Harmony for Peace: the unstoppable (virtual) march

Now in its eighth edition, even Covid could not stop the march that is part of the “Harmony Among Peoples” festival. We talk with Antonella Lombardo, artistic director of the Laboratorio Accademico Danza (LAD) dance school in Montecatini, Italy and promoter of the event.

We have seen them in the most different places in these months of pandemic: pianists, violinists, rockers, pop and opera singers on the roofs, in the squares, in the parks, always keeping the right distance. It bears witness how nothing and no one can stop artistic expression, not even a worldwide virus.

Antonella Lombardo is artistic director of the Laboratorio Accademico Danza school in Montecatini, near Florence, Italy. He’s also the creator of the Harmony Among Peoples festival that for 15 years has been promoting the idea of the search for possible harmony through art, as an inclusive and universal instrument. The 2020 edition did not stop with Covid.

What shape did the festival take this year?
The “Harmony for Peace” march is one of the main events of the “Harmony among Peoples” festival, and we knew that this year we were not going to be able to hold it in the traditional way. A virtual format was the only possibility, and so we launched it on 12 November.

We invited schools in the area in which we are located, as well as beyond Italy, to make videos that express the meaning of peace. The response was incredible.

Despite the fact that many schools in Italy now use, from a certain degree upwards, education at a distance, teachers supported the project, students responded enthusiastically, and everything took on a higher value, especially from the point of view of building relationships.

The teachers collaborated with each other, and many classes made the videos that we posted on the DanceLab Armonia Cultural Association Facebook page. We received works not only from Italy, but also from other countries like France and Jordan. Thus an extremely varied digital marathon took shape and said “peace” in the most diverse artistic and choreographic formats.

Of the material you received, was there something that touched you in a particular way? Why?
We were struck first of all by the interactions among the kids. We don’t know where all this will lead, and the fact that they got together to work on what it means to build peace, today, is perhaps the most important thing.

They had to come up with ideas with their teachers in order to make the videos. They went deep into the meaning of peace, and the fact that it is not a slogan. This made them have to dig into each other’s hearts.

Even the civil servants from towns in our area who saw the early beginnings and growth of the “Harmony Among Peoples” festival were enthusiastic and told us that it was one of the most beautiful activities of their lives.

In short, these relationships are the most beautiful fruit: true relationships, based on relationships built on our common good.

What projects are you working on now?
In collaboration with the Custody of the Holy Land, particularly with the support of Fr. Ibrahim Faltas and the John Paul II Foundation, we are working to create a dance school in Bethlehem. This project hopes to be a glimmer of hope and give dignity to so many children in these territories, who are prisoners in the open air.

Another project is an international campus for dance, which will be based in Italy but be international. It will be a training centre where art will become a tool to break any kind of barrier – a place for all young people who want to leave their mark and use this language to bring beauty everywhere, even where it seems impossible.

Stefania Tanesini

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