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Art Heritage Exchange

ART HERITAGE EXCHANGE PROJECT

Art heritage exchange project – week 1

On Wednesday 2 December 2020, at 3 pm CET time, 62 dancers from 5 continents, 16 countries logged onto a Zoom meeting. One second before, they were scattered all around the globe; one second later, they were side by side on a screen and became, somehow, connected. I am lucky to have been one of the dancers who is taking part in the Art Heritage Exchange, an online project created by DanceHaus Susanna Beltrami and EurAsia Dance Project International Network, with the goal of investigating the meaning of the word “classic” from a multicultural perspective. We were all welcomed by Stefano Fardelli’s voice, who joyfully called out every name as they started popping up. In my quiet and calm living room, something inside me started fizzing. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning and every time a foreign country was mentioned, my eyes got shinier and shinier, filled with curiosity and amazement. Once we were all logged in, our Dancehaus director Susanna Beltrami and the other two managers of the project, Stefano Fardelli and Lorenzo Conti, took charge of the meeting. They introduced the project, its development and its goals. When they finished explaining, it was time for the presentations. One by one, we were all asked to say our name, age and to describe our country in three words. Hearing the dancers’ voices, seeing their faces was a moment forever engraved in my body, on my skin.

It was then that I fully realized how momentous and ambitious this project is. 2020 was a hard year for so many reasons, and for everyone. The dance community and the performing arts were specifically impacted by this global crisis. During the past nine months, most dancers have felt lost, disconnected, afraid; which is why this project feels so valuable and ambitious. In the time we are feeling most disconnected from our art form, this project wants to bring us together and help us connect, using the only available instrument: the internet.

I hardly know anything about the rest of the world. Thanks to this project I had the opportunity to talk, connect and dance with people from India, Mexico, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Australia. For some of them the call took place in the early hours of the morning, for others it was past midnight. For me it started off as a regular afternoon, but by the end of the meeting I knew better. I felt excited, emotional, giddy. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was born in Milan, I have lived in Milan my whole life. I’m Italian, my family is Italian, I went to Italian schools, which means my education, although varied and complex, is very eurocentric. I have never even visited a place with a different time zone, but I am now collaborating with people all over the world.

And as I looked through all the squares and tried to familiarise with all these new faces, I realised how different we all were. Because of our nationality, our age, our walks of life. But then why did I feel so close to them? As the call continued, I also started to realize how similar we all are. These people have chosen to spend the next six months working on this project, as I have. These people are dancers, as I am.

In a time where travelling is difficult, we get to travel; and in the best way, because we’re not getting to know about a country from a guidebook, but from a fellow human being – which is truly special.

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