“It was “Supper” that prompted thoughts of borders. The piece is about emigration and requires audience members to pass through a convincingly nervous-making simulation of border control…. Inside are long folding tables, which soon become the site of a Last Supper, arranged like Leonardo da Vinci’s, the kind of farewell dinner that precedes leaving one’s homeland.The tables are key. On four legs or tilted, they serve as platforms for the dancers, who scramble up their sides or run along their edges. The tables represent walls, as at borders, and the dancers slip through the gaps between them, gaps that sometimes slam shut…..”Directed and choreographed by Silvana Cardell, who herself emigrated to Philadelphia from Buenos Aires more than a decade ago, “Supper” is a collection of imagistic sketches. It’s most effective when it’s moving fast, conveying the terror and difficulty of many emigrant experiences…”  

New York Times,  Brian Seibert, May 15 2016

“…In her most recent dance theater work, Supper, People on the Move, Argentine American choreographer Silvana Cardell showcases how dance can confront social issues viscerally, triggering responses that tap something as deep as migration is to our very existence…Together, the physical, unrelenting encounter between dancers and audience, effects an empathy and a recognition that statistics reporting, and images so rarely achieve… …. the room—like the stories—could be anywhere lengthening their journeys, the room recedes behind powerful imagery….”

thINKingDANCE, Human Movement, Carolyn Merritt,  July 14  2015

“…Supper generates undeniable empathy for immigrants, refugees, exiles, and those navigating beyond the borders of their homelands. It is not tethered to a single narrative but evokes the overall struggles inseparable from many immigrant experiences The result is a work that is at once specific and universal without ever being reductive…”

Broad Street Review, Samantha Maldonado July 7, 2015

“…To these stories in a harrowing, captivating dance theater piece. Filled with symbolism and metaphor, it forcefully conveys the emotional power of the psychological and physical perils that can plague an immigrant’s passage. It’s a journey that, is worth taking once at Crane Arts,repeating – and restaging – again.”

‘Supper’ tells riveting stories of immigration, The Inquirer, Jim Rutter, June 30 2015  

“…Supper, People on the Move was a well thought out and efficaciously executed choreographic project. Cardell offered an authentic gift that was both intense and honest. She delivered a splendid work that called for us to carefully examine the paths people take to conquer new horizons. A true masterpiece, Supper was spearheaded by a bold choreographer.”

SUPPER, PEOPLE ON THE MOVE (Cardell): A Topic Tackled with Great Success, The Dance Journal. Gregory King.  June 28, 2015  

“Excerpts explores the potential of visual art as source material for choreography in works created between 2004-2012, however the real showcase is Cardell’s artistry.  From two-dimensional images, she builds worlds that move before us, thanks, in no small part, to a cast of formidable dancers who surrender entirely to her vision. Like words that jump from the page, the movement leaps from the performers’ bodies into ours, and we cannot help but be changed in the process. “

thINKingDANCE, Moving Pictures: Cardell Dance Theater’s ‘Excerpts’. Carolyn Merritt. Mar. 22, 2012

“Philly PARD’s Mixed Grille offers four delectable works from a most formidable cast of Philadelphia dancers “The evening started with the audience sitting in an intimate space with the arrival of trays of votive candles and even a birthday cake to the opening of Flicker, a solo performed by Bethany Formica with choreography from co-creators Silvana Cardell and Bethany Formica. As laughter filled the hall and the celebration of a birthday ensues, we are drawn in to the dichotomy of the celebration juxtaposed with an internal struggle. The votives are strewn across the floor as Bethany brilliantly dances between them. As she pauses and even balances just above the candles, one can feel the heat upon the skin and even perhaps the burn. The candles flicker and as the only light source, cast shadows, beautifully accenting the flawless movements executed by Bethany as she fully embodies her character as no one else can. With each passing between celebration and anguish, a series of candles are snuffed out. At times, Bethany is literally throwing herself at walls in an endless frenzy. From a sudden stillness, her body begins to writhers, at first playful, sexy and even taunting, then consumed with that emotional pain that transforms through her every limb.  Finally, with a burst of light from flash paper touched to a candle that wafts to the floor, the audience is left in the still of darkness.”

The Dance Journal. Steven Weisz. Nov. 13, 2011.

“Bethany Formica and Silvana Cardell brought us Flicker, which has previously seen the light through Philly PARD’s Mixed Grille series as well as Aquarius Era in Bulgaria.  Formica extinguishes many flames, the sole source of light in her solo work, as a marker of time—a passing of years.  Starting with a four-inch square piece of cake (laden with more candles than likely safe for fire code), she leaves her birthday table to sit and flip amongst the candles strewn about the floor.  Formica is, as always, most at home while upside down.  Next the wall buffets her back and forth to the now-waxy marley–a nervous side-effect of Formica’s normal razor-sharp precision. We are close to her, can smell the wicks burning, can see the sinew of her bandaged foot as it narrowly skirts the flame.  We are able to see less and less of Formica until, in a flash, she is gone.  It reminds me that dance is dangerous, that this field is intrinsically tied to aging, and that Formica continues to defy both of these culprits that can fell a career that relies on the body.” 

thINKingDANCE, Cooking, Cake and Conversation at the LAB. Anna Drozdowski, 2011.

