Madonna Goes to Italy: Experiences Sexxx for the First Time
It is particularly complex to convey the magic of dance on a screen, whether it is cinema or television. Italian movie director Davide Ferrario embraces the challenge with the documentary Sexxx, that adapts for the cinematic medium the choreographies by Matteo Levaggi’s same title stage performance.
In the film, three couples of dancers are wearing practically nothing (except for their dancing shoes and see-through hosiery with a black stripe covering their genitals), while miming sexual desires and intercourses.
Sexxx was presented at the Torino Film Festival 2015, when Madonna was in Turin for her concerts. It is no news that the American pop-singer has explored the theme of sexuality with her music concerts and videos, or even her publications (Madonna’s 1992 book Sex collected erotic photographs by Steven Meisel Studio and film frames shot by Fabien Baron). Hence, it won’t be surprising to find out that Mrs. Ciccone wanted to see how Ferrario remodeled “The Red Shoes” into “Red Light-Shoes.” Wordplay comes easy if you linger upon the title of the film and some of its images. However there is no movie that could be farther away from porn or shows that are near the knuckle.
What inspired Ferrario was the way Matteo Levaggi’s mise-en-scène, succeeded in transforming raunchy gestures into elegant dance expressions. The film tells a story about carnality, as the camera osmotically becomes part of the choreography, by focusing on minute details. The protagonist remains the bare human body, whether it is of a male or female. There is a majestic coordination with the cinematography by Fabrizio Vacca, who plays with light and darkness, almost as a painter who wishes to alternate mystery with revelation.
In fact, diverse nomenclatures weave around this toe dancing experience, as audiences are first introduced to nudity with a brief and poetic voyage through art history. An oeuvre by Tintoretto is emblematic: Susanna and the Elders. The painting shows Susanna, a young married woman, sitting on the edge of a small pool, preparing to take a bath. She is watched by two elderly men, acquaintances of her husband, who desire her. Tintoretto distinguishes himself, in the depiction of the story from the Book of Daniel, by the way he illustrates the luring glance of one of the elders; as well as the fact that the mirror in which Susanna is admiring her figure does not reflect her image, to corroborate how the naked body is something ephemeral.
Thus begins the wandering through naturism in Sexxx. Various expressive devices intertwine with the dances performed by Kristin Furnes Bjerkestrand, Manuela Maugeri, Viola Scaglione, Denis Bruno, Marco De Alters and Vito Pansini. A fleeting stop is done in the world of porn, as well as in a fictional black and white short-film. There is no fixed genre for Davide Ferrario’s Sexxx. His film is a snapshot of today’s physicality; the way dancers abuse their body to achieve perfection; the way more and more power and technique are pursued with the result of numbing emotions. Those three X’s express excess and society’s depthless hypertrophy, that leaves the spectator’s eye uncensored.
This oneiric critique to our voyeuristic and shallow humanity, not only caught Madonna’s attention at the Torino Film Festival, but also that of the audiences at the Moscow International Film Festival. The movie is progressively tickling the interest of many more film festivals worldwide, since it is not a documentary about mere lust. Sexuality in Sexxx turns inside out the deepest recesses of the human mind.
Davide Ferrario’s film marks a journey that begins at a crossroads where the bodies of the dancers find themselves exhausted, but at the same time are forced to appear increasingly powerful, breaking down the barriers of sound, rhythm and physical endurance. Speed, power, technique, combine in a whirlwind of steps that are well anchored to the academic language, exemplified in the use of pointe shoes, leading the viewer on a path of contrasting moods and sensual impulses.