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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York’s theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we’re passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

In Something, seven acrobats entertain audiences as they defy gravity, twirl around the stage and perform hilarious dances. We sat down with Mauro Ardenti, one of the performers, and Davide Agostini, one of the company's original creators, to ask them a few questions about how they began their acrobatic careers!
 

1. What do you love most about being an acrobat? Do you have a favorite act to perform in Something?
MA: To me, being an acrobat means fighting gravity, one way or the other. When I'm doing acrobatics, I feel like nothing exists except my body in the here and now. Everything else disappears—at least until I put my feet back on the ground! My favorite act in Something is my handbalancing solo, but I also have a lot of fun with the final "Panels" act, too!

2. Why is Something special to you?
DA: Something is very special to me and to the rest of the company because we created the first incarnation in just three weeks. It was right after we failed to get into a festival, so the fact that we're now performing it at The New Victory is incredible. Also, it's very fun to perform!

3. When did you start learning tricks? 
MA: When I was five years old, my sister was doing rhythmic gymnastics. One day, I went with her to the gym and I saw some of the other girls training. I remember it like it was yesterday—one of them did a cartwheel and I thought it was the most amazing, beautiful thing I had ever seen. I immediately started practicing cartwheels everywhere, including at my school and our church! My mom eventually surrendered when I was seven years old and took me to a gym so that I could start doing artistic gymnastics. 

DA: I've always been interested in circus. My background is in artistic gymnastics, so everything related to acrobatics catches my attention. My first experience as a performer was in an athletic dance theater company, but after that I wanted to go beyond dance, and also beyond circus. Thus, Liberi Di… Physical Theater was born!
 
The Something Cast The cast of Something

4. Mauro, your character is always reading a book in Something, do you have a favorite book?
MA: I haven't had a lot of time lately, but I love reading anything from the back of a cereal box to a biology essay about breeding tropical frogs. Choosing my favorite book is tough... at the moment the Harry Potter saga sits right at the center of my bookshelf. I've read each of the seven books four or five times, and I love it every time!

5. Do you have any advice for kids who want to become acrobats?
MA: Being an acrobat looks fun (and it is!) but it's also very hard. It requires constant hard work and a lot of endurance. If that's what you want, go for it. Don't give up, no matter what! 

6. How did you first get involved in Liberi Di…Physical Theatre?
MA: The company was founded in 2007 and I joined the following year. At the time, Liberi Di... didn't have a training facility, so they were using the circus school where I was training and teaching. One day, Davide told me that he wanted me to be a part of their first theatrical production, Inverni. I was so nervous the day of the premiere, but the show was great and the audience loved it. That's one of my favorite memories.

DA: Liberi Di... was created by me and three other people—Stefano Pribaz, Valentina Marino and Giulia Piolanti—in 2007.  The four of us had spent the previous seven years as artists in another company. We wanted to be the creators of our own art and free to do anything we could imagine. As a matter of fact, "Liberi Di..." in Italian means "free to..."
 
 
Mauro Ardenti Mauro Ardenti began practicing artistic gymnastics at seven years old. After graduation, acrobatics were just a hobby for him. However, a school soon asked if he would teach full-time in 2005. Ever since then, he's worked as a professional artist. He joined Liberi Di… Physical Theater in 2008 and has been a regular member of the company ever since. In the summer of 2015, he performed with Cirque du Soleil at the Expo Milan 2015 show Allavita! Through acrobatics and circus, he explores the worlds of dance and physical theater. His specialty is hand balancing, but he also performs aerial acts, hand-to-hand and physical theater.
Davide Agostini Davide Agostini's career in artistic gymnastics started when he began competing at six years old. He attended the University Institute for Motor Science in Padova, while joining the athletic dance company Kataklò Theater. As a part of this company, he toured around the world for seven years, even performing at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. He also studied dance with several internationally renowned teachers such as Sonia Bianchi, Gus Bembery, Dmitri Chabardin, Anna Rita Larghi, Paola Corio, Gaetano Petrosino, Michele Oliva and many more. After a number of new experiences, he founded Liberi Di... Physical Theatre to pursue his own creative vision. He's now also a choreographer and teacher at some of the most prestigious schools in Italy.
Posted by Beth Henderson
Map Africa

Written by Emily Bucker, Fall 2016 Communications Apprentice
 
Mother Africa: My Home takes place in the South African township of Khayelitsha. In the Xhosa language, Khayelitsha literally means "new home," inspiring the show's title. South Africa is often referred to as the "rainbow nation," a term coined by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe the country's multicultural diversity. The performers in Mother Africa come from five different African countries, so, in a way, they represent their own version of a "rainbow nation." 