“NOW! by Silvana Cardell was all about immediacy. She and her five dancers blocked and challenged, held and climbed over one another, as artist Jennifer Baker drew life-size impressions of them on six large easels. It was fascinating to see her stretch all over with her charcoal even as she watched and studied whatever phrases the dancers presented. Baker captured the whip-snap swing and sway of the choreography better than any words.”

Grace and Improvisation at Falls Bridge Dance Festival, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Merilyn Jackson. January 17, 2012

“Surreal doesn’t begin to describe it. SCRAP Performance Group’s world premiere Between the Pages envelops audience members in another world the moment they step over the threshold of St. Andrew’s Chapel. Video clips are set over doorways and into stained-glass panels. A table is prepared for a picnic. Four dancers are statue-still in middle of the church as audience members file in and find seats in the built-in pews off to the sides. Soon the lights dim and an accordion player crosses across the sanctuary. The dancers begin walking, stretching, jumping as a strobe light blinks on and off. Choreographed by Myra Bazell and Silvana Cardell, the movement also has a dancer rolling precariously on a set of stairs, and a man performing a lot of balancing tricks on a small wheeled cart. The multimedia experience is spectacular. The music, lighting and especially the video installation are fascinating, especially set against the elaborate carvings, gold leaf, paintings and stained glass of the church. That said, Between the Pages is not for everyone. It’s more than a little bit trippy, and some may be uncomfortable seeing such an edgy performance in a church.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Between the Pages.  Ellen Dunkel, Sept. 6, 2007.

“Silvana Cardell, Group Motion co-director, restaged excerpts from her Machinas Simples (2001). In its dark setting populated by machine-like denizens, it made me think of a police state. Figures are blankfaced, the moves are stripped down, often echoed through clean unisons.  Cardell defies physics with lifts in which the men hoist the women backward in momentary free floats, legs upward. She has dancers perch at the top of a steeply raked square where they use the momentum of falling to sweep their limbs like clock-hands. A swinging metal ball tethered overhead cuts swaths between the assembled dancers, who seem like sheep, easily divisible, going with the peculiar flow.”

Rich rewards from second DanceBoom! installment, The Philadelphia Inquirer. by Lisa Kraus. June 8, 2007.

“Machinas Simples,” choreographed by Silvana Cardell and danced by six members of the Group Motion Dance Company, returns to slightly more traditional dancing less obscured by multi media, successfully attaining a mood and relating an emotion through the use of a few props used to further express the ideas translated through motion, rather than obscure the dancers by creating confusion. The dancers, dressed all in white, transmit the feeling of a giant living machine, jump-starting and coughing to life amidst steam. Pistons pump, cogs turn and crankshafts roll as the dancers spark into motion in the first section, using their bodies to transmit a mechanical image. The next two sections express mood and emotion through a ramp used creatively to represent various motions of fear; falling, sliding and hanging off the edges, poised to let go, and the final section of “Maquinas Simples” reenacts the terror in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum,” as a giant silver wrecking ball swings through the dancers’ space of movement, creating a path of destruction put in motion by one of the dancers. This section does a very good job of representing the tick-tock of time, destruction and impending doom in an electric and machinic manner, while keeping the audience in aching suspense. “

‘DanceBOOM!’, Experiments With Media In  ‘Illusions Of Space’, The Bulletin.  Linsay Warner. June 8, 2007.

“Group Motion Dance Theater interprets, expands and transforms the music, melding dance, theater and the visual arts into an engaging and provocative performance experience. Known since its founding in 1968 as a pioneer in multi-media dance/theatre, this diverse company has toured the world and regularly contributed important work to the body of dance/theater pieces.  Group Motion’s Manfred Fischbeck and Silvana Cardell choreograph movement to chamber music of renowned composer George Crumb, as well as to a world premiere by Philadelphia composer David Ludwig. Watch the dance while the music is performed on stage by virtuoso guest guitarist William Anderson and the incomparable Network Ensemble, with video by Philadelphia artist Peter Price. Experience this exquisite performance – the result of accomplished artists from different genres coming together to create a brilliant new work.”

Quest, Martha Robinson. March 15, 2007.

“Cardell’s ‘Maquinas Simples,’ scored to live liquidy soundscapes by Fischbeck, uses geometric set pieces to carve out scary psychological territory. The dancers, in white gymnastic togs, move out of a group slab and hurl themselves across the floor or jump in each others’ arms and freeze in precarious positions. A square section of the floor is raised and the dancers have to keep moving on a severely slanted plane, perching and swaying against the slide. Then what looks like a wrecking ball swings down and the troupe has to dodge its circular patterns. The effect is hypnotic. Fischbeck’s joyous finale ‘Exitus’ liberates with ‘Denishawn’ style group circles and communal processionals in free-dance.”

ballet .Co. Lewis Whittington. September 2006.

Selected Bibliography

Stein, Jonathan. Silvana Cardell Teams Up with Blanka Zizka at Wilma Theater. ThinkingDance. 2020.

Maiolatesi, Graciella. United States of Urgency: Migrant Bodies on the Move. ThinkingDance. 2019.

Merritt, Carolyn. Moving Pictures: Cardell Dance Theater’s ‘Excerpts.’ ThinkingDance. 2012.