Tristi Tropici

Compagnia Virgilio Sieni
Based on Tristes Tropiques
by Claude Lévi-Strauss

German Premiere
WP 10 June 2010, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, Biennale Danza, Venedig

Tristi Tropici. Compagnia Virgilio Sieni

© Virgilio Sieni

  • 1 h 10 min, without interval

Past Dates

Tristi Tropici by Virgilio Sieni takes its inspiration from the eponymous text by Lévi- Strauss of 1955. The Sad Tropics is essentially a travel diary in which Lévi-Strauss noted his impressions, mingled with a series of brilliant considerations about the world in general. The result is an intellectual autobiography in which appear the experience of the traveller, the research in the field and the comparison between modern and primitive societies.

Tristi Tropici is a female quintet. »The choice was dictated by Lévi-Strauss, by those ›bonnes sauvages‹ who were symbols of lost cultures; they inspire profound nostalgia for a dimension of tenderness, for the recovery of contact with the supernatural, for the West’s lost mission of being feminine.« [Virgilio Sieni]

»It was then that I decided to work on those “tramps lost at the bottom of their swamp” and how their brutalisation had despite all preserved some aspects of the past: aspects reflected in body and facial decoration of an ancestral nature and relationships between cosmic hierarchies and myths. Bodies and populations that reveal a possible bond with the inaccessible, indicating a flicker of hope for us.«

»The stage becomes a place of ancient mystery, a protected space in gentle, merging tones of beige and ochre, a place which represents a past where the silhouettes of the dancers start moving against the light bound in the emotional web of Francesco Giomi’s music… A piece of filmic theatre which is wonderfully visual and densely poetic.«
Il Manifesto, 13th June 2010

»Only the genius of Virgilio Sieni could be in a position to create a stage play out of Tristes Tropiques by Claude Lévi-Strauss, one of the fundamental texts of the 20th century… Along with Tempest: Without a Body by Lemi Ponifasio, Sieni’s Tristi tropici was the best dance piece in this year’s Biennale Danza 2010. The lighting alone by Marco Santambrogio and Sieni himself is fantastic: it creates an indefinable green-blue space with silhouettes of characters moving in the fog – a scenic image which almost hovers in mid-air, reminiscent of an early period of human existence and creating a very strong visual and emotional impression. … A hymn to innocence, to nostalgia and female beauty. In the eyes of the audience it was a triumph.«
La Nuova Venezia, 13th June 2010


Compagnia Virgilio Sieni
Concept, choreography and stage Virgilio Sieni
Original music Francesco Giomi
Costumes Lydia Sonderegger
Lighting Design Marco Santambrogio

Actors Simona Bertozzi, Ramona Caia, Elsa De Fanti, Michela Minguzzi, Filippa Tolaro

Production La Biennale di Venezia, spielzeit’europa | Berliner Festspiele and Bitef Teatar Belgrad within the framework of ENPARTS – European Network of Performing Arts
Supported by the Culture Programme of the European Commission
A coproduction with Biennale de la danse de Lyon, Teatro Stabile di Napoli und Compagnia Virgilio Sieni