In this show these different countries, languages and cultural backgrounds come together to create a beautiful, engaging piece of theatrical magic. In honor of the Mother Africa: My Home cast, we're highlighting their five, diverse home countries. Follow along on our geographical journey with the map to the right!


Tanzania

Mt. KilimanjaroSimilar to the United States, Tanzania prides itself on being a cultural melting pot. Its population consists of over 120 different ethnic groups; yet there's very little friction between people of different groups or religions. Tanzanians are known to be very peaceful, tolerant and respectful. Children are taught to greet their elders with the phrase "shikamoo," which means "I hold your feet." Adults even address strangers as "dada," meaning sister, or "kaka," meaning brother.

It’s also home to one of the most famous landmarks in the world! Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest point in Africa, stands at a staggering 19,341 feet. That's like stacking 13 Empire State Buildings on top of each other!

Dominant Languages: Swahili, English (126 languages total)
Learn Swahili: ngoma | in•go•mah — dance

Ethiopia

Coffee Production in EthiopiaFor many people in the United States and around the world, coffee is a morning staple. However, many people don't know that the coffee plant was first discovered in Ethiopia! In the 9th century, an Ethiopian goat-herder named Kaldi noticed his goats "dancing" after eating the berries from a certain plant. That plant later became known as coffee after the Kaffa region of Ethiopia where Kaldi lived. Coffee is still one of Ethiopia's top exports today!

Dominant Language: Amharic (90 languages total)
Learn Amharic: ሙዚቃ | moo•zeek•uh — music

Zimbabwe

The ability to read and write is a joy that most of us take for granted. Unfortunately, only about 63% of people in Africa have this ability. The Zimbabwean government has recently made reading and writing the country's top priority. Their literacy rate has grown by leaps and bounds since 1980 when public schools in their country became both free and mandatory. Now, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa: Almost 90%!

Dominant Languages: English, Ndebele, Shona (21 languages total)
Learn Shona: kusiyana | koo•see•yah•nuh — diversity

Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast Fashion Week
Paris, France isn't the only place where fashion thrives! The capital of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, is a fashion hotspot. All of the latest styles are showcased in trendy boutiques lining its busy streets. Abidjan also hosts various fashion trade shows including Ivory Coast Fashion Week, which attracts young African designers who consider it the prime location to present their work to the public. The international attention garnered by these events has made Ivory Coast the fashion capital of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Dominant Language: French (83 languages total)
Learn French: célébrer | ceh•leh•brair — celebrate

South Africa 

Sports are a way of life in South Africa. Rugby, cricket and football (or soccer) are among the most popular. In fact, South Africa's the only country other than England to have hosted the world championships for all three of these sports. You might remember that South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. It was, in fact, the first African country to have that honor!

South Africans at their World Cup!

Khayelitsha, the township from which this show derives its name, is the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. Sadly, it was established as an "apartheid dumping ground" in the 1980s. The town is overpopulated and suffers from extreme poverty, poor community infrastructure and high crime rates. Still, the cast of Mother Africa: My Home has risen above these hardships to create a piece of theater that celebrates their culture and humanity. 

Dominant Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu (34 languages total)
Learn Xhosa: inkcubeko | een•ku•beko — culture
 
Emily Buckner Emily Buckner is an apprentice in the communications department at The New 42nd Street where she has spent the fall learning how to bring her #LoveOfTheater to the masses through social media, marketing and PR. She is majoring in Dramatic Arts and English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in her home state of NC. She loves musical theatre, sunshine, netflix, mexican food and her cat "Cookie Dough."
 

 
New Victory Thumb Experience the excitement of Mother Africa: My Home and see this "rainbow nation" come together to create a circus spectacular.  Get your tickets here!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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