Life in Lockdown: Nicoletta Bonanni Prt 2
WHAT ABOUT LISTENING?
My beautiful friend Jodie from London came to visit me here in Rome and she will be staying with me for the rest of the summer. We always have very interesting talks, often allowing me to reach a place of deep reflection and self questioning. She always wanted to start a movement practice but felt lazy about it or at least she did not know where to start. Recently I have been doing quite a lot of Yoga, integrating it with other forms of physical exercising and movement work that I normally do. She has expressed her wish to try some poses with me, so this evening when the temperature will get a bit cooler, we will try some Yoga together! A few days ago she has expressed the difficulties she has found when trying to engage particular muscles in her body. She said to me: ‘I was walking down the street and I thought that I should engage my abdominal muscles and my gluteus, but the thought of feeling my belly button reaching for my lower back freaked me out a little bit!’ Her exclamation made me laugh because it is a feeling I have gotten accustomed to, but it also made me think as a movement teacher and facilitator I use language and visualisations to inform the practice, and as much as I try to diversify it, not every person in class will understand or positively engage with those explanations.
So, how do we guide students to learn how to listen to their bodies? I will use a combination of language, visualisation and touch to guide her through few poses. The touch will help her reach that specific posture and alignment, and language and visualisation will hopefully allow her to access her muscles as well as activate them. Using verbs like squeezing, pushing, lifting etc. will hopefully help her engage the muscles needed for the task, because she can connect to these actions outside of the physical exercise. By encouraging her to visualise certain body parts she can discover new important muscles in one area of the body and visualising the physical action will really help her find a way to actually access it! Let’s see how it goes, how she feels and what feedbacks she will give me after the session!
WHERE IS HOME?
Today was truly a beautiful day! I have been craving to eat the traditional Senegalese dish called Djebu djen for weeks now. I cannot cook it (yet!) and here in Rome it is very hard to find traditional Senegalese food, unless you are lucky enough to be invited to a Senegalese house and eat their delicious food. Well I got lucky today!!! I was invited to my friend’s home (actually to one of his friend’s home) as he was cooking Djebu yep (which is actually a variation of the Djebu djen, with meet instead of fish). My friend Aliou knew how much I have been wanting to eat it and how much I was struggling to find a place that would have it on the menu.
My friend Jodie and I embarked on a journey with public transport on a very hot and sunny day; when we arrived, we were welcomed to their place not only with delicious food but also with Aliou playing Kora and the others singing along, making lunch sound like a sweet jam session. It reminded me of my times in Senegal. There is something so special in learning how to feel at home in a place that is not biologically home, in a place where you don’t recognise uses and costumes as necessarily familiar. It challenges your feeling of comfortability, it enlarges your perception of what is home for others and maybe it makes you discover a hidden side of yourself.
It was so nice and refreshing to watch them creating a space for themselves that they could call home; it was so nice to feel welcomed, and so caring of them to create a space in which we could feel comfortable too, and it was nice to have a friend with who I could experience all of this with.
JERUSALEMA FLASH MOB
Today is the last day of my blog and I am finishing with a bang! My friend Simone Samaki, born in Arezzo (Italy) but currently living in London, is the creator of the Speaker Box Street Party, a community of people who go around London with a speaker, using dance and music to engage into cultural exchanges and social bonding in street settings. The Black Lives Matter Roma and Neri Italiani (Black Italians) have invited him to do a Flash Mob in Rome (and other cities of the country) to raise awareness on racism in the Italian community and to denounce any form of discrimination through art. I met Simone in London years ago and I have always been impressed by his enthusiasm and by the initiatives he has been doing in both Italy and the UK. I couldn’t miss it for the world; meeting an old friend and making new ones, but also fighting inequalities with what I know best and do best: dance!
I arrived in Piazza del Popolo to find a beautiful crowd already dancing and sharing good vibes. There were families with kids, young people and older ones, all of them being there for the same cause. For this Flash Mob, Simone got inspired by the dance challenge that started to circulate few months ago on the song Jerusalema by Master KG feat. Nomcebo. Sharing a song and a dance coming from the African continent to send a powerful message: Italians need to familiarise with Black issues, need to educate themselves and need to stand for Black people and Black Italians to ensure the creation and preservation of a fair country, where all people have the same opportunities and where Black people are not victims of idiotic stereotypes.
We danced, we laughed, we bonded, we danced some more.
Thanks immensely to everyone involved in this event, you made my day and you restored some of my faith in humanity.
Nicoletta Key Bonanni is a movement artist born in Rome, Italy. For the past 9 years, she has been developing herself as a performer, choreographer and educator in both dance and movement fields, with a particular interest in vocabularies drawing from African and Caribbean traditional forms, contemporary dance, somatic practices and movement for actors. Through her choreographic work and practice MOVEMENT DECO', she aspires to educate, create and integrate forms, by also sharing the values of traditional and modern dances of Africa and the Caribbean cross-racially, in the art and community sector.