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BWW Reviews: Italian International Dance Festival a Cultural Gem

The Italian International Dance Festival (IIDF) was held on Friday, March 22nd at the Julia Richman Theater on East 67th Street. The Artistic Director for the IIDF was Antonio Pio Fini of Calabria, the Creative Director and host was Tabata Caldironi of Milan, and the Executive Director of the program was Gianluca Blandi of Calabria. The IIDF was the first festival of its type in New York City; it was a unique artistic collaborative and an opportunity to build a cultural bridge between the United States and Italy. While many performers travelled from Italy to be a part of the festival, New York dancers also took part in the program.

The program opened with a lively, traditional Tarantella choreographed by Nicola Iervasi and danced by the Talent Unlimited High School students. Costumed in red, green, and white, the piece set the stage for an evening of Italian dance treasures. The next piece on the program was a graceful, modern duet choreographed by Michael Mao, beautifully performed by Kristen Draucker and Antonio Pio Fini to "Requiem" in celebration of Guissepe Verdi's 200th centenary.

This event also featured performances from Italy by Atzewa Dance Company from Modena, Aconcoli Dance di Elena Albano from Milan and two New York based companies, Caliince Dance, and Mare Nostrum Elements 2. Choreographed by Kevin Albert and Nicola Iervasi, Mare Notsrum Elements 2 performed "Abbalamu Cu Ventu." The troupe of eight developed the theme of an Italian village with lively steps and clever choreography.

Several Luigi choreographies highlighted the program. Dancer Jessica Black performed a flawless, elegant solo to "Solitude" by Duke Ellington. Erika Black had the honor of dancing Luigi's choreography to "New York, New York."

The winners of the "AJD Italy Emerging Choreographer 2013 and the "AJD Italy Emerging Dancer 2013" were featured in the program. They will have their work showcased at the Alto Jonio Dance Festival in Southern Italy. The festival's program concluded with "Moment to Moment" in homage to the Italian Vespers beautifully performed by the members of the Staten Island Ballet with choreography by Ellen Tharp.

The Italian International Dance Festival honored members of the dance community who share Italian heritage and have also made great contributions to the art of dance. Luigi received a "Lifetime Achievement Award." Ben Vereen who attended Friday's performance called Luigi, "The Master of Jazz," and the IIDF audience gave him a standing ovation. Other honorees included the internationally acclaimed dramatic ballerina Allessandra Ferri, who received the "IIDF-A Heart for Art Extraordinary Dancer Award," and Elena Albano for her illustrious career teaching modern dance at the Centro Studi Coreografici Carcano Theater in Milan. Albano received the "IIDF A Heart for Art Teaching Award."

Further information about the Italian Dance Festival can be obtained by visiting their website, at

Photo Credit: Marcel Ragonese

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