Uccelli was inspired by the musically colourful piece Gli Uccelli by the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, in five parts: the Prelude, The Dove, The Hen, The Nightingale and The Cuckoo.
This was one of Nacho Duato’s first pieces of work as a choreographer and was created for the Nederland Dans Theater II. Duato and the dancers from the Dutch company had just visited the zoo to observe the birds there. Nevertheless, Uccelli is in no way a study of the movements and behaviour of birds but rather looks at people who try to imitate them. The piece speaks of a group of dancers that find themselves by chance in a tailor’s cutting room, where they discover a sack full of old clothes and start to dance, dressed in worn out tutus and ridiculous dinner jackets.
This is a flighty, fast and playful ballet with plenty of variation. Some parts are decidedly poetic, whilst others are fleeting and angular. The movement in the piece is often inspired by the behaviour of birds: the way that chickens scratch in the dirt, the graceful flight of a nightingale, the fluttering of doves and the typical movements of a cuckoo.