But earlier, before the work was first performed, as soon as Sciarroni let friends watch rehearsals, he was confronted with a seemingly predictable response, but one he did not expect: a strange reading. “We didn’t think about gay meaning at all,” he said. “We don’t want to underline it or make any comment.”
“We’re weird people,” Borzillo said, “so it came up without us addressing it.”
“Alessandro told us to keep it a secret,” Giannini said.
The dancers have now performed “Save the Last Dance” more than 100 times, in various settings, indoors and outdoors, in squares and at least one cathedral. Recently, they danced it at a strange festival in the south of Italy.
“It was very emotional for us to accomplish it within our community,” Borzillo said. “Some other places, you can feel that the public’s gaze is full of prejudice. But after five minutes, you feel that they are fascinated because they recognize that it is a tradition. It is like a meeting point, also between generations. Something that belongs to the past really belongs to the present.”
“You can’t quite put it down,” said Elena Siyanko, PS21’s executive and artistic director. “It is not the past. It’s not nostalgia. But it’s not exactly the present. It’s subverting your expectations.”
The 20-minute runtime, Siyanko acknowledged, makes the dance a little difficult to program. “People are waiting for product delivery, proper performance for at least an hour,” she said. It helps that at PS21, since most places “Save the Last Dance” is performed, it will be paired with a workshop during which Borzillo and Giannini teach a polka chinato to the audience. A dance party will follow, a chance to try spinning with a partner while DJ Joro Boro spins records.