‘Mòra’, in the nomenclature used by Augustine, indicates the slightest rest required to distinguish two sounds. It is thus the origin of rhythm, which has been at the centre of Claudia Castellucci’s interests both in her theatrical production, as part of the Societas Raffaello Sanzio, which she co-founded along with Romeo Castellucci, Chiara Guidi and Paolo Guidi, and in the Schools of rhythmic movement she has created.
It was precisely this scholastic context which led to the birth of the Compagnia Mòra. The term “school” is ancient, and describes a particular way of studying and living, chosen and felt as ‘one’s own’ by those who decide to participate. This meaning must be distinguished from the one generally given to the word today, because its origin and its purpose consist in a knowledge of the world and physical exercise, not education.
After years of schools based on rhythmic movement and theoretical reflection, in 2009 Claudia Castellucci founded Mòra, a dance company located in Cesena, a the Teatro Comandini, where the Societas Raffaello Sanzio is based, of which it is part. The Compagnia Mòra created Homo Turbae, to organ music by Olivier Messiaen and The Second Neanderthal, to music by Scott Gibbons. This experience, however, came to an end with a long period in which Claudia Castellucci retired from public performance and then ‘returned’ to her schools, to develop a dance that considers the entirety of rhythm, with its upbeats and downbeats, thanks to an impulse coming from Olivier Messiaen’s conception of ‘melodic rhythm’. This originated the School Mòra, (2015-2019), which was thus once again reconstituted as a Company, with which she created the dance Towards the species, modelled on the metrics of archaic Greek poetry and the movement of horses; the meta-dance At the beginning of the city of Rome, on the earliest transitions of humanity when dealing with life in a mass society; and the dance The treatment of the waves, based on the ‘spectral’ sound of bells. Lastly, Physics of the harsh communion is a dance constructed to Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux, which, for the 2020 Venice Biennale will include a live piano performance by Matteo Ramon Arevalos.
The most important feature of the Compagnia Mòra lies in the emphasis it gives to the temporal aspect of choreography, leading to an exact replica of the musical patterns. And yet, the strict correspondence between gestures and sound cannot be reduced to a mere synchrony. As is the case with music, dance shapes time through rhythm, especially by studying the part that often remains in the shadows: rests, and the passage from one figure to the next. This interest shifts interpretation towards a gymnastic behaviour, that calls upon the need to make decisions, at each moment, truly and in the present, in a flagrancy which makes artificial actions physically true. The delicate relation between this physical truth and the artistic memory of an interpretation contains the entire simple nature of the choreography pursued by Mòra. With rare exceptions, music is always an internal part of Claudia Castellucci’s choreographic processes, which makes the mutual bond between music and dance so tight that is becomes a fusion, and composer Stefano Bartolini follows the choreography, step after step.
Since 2015, Claudia Castellucci has also transmitted her choreography through “Rhythmic Exercises”, fragments of schools that she proposes across the world.
In 2019, Sete Edizioni published her “Dance Bulletins”, which bring together a few reflections on rhythmic movement and ‘passing-through’ dance.
A brief history of Claudia Castellucci’s choreographic schools
A school is a set of people who come together to study and rehearse. It is a relation that comes about over time. Time and knowledge are shaped by a rhythm ingrained by the school itself. Rhythm is a form of time, and a school is thus a work of art. Some schools last for years, others for a single day: what is necessary is that each of them is a complete fact. Being part of the school is therefore as important as the subjects it treats. This is the reason why each school has its own features, different from the others. A school does not have a method, it is a method.
For the Theatrical school of the descent (1989-1992), Claudia Castellucci invented a gymnastics accompanied by singing; she introduced metrical and melodic study and practice, which merge into rhythmic movement, and she studied classical oratorical gestures and Gregorian chant.
1992-99: Other three-year cycles of schools, based on choreo-gymnastics and philosophy.
2003-2009: She began another school, more specifically dealing with rhythmic movement: the Stoa, marked by regular encounters throughout all seasons. The Stoa composed her Dances, structured around an interpretation of movement to music produced inside the school itself, because it was developed in a close relation to the movement.
2010-2012: Calla, another rhythmic school that produced two performances based on dance and dramatic dialogues.
All of these schools lasted a number of years, with weekly encounters. She then experimented with a month-long school with daily sessions, in Bordeaux, entitled Ecole du Rythme, in September 2011, as part of the Urban Art Biennale.
2015-2019: she created the School Mòra, out of which the Compagnia Mòra was born.