year: 2023

concept, direction and choreography: Nicola Galli
dance and creation: Nicola Galli, Massimo Monticelli
set design and lights: Margherita Dotta, Nicola Galli
dramaturg: Giulia Melandri
smell on stage: Aquaflor Firenze
production: TIR Danza
co-production: Marche Teatro / Inteatro Festival, Festival Aperto / Fondazione I Teatri – Reggio Emilia
with the support of: CCN Ballet de Lorraine, ATER Fondazione, Network Grand Luxe
artistic residences: CCN Ballet de Lorraine accueil studio 22/23, residenze Inteatro, Grand Studio Bruxelles, ICK Amsterdam, Centro Culturale S. Chiara
in collaboration with: Rete Almagià
length: 50 minutes

In front of us, the underground.
A dark, earthy cavity housing an invisible, industrious ecosystem of organisms engaged in the complex process of constant connection, exchange and transformation of matter.
Starting from the sensorial, perceptive, cognitive and communicative abilities that constitute the connecting element between the biological kingdoms, the creation ULTRA offers a view of a hidden world, bringing to light a transformative process embodied by two electric bodies, inhabitants in transit and custodians of an archive of knowledge.
The atavistic separation between human and non-human takes shape in the scenic vision of a contemporary chasm as disenchantment, twilight and the fall of human hegemony over the world, in an attempt to redefine the boundaries between kingdoms and mend the asymmetries of the present.
In the close relationship between body, sound, vocality, light and smell, a dramaturgical plot is substantiated, aimed at questioning the human and proposing an unprecedented order of perception. Including 'other' knowledge, visions, times and languages in our lives allows us to welcome unexpected relationships and open up to a possible new system of communication that aspires to redefine the concept of intelligence.
ULTRA encourages us to imagine ourselves as ulta-humans, united in a momentum of collective contamination, to recognise the regenerative power of relationships between things and to perceive a balanced and symbiotic organisation of the world.

Nicola Galli

"In the panorama of young Italian contemporary dance (or physical theatre), Galli is notable for research that is also characterised by craftsmanship, which in this new 'Ultra' manifests itself in a total black landscape.
[...] 'Ultra' questions the audience through the absence of words and signs with which to explain and clarify. Galli's vision - beyond pessimism - is ruthless and mysterious. The Italian artist is the creator of a theatre of enigmas and in this case we do not feel like spectators in front of a sci-fi dystopia: that black magma is our future, those ultra-human beings moving like worms under the ground are us, if we continue not to take care of what surrounds us."

Andrea Pocosgnich [ www.teatroecritica.net - 06/2023 ]

"Nicola Galli, together with Massimo Monticelli, proposes in 'Ultra' a choreographic vision of an underworld, a cavern in which luminous crystals show a moving terrain, in which two undefined figures act, called upon to transform that matter and themselves as the substance of a life that generates and re-generates, where everything appears dead and dark. In a rarefied and obscure dimension, Nicola Galli's action insists on an installation dimension that offers no way out and asks to be accepted in full or rejected in full. Nicola Galli is a performer of acute intelligence, but above all engaged in removing himself from his works, so that they live independently of himself. Perhaps 'Ultra' is an auroral example of this, it lights up something, something that transcends the dance, transcends the performer and the performance becomes a place, a space, a vision that unfolds before our eyes, that asks to be welcomed and perhaps, at a later time, interpreted, experienced."

Nicola Arrigoni [ www.sipario.it - 07/2023 ]

"The scene of 'ULTRA' by Nicola Galli is animated by a desertified world in which the human figure appears small, fragile, black, moving illuminated by totems in backlighting that recall the cinematography of Stanley Kubrick and his monolith; 'ULTRA 'is set in a dark world, illuminated by monolith-like lights that recall urban landscapes, miniature skyscrapers raised to the sky between which the choreographer and the other dancer who inhabit the installation move.
[...] Here, however, fragile humanity seems to have returned to a troglodyte level, crawling inside an underground universe, returning to an almost entirely non-verbal phase and to movements that it is difficult to establish how much they have to do with the human, and how much more with the animal.
The show maintains ample visual suggestion and a rhythm marked by a play of light that radiates both from the small parallelepipeds and from two giant brackets at the back of the stage, which almost seem to leave an empty space for existence."

Renzo Francabandera [ www.paneacquaculture.net - 09/2023 ]

"The result is remarkable: in particular, ULTRA is a completely unique world in which several disciplines not only meet, but also merge completely. Light and sound in particular are the protagonists, almost more so than the two performers. The sound score is the thread running through the entire show and accompanies this ambience seamlessly. It deserves to be emphasised: what a beautiful composition! Recognisable sounds (including distorted voices, fireworks, electronic pulses) combine to create an atmospheric, industrial-like effect. Lights and sounds not only create an autonomous aesthetic, but also dominate the world events we witness.
ULTRA swallows you into a mysterious and disquieting world. Looking at this universe feels a bit like an apocalyptic, futuristic nature documentary. It is a coherent composition with a distinct atmosphere: sinister but not threatening, like a kind of friendly nightmare."

