New Humanity Movement

Social Harmony and Art

campus-2009This week we are still in Tuscany, offering the full version of an article published recently by the magazine Città Nuova. A school of dance and cultural association. To respond to an alarm in the city, and to give opportunity to participants and spectators to become aware of their opportunities to citizens. Collaboration and exchange with other cities. A meeting with the choreographer Antonella Lombardo.

Paolo Balduzzi- Montecatini terme (Pt)

The young man from Cameroon said enthusiastically: “At first, when we got to know each other, we seemed so different, then the differences seemed to have disappeared”. His French-speaking friend continued: “Here we learn to appreciate the human body as a means to express beauty and harmony; but, above all, we also learn how to interact with others, to appreciate the different approaches to life and dance itself”.

These are just a couple of impressions that the young people gave me on their way to a rehearsal. Thirty-two young people from different parts of the world took part in the Fourth International Festival ‘Harmony among peoples’. This was held in Tuscany, Italy, not far from Florence.

Antonella Lombardo, the director of the Campus, was waiting for me at her office cluttered with photos, press releases and lecture notes.

She explained: “The aim of the Festival is to promote the formation of consciences and attitudes in order to establish harmonious relationships among cultures; this will eventually create an environment where dialogue and intercultural collaboration will become possible and fruitful. This Festival is of a high professional standard, and is open to all young people, especially those coming from difficult situations, like Africa and the Middle East. These young people have already studied dance in their countries; here they are all given the opportunity to share the same stage and to express their artistic experiences that could contribute in identifying common elements of fraternity”.

What is the basis of this project?
The whole project is based on the concept that art could be an instrument of unity and not one of division. This is put into practice even in the area where the Cultural Dance Association is situated: in this area prostitution is widespread, and this keeps us all concerned. A group of us who share the ideal of universal brotherhood started asking ourselves what could we possibly do to improve this part of the city. Then we hit the idea: here the human body was being debased, exploited and was a means of division between persons. We wanted to show, on the contrary, that the human body was first of all beauty and, hence, harmony. Art, being a universal instrument of unity, did the rest. All we did was to offer our professionalism, our talent, to be of service to the community where we live, and also, living in a global village, to many others from different parts of the world”.

Therefore, the Festival was the fruit of the school…
“That’s right. First of all we focused on professionalism. After all we are a dance school, and what we propose through the Festival is not simply a number of master classes held by internationally acclaimed lecturers, but also, an experience that gives the students, the volunteers and the spectators the possibility to be agents of change. Under the guise of art one could share in a ‘normal’ way experiences that would otherwise be impossible to share. An example would be the young people from Palestine who, although living a few miles away, cannot meet their Jewish counterparts to share their common problems, emotions and needs. The same applies to those who come from Africa: they know very little about the problems of the Middle-East and other conflicts; their main concern is famine. The reality is that here we sweat, we cry and we sometimes feel dejected. Yet, we always find the strength to start all over again”.

What about the young people?
“This year we have young people coming form Cameroon, France, Spain and Italy; from the Middle-East, they came for Israel and Palestine. In the case of the latter two, the most moving thing are the relationships that are built not by words, but by facts, or rather, by dance steps. They have rediscovered each other as brothers and sisters, different, yes, but united in achieving the same goal. The powerful expression of freedom and beauty that a well-done dance could provide helps immensely this kind of dialogue, which continues even when the young people return to their homes”.

What effect does this international experience has on your city?
“As I already said, our project was meant primarily to address a need of the city; in the statute of the Association it is stated that our aim to is help create in society, especially through schools, a new awareness about peace. We reject war as an instrument to settle international disputes because it violates the peoples’ right to freedom. Our work in schools is essential, and during the final night of the Festival we saw how interested people are in these topics. We are receiving a lot of requests from many other cities to go and address their schools”.

This year you invited Fr Ibrahim Faltas, the parish priest of Jerusalem…

“Fr Ibrahim gained international fame during the siege of 2002; he offered to be arrested instead of the many persons who were in the Basilica of Bethlehem, and in doing so, he avoided a blood-bath. He has recently written to us to tell us how important the Festival is for young people. According the him, ‘the young people taking part were trained for months to acquire an international vision in a peaceful and serene place like Italy. This must have been very important for their personal growth and to foster in each one the hope of a better future based on the fact the peace is a possibility for all’. He invited us to go there to familiarize ourselves with their situation; this could lead to further collaboration between us and Jerusalem and other cities by sharing our synergies for the benefit of all”.

As a choreographer, what does training these young people mean?

“It means doing well my job, that is, doing my best in all honesty to transmit the true meaning of art to the student. I understand art as an education towards beauty, and also towards bettering the quality of one’s life, independent whether one becomes ‘a successful artist’ or not. The most important thing is that through art the students are in a position to make a little masterpiece out of their life.
After all, one’s happiness depends on that of all; no one can be happy all on his own, and this fact is borne by the witness of many artists: by striving at all costs to achieve success, one does not become happy and free, but a slave. I believe that the young who people pass through the experience of our Campus are glad with the achievement of the others, as it is were their own. You could see their joy in their eyes. This year the theme was ‘Hope overcomes fear’: we all returned to our daily life with the deep awareness that the Hope that we experienced during those days was not something abstract, but something alive, real; indeed, Hope is a Person, even for our city”.    

Copyright Città Nuova 2009,

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