Living in Rome
Last night marked my first cultural outing since I moved back to Rome a year ago. I went to see a contemporary dance performance by established Israeli choreographer, Hofesh Shechter, who was selected to open the annual Roma Europa festival. Beside the highly-enjoyable dance show, which kept me engaged without a single moment of boredom drift-away, what seriously amused me was to watch the audience. I had forgotten how old the city of Rome is in all senses of the term! In most other international cities, the public for this type of dynamic and innovative dance show would be dominated by the 30 to 50 age group; in Rome last night, the average age was about 65.
If this was a snapshot of contemporary Roman society, it wasn’t a particularly flattering one. Even though it was the festival’s Premiere and many of the people were invited, no one under the age of 50 had made it on the guest list.….Most of the ladies, dressed in a classical elegance of beige and maroon outfits, had undergone plastic surgery, seemingly with the same surgeon. They all looked the same: puffy botoxed lips, tightly pulled eye-lids, dyed blond air perfectly groomed and rather grumpy faces. Who makes them believe that it is in any way attractive or that they look younger? Whoever they are and what rank of importance do they hold, I have no idea and no interest to find out. As a collective group representing the culture of the city, they didn’t make me want to be part of it.
The atmosphere was just as tight and stiff as their cosmetic faces. No sense of enjoyment, it was all about representation. To be seen there, to be part of the invitees, to show that one counts in the cultural circles of Rome was the ultimate purpose of sitting there. Did they actually enjoy the show? I suppose they did, judging by the continuous (but still contained) round of applause at the end. I would have loved to jump on stage and start dancing with the performers, as is often done in Ethiopia. In Rome, that would have been a matter serious enough to call the police.