A dance mediator in the Val Poschiavo
Swiss Performing Arts Award 2022
Paola Gianoli was born in 1963 and grew up in Poschiavo. A translator, she has been practising contact improvisation since 1989. She spent many years living in Geneva. Since returning home, she has dedicated herself to bringing culture, and especially dance, to the peripheral region of Val Poschiavo. This Italian-speaking valley in the canton of Graubünden has no theatre infrastructure. Working with the association Riverbero, she seeks out ways and means of transporting high-quality contemporary culture projects to the Val Poschiavo that mostly appear only in urban areas. Her aim is not just to expand the range of culture available locally but also to bring the periphery and the centres closer together, setting up a fertile dialogue between different regions. Paola Gianoli specifically targets audiences from the Engadin, Val Bregaglia and Valtellina, seeking to unite the three neighbouring regions and strengthen cohesion.
For more than a decade now, Paola Gianoli has been curating an annual programme for the national Das Tanzfest organised by the dance network Reso. As well as offering courses in contemporary, urban and Oriental dance, she screens dance films and stages performances on the piazza in Poschiavo. In 2022, for example, the local music school put on an ad-hoc performance with the company CocoonDance; as a partner of the Migros dance festival Steps 2022, Paola Gianoli also arranged an appearance by the Valais-based choreographer Raffaële Giovanoli. She has an elaborate theatre specially constructed in the local school gymnasium to accommodate these events. Although the technical and human resources required are substantial and securing funding is difficult, Paola Gianoli’s commitment to dance in the Val Poschiavo is infectious, and an object lesson in cultural mediation in Switzerland’s peripheral regions.
Paola Gianoli is passionate about dance and contact improvisation and has been working for ten years to bring culture, and especially dance, to the Val Poschiavo – a region that, to this day, lacks the necessary theatre infrastructure to present culture from the urban centres. Paola is exceptionally active and assiduous in programming not just the Tanzfest but also a dance season that takes place at every available venue in the valley, including the depot of the Rhaetian Railway, where she combined a performance with the comings and goings of the locomotives. Paola Gianoli was named as cultural personality of 2019 by the online newspaper Il Bernina and was president of Pro Grigioni Italiano from 2014 to 2017. Her great perseverance symbolises the dedication, strength and future of cultural education in Switzerland’s peripheral regions.
Marco Cantalupo, jury member