whole body to dance, from the bottom of their feet, to the top of their head. The name of this performance comes from a song by Canadian band Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra. It also evokes thoughts of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the end of days, presenting fear, but also tenderness. What’s more, although the performance has amazing key moments for individuals and couples, the story remains for the entire ensemble. And there are also the fluttering hands, a symbol of artistic director Remi Be’er creation.

Vangelo. Pippo Delbono returns to FITS with Vangelo, another theatrical experiment. Vangelo is a choral work, which began as a contemporary opera. It first took shape in Zagreb, performed by the orchestra, choir, dancers and actors at the Croatian National Theatre, together with the acting company that has been working with Pippo Delbono for many years. “Vangelo” takes its cue from the atmosphere of Enzo Avitabile’s music, explains the official booklet of the festival. It is rich in poetic overtones, but also markedly reveals the memories of its Croatian performers who lived through the traumatic events of a cruel war that has reshaped the history, places and boundaries of their native land. Absolutely amazing performance.

Humans. FITS has also a contemporary circus section, where companies from all over the world mesmerize the audience with outstanding performances. Australian Circa Ensemble’s Humans represents a stirring journey of what it means to be human, exploring the physical limits of their bodies as they are pushed to the extreme. The ten artist team of Circa Ensemble basically connects each moment with the next one, in a heart-stopping performance: these people aren’t humans. Their bodies seem to be as light as a feather while creating a human body tower of about two, three and at one point even four layers, not to mention how they revitalize acrobatics, hand-to-hand partnering, pyramid building, Banquine and Risley.

Lecture on nothing. As a homage to revolutionary composer John Cage, Robert Wilson performs Cage’s “Lecture on Nothing”, one of the central texts of twentieth-century experimental literature. The production has been described as being an “acoustically and visually inspiring approach to the philosophical and poetic text” which Cage based on a complex time length scheme similar to some of his music. “Cage’s text is charming, often amusing, often quotable, equally often intentionally infuriating and profoundly thought provoking. Yet his theatre is non-narrative, only understood by experiencing it, living it”, as described by the festival’s officials.

Naharin’s Virus. Ohad Naharin doesn’t need any description, yet, we would like to point out his outstanding choreography which continuously impresses the public. Naharin’s restaging of his 2001 celebrated creation makes use of Peter Handke’s play, “Offending the Audience”. For Naharin, the play rejects all that is conventional in theatre, and takes a saw to the branch it sits on. Within this process, a kind of void is created-a very interesting space for exploring movement.

Vertigo 20. This is a festive production, which weaves together twenty years of the Vertigo Dance Company’s creations from its inception. Choreographer Noa Wertheim follows the trail of pebbles she laid, as if re-deciphering the secret of time. As stitches between the private and the public are unraveled, she moves from real to surreal, from intimate to theatrical, from impalpable to tangible. The Vertigo 20 unique body language offers a spectacular staging of rituals.