Iris Spanbroek [ www.theaterkrant.nl - 12/2023 ]

"Darkness. And in that darkness, the action of subterranean, crawling, panting, hidden creatures. A dystopian landscape where everything lives, germinates, is born and dies in darkness.
ULTRA is a creation for strong spirits and expectant minds. The show moves on the edge of a disquieting visual provocation. The darkness pierced by the intermittent flashing of totemic lights reveals the laborious proceeding of two bodies engaged in sounding out an invisible microcosm. The investigation is exhausting, blunt, ruthless. That magmatic ecosystem, made up of bacteria, arthropods and mycetes, within which life pulses from the roots, tells the complex story of mysteriously interconnected biological kingdoms. An exciting, porous territory, engaged in a multiform process of transformation of matter, on which the two figures move circumspectly and silently.
The two performers dredge the ground like diviners in search of sounds, smells, small dynamisms embodied by a gestuality borrowed from the invisible universe with which they initiate a meditated, suffered symbiosis. A gesturality that in a rush of collective contaminations evokes a parallel reality where everything is still to be probed, experimented, imagined, experienced, dreamed.
The artist from Ferrara is not new to these leaps into the void, but has always been attentive to the reasons for a divergent thought that is not afraid of dissonance and possible derailments; once again he attempts a plunge into the unknowable. Bringing together bodily investigation and different knowledge, his choreography aims at a borderline movement that is stubborn, never surrendered, the result of a theatre of the body that knows how to become a very sensitive antenna, overturning models and hierarchical orders in favour of an ultra-human panism capable of accommodating a broader and more inclusive perspective of our experiencing the world.
[...] In a subtle game of balances, where individual language fluidifies and expands into a kind of universal language capable of accommodating a plurality of realms and knowledge,
ULTRA is a torch burning in the dark. It is up to the spectators to decide whether or not to enter this territory full of enigmas and broken paths."

Maurizia Veladiano [ Giornale di Vicenza - 03/2024 ]

"ULTRA by Nicola Galli is a sensory performance of contemporary dance that leaves one amazed and astonished: a true investigation into the hidden, occult, mysterious side of life and the surrounding that inhabits the world.
[...] The show takes a leap backwards and forwards at the same time: the sensory performance takes place in this underground, characterised by silent but active presences (the sounds, the smell, the smoke, the lights, the music) which, at certain points, seems to turn into a battlefield, into an end-of-the-world scenario, where everything ends up breaking down and being transformed. The beginning and the end of an era.
[...] Nicola Galli starts from a sound, light, choreographic and scientific investigation and appeals to all possible senses, he approaches the audience through corporeity and perception: understanding (difficult and not immediate) passes through sensation and personal thought. The imaginary replaces rationality. There is no desire to give answers but to stimulate further questions, doubts, discussions.
Through bodies, light, smell,
ULTRA presents a dance free of any pretense, capable of being a guide among the beauties, the infinite intelligences of nature. It's a performance that re-proposes and seeks a contact, an indispensable link that makes every balance a synthesis of perfection, life, reconciliation and inevitable transformation. An inspiration to return to the everyday dimension, without forgetting this natural world and its inscrutable truths."

Martina Zorzin [ Quarta Parete Roma - 03/2024 ]

"The interest that choreographer Nicola Galli has always shown in the borderlands between human and non-human reaches its most extreme elaboration with the performance ULTRA, to the point of hypothesising forms of hybridisation between organisms of different natures.
In a scene covered with soil and shrouded in darkness, barely illuminated by intermittent neon lights, the 'electric bodies' of Nicola Galli and Massimo Monticelli move as if guided by an uncontrollable inner impulse. Their silhouettes in black jumpsuits, with dreadlocked hairstyles, can barely be distinguished as they attempt a difficult balancing act to remain upright, or as they plot over luminous crystals in search of living organisms, connections between elements, possible new forms of life. At certain moments it seems as if the performers are trying to merge into one polymorphous being.
An icy yet fascinating and mysterious performance,
ULTRA proposes a radical vision of dance, inviting us to reflect on the dark component of our terminal era, on the one hand subtracting clarity of vision, and on the other inviting us to imagine new connections, possibilities of regeneration, both in a metaphorical sense and in terms of alternative scenic forms, which through the synthesis of sound, light, images and even smells, reshape our perceptive geography."

Roberto Giambrone [ Danza&Danza - 04/2024 ]

Nicola Galli

Nicola Galli