“Text, subtext, context - Gestures between Stanislavskij and the Baroque”



Deda Cristina Colonna (it)

DECEMBER 9 - 11, 2011

“Text, subtext, context - Gestures between Stanislavskij and the Baroque”

A three day workshop for musicians and singers with Deda Cristina Colonna

Copenhagen - December 9-11, 2011

“But above all, even if your recit be said with all the necessary changes in the voice, pauses and dotted notes, it will always be languid and weak, unless it is accompanied by a suitable action. This is what gives your speech strength, expression and vividness. Gesture wonderfully expresses the character you are trying to represent. Action is what ultimately shapes a true actor; […] the greatness and the beauty of an actor consists in action: actio, actio, actio.”
(Giovanni Battista Mancini, Riflessioni pratiche sopra il canto figurato, Milano 1777)



PLACE: Det Kongl Danske Musikkonservatorium
, Rosenørns Allé 22, Frederiksberg, Room S102
FREE for all DKDM students an teachers
Limited admission for external participants (passive and active)

10-11: Baroque dance for musicians - To dance or not to dance?
Due to the changing emphasis of the relevance of dance education in many musical academies, despite the great achievements in musical philology in recent years, dance music – or music inspired by dance – is often played without the necessary reference to the practical experience of dance itself. In the 17th century, dance was considered to be a vital qualification. Guillaume Dumanoir (1664) expressed this view:
“When a master gets his diploma in the community of the violinists, he must not only show that he can play the violin, but mostly he must show that he can dance, so that his professional ability can be judged […], which implies the art of dancing as much as and maybe even more than playing the instruments.”
(Guillaume Dumanoir, Roi des Violons, “Le Mariage de la Musique avec la Danse”, Paris 1664)

An easy dance, John Playford’s country dance “Hole in the Wall”, will be a practical way to deal with a few interesting points, such as:
• Moving on music : direction, intention, expression, or phrasing as the relationship between meaning, time and space
• Preparing action in time , or the use of the upbeat in dance music
• The suite : character, tempo and style

11-12: Introductory talk to the importance of non-verbal communication on the stage and in life, therefore the use of gesture in acting.
Examples of the different types of gestures and application to one aria, sung by one of the students.


DATE: FRIDAY DEC. 9, 13-16
PLACE: Det Kongl Danske Musikkonservatorium
, Rosenørns Allé 22, Frederiksberg, Room S102
FREE for all DKDM students an teachers
Limited admission for external participants (passive and active)

SATURDAY DEC. 10, 12-18 &
SUNDAY DEC. 10, 14-18
PLACE: Blågårds Kirke,
Blågårds Plads 6A, 2200 København N (Sat-Sun)
Active participants: 200 dkk per day. All three days: 500 dkk.
Passive participants: 100 dkk per day. All three days: 200 dkk.


Speak the music: the function of action and gesture in singing
Baroque opera is now a growing part of the repertory for an increasing number of theatres and opera houses. Singers feel the need to enhance their knowledge of the theatrical aspects of this repertory and in this workshop, acting is taught with a specific approach for singers, concentrating on the relationship between the word – both spoken and sung -, action and gesture. Performance practice, as influenced by the study of rhetorical gestures, is viewed as a practical tool, enhancing the performer’s abilities; a continuity is established between the baroque stage and Stanislavskji!

• From the spoken word, to gesture and to music: what’s on the composer’s mind?
• Text, gesture and subtext, or how to fit Stanislavskji on the baroque stage: what do I say, what do I mean?
• Sung words representing singing, thinking and talking: the different levels within recits and arias
• Exchanging words and meaning: the dialogue or the art of direction and intention in speech
• The baroque theatrical body; proxemics on stage
• Rhetorical gestures, or how the ornament carries the meaning of a phrase: objective gestures, subjective gestures, gestures that mirror the musical line

• A few theatrical exercises will be proposed to the group
• Individual coaching on arias, duets or scenes (repertoire c. 1600-1750)

Continuo: There will be a continuo player present in the class (440). Pls bring min. 2 sets of music.

Registration: Send short CV and repertoire idea to:

More info from Björn Ross -

Deda Cristina Colonna graduated in ballet from Civico Istituto Musicale Brera in Novara and Ecole Supérieure d’Etudes Chorégraphiques in Paris. She holds a degree in dance from the Sorbonne, where she specialised in Baroque Dance and Italian/French Renaissance Dance. She worked as a soloist and guest choreographer with The New York Baroque Dance Company.
She graduated from the Acting School of Teatro Stabile di Genova and she acted in various productions ranging from Shakespeare to Cechov and Genet, in Italy, France and Germany.
She choreographed the dances and the baroque gesturing of many operas and ballets, especially of the baroque and classical repertoire, working with directors as Pier Luigi Pizzi, (with whom she also worked ad assistant director: Tearo alla Scala, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Teatro delle Muse- Ancona, Teatro Real – Madrid) Guido De Monticelli, Antonio Latella.
She has given regular courses or masterclasses in baroque dance and acting at Nuova Fabbrica dell'Opera Barocca in Novara, Ohio State University Department of Dance, Scuola Civica di Milano and numerous Conservatories in Italy and abroad.
Her research on baroque dance was published in the proceedings of numerous international conferences.
She is the Director of the Dance School of Civico Istituto Brera in Novara.
She has recently begun her career as a director-choreographer, staging original works like “Voluptas Dolendi I gesti del Caravaggio” (with Mara Galassi) and “Tetraktys, ovvero la prima età del mondo”, a new ballet inspired by Marivaux’s “La dispute” set to music by Haendel. She has directed and choreographed numerous operas from the baroque repertoire such as "Mulier Fortis" by J.B. Staut (University of Pavia/Cremona), "La serva scaltra" by J.A. Hasse (Teatro Coccia – Novara) , "Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria", "L'Orfeo" and “L’incoronazione di Poppea” by C. Monteverdi (Accademia Internazionale della Musica – Milano), "La liberazione di Ruggero dall'Isola di Alcina" by F. Caccini and "La Diana Schernita" by G. Cornacchioli (Teatro Jovellanos - Gijon, Spain), "The Fairy Queen" by H. Purcell and “Così fan tutte” by W.A. Mozart (Teatro Sociale di Como /As.Li.Co.), “Orfeo, a ba-rock opera” (XII Festival de Musica Antigua de Gijòn, Spain), “Euridice” by J. Peri (Teatro di Budrio), “ Ottone in villa” by A. Vivaldi (Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik) and “La Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo” by E. de’ Cavalieri (Nordic Network For Early Opera/Copenhagen Renaissance Music Festival), “L’Incoronazione di Poppea” by C. Monteverdi at the Copenhagen Royal Theatre.  
Upcoming projecs include the staging of “Il Giasone” by F. Cavalli at Drottningholm Slottsteater, Stockholm.

This course is a organised by Nordic Network for Early Opera in collaboration with The Royal Danish Academy of Music and Malmö Academy of Music.
Supported by The Danish Art Council and Kulturkontakt Nord.