in the Category: art
Dance is so much about falling into yourself, exploring as much as you can
The digital atmosphere makes it hard to connect on a deeper and more human level but we are sure grateful it exists! Although intended to meet up in real life at Bozar, this time we met through the force of wifi with our New Master; Michele Rizzo, to talk about life and searching for your own way in the dance world. Themes we've explored earlier during our visit to the exhibition Danser Brut, in order to prepare us for this digital date <3
Interview by Laura-Andréa Callewaert
The photos are a mixture of screenshots of the interview and exhibition views and works from Danser Brut
Tell us about yourself!
Where do I start? This is hard (laughs). You don't want it to be too obvious or too boring, but in the end, it's always kind of boring. I come from the South of Italy but I relocated to the Netherlands in 2007 where I started choreography, and later on I studied a Masters degree in Visual Arts. I've been based in Holland since then but I'm often travelling around. I'm a choreographer and I make performances, and now I’m exploring the possibility of showing work within the context of visual arts. Let's say that my practice also embraces other forms of media including sculpture. My main focus has been the idea of ecstatic dance as it happens in a club environment, intended as something transformative that sculpts the identity of the dancer. I'm working around identity politics and concepts such as transcendence and transformation. But, to keep it short, I work with movement.
When did you know you wanted to enrol in dance?
I started dancing relatively late, when I was eighteen. I started with ballet and then I moved to Rome to study architecture. At first, it was more of an impulse to discover my body and my sexuality. Where I come from it's difficult to be a queer person and to have the opportunity to discover yourself fully and freely. I think that my interest to get into dance is related to that desire to get in touch with myself.
In 2007 I cut the cord and decided to follow my passion and study choreography in Holland. There is a great school for choreography; it’s a very open institution to produce your own aesthetic and research with a different approach to dance.
I noticed it was important for me to feel free during the time period where we were locked up. The Danser Brut exhibition also examines different forms of expression of the body, the face and the hands as a translation of our being-in-the-world. Did you dance enough through the quarantine?
Totally. I kept on dancing. I live in Amsterdam with four flatmates and we had a lot of fun.
Your Higher performance is such a strict routine. Danser Brut attempts to reveal the connection between dance and involuntary or repetitive movements. What does this mean to you?
I’m very bad at having any routine, actually. I waste a lot of time, I watch and read a lot of crap. I struggle to keep my exercise routine for example. And even with eating, I often forget to eat because I’m so busy all the time. But since I've been back in Italy I've been eating way better. The food is just too good here (laughs). But the point of Higher is that even though every dancer is performing the same routine, each of them embodies it in a different way. What you start to notice is actually nothing but their differences, even though they are performing the same exact thing, which is something that interests me a lot.
It also looks a bit like tarantism where dancing comes from mania. Is dancing a need to process things mentally?
Definitely. Tarantism comes from ancient times where this little spider was used to give people a feeling of intoxication and make them dance in a certain way. It’s typical of the region where I come from in Italy. Dancing is very important to process trauma for sure, but primarily it’s a way to understand and to get to know your body. I always like to think of Higher as a sculptural work in which the dance is the agent that is sculpting the identity of the dancer. Why we dance and especially within this specific practice of ecstatic dancing. It's about getting into trance, and dancing for hours develops your movement identity somehow. You get to know it and then you nurture it through experience and let it transform slowly. You start to notice how you embody certain patterns more than others: if you know the way you move, you get to know yourself.
You often link your work to club culture. Nowadays it’s almost forbidden to dance. How do you see the evolution of club culture after these pandemic times?
It’s definitely very frustrating that we aren’t allowed to dance. It’s difficult to predict anything like that. But besides the fact that it’s frustrating, it also gives us a chance to reflect on it. Why is it so important to us? Also to evaluate how it has been available according to a certain privilege for example. How can we make a better club when we start again? A club that is more inclusive, more aware of consent, representation of artists from different backgrounds. To stop something always promotes a desire to start over, perhaps in a better way. This is what I hope for. It’s certainly something that we have taken for granted. It became more about consumerism, and maybe we forgot how important it is in our life to be able to move, dance, express ourselves.
What would you be if you weren't a choreographer?
When I was a kid I wanted to become an actor, but I was a terrible actor. I took theatre courses in school but I was too shy to be an actor. The fact that I discovered dance says a lot about that because dance is not just about projecting outwards the way acting is. Dance is so much about falling into yourself, exploring as much as you can. How you deal with the music, the crowd, yourself, your body. Or I wanted to be a veterinarian. I wanted to deal with animals and not with humans (laughs).