Hats off to the organizers, dancers and volunteers from Cultural Association Folk Ri Ualanegli, who made the Festival Internationale del Folklore Pontelandolfo an artistic and administrative success. A special applause to the group’s president Antonio Sicardi, the incredible Michela Delli Veneri and all those who, through dance, proudly promote the culture of Pontelandolfo both here and abroad. Not only did over 130 dancers from five countries perform in Pontelandolfo but also in San Giorgio del Sannio and Morcone. Why is that touring factoid important to me? Simple, as an arts administrator I know that spreading the cost for something over a number of events and venues is prudent. If a dance company is flying 5,386 miles – as the crow flies – from Thailand, they better have a series of gigs set up. It was brilliant to share the festival with neighboring towns. That meant more opportunities for the dance companies, more publicity for the over all series, more opportunities to promote a participating country, more ways to get Pontelandolfo’s name out there, more happy sponsors whose names are posted more places and my favorite – you simply get more bang for your buck.
The opening and closing parades were energizing! Flags of all nations. Banners from each company. Dancers of all ages, colors and ethnicities. The piazza was full of families enjoying the night and excited to see what we all think is probably the best Italian Folk Dance Company, Ri Ualanegli, but also dance styles from far – away places.
Seeing the companies coming in reminded me just how much work organizing a dance festival is. Vetting and inviting companies is easy peasy. It is the other stuff that can be an organizational nightmare. Hmmm, where do you house 130 people? Where do they eat? How do they get from point A to point B? How about the outdoor stage? Lights, sound and tech staff? Promotion?
The hotel in town has 7 rooms. There is no restaurant. There is no real public transportation. The town does not have a professional public relations staff. Ri Ualanegli has members who are committed not only to the art of recreating historic dances but also enhancing the visibility of Pontelandolfo. That means – gulp – they clean out and repurpose the abandoned senior housing project. (That is another one of those political boondoggle stories.) Drag in beds to each apartment. Gather sheets, towels, toiletries. Shine up all the plumbing, light fixtures and grounds. Ask their friends and relatives to volunteer to cook. Arrange tours of Pontelandolfo and the province. Essentially, do what ever it takes to make the housing and cross cultural experience wonderful for the guest artists. Of course, we can’t forget the production values. They totally produce the multi night, multi venue festival. Work with the technical folks and promote the hell out of the event. Did I mention they do it all with volunteers!!!!
I am impressed. I am touched by their generosity, verve and commitment. It is this love for the dance, the village and the country that makes Ri Ualangli exceptional. OK, just thinking about it is making me weepy.
Anybody wonder who was dancing?
Thailand’s Suankularb Wittayalai Chonburi
Troy O’Herlihy Irish Dancers
Gruppo Folk La Takkarata, Fragneto Monforte, Italia
Portugal’s Grupo Folclórico e Cultural da Boavista Portalegre
Colombia’s Ballet Ciudad Duitama
Pontelandolfo’s Own – Ri Ualanegli
Mille grazie a Ri Ualanegli! I thank you, the town thanks you, the audiences thank you and all those dancers who flew in to experience Pontelandolfo’s love for the dance thank you.