Week 16 | Artist 16: Created to Create 2016 | Massimiliano Balduzzi, Performer/Director/Teacher
Massimiliano was born in a small village in the Dolomites. For the past twenty years, frequently under the mentorship of Stefano Vercelli and Anne Zenour, he has dedicated himself to the practice of physical and vocal training for performers. In 2006, he spent six months in Bali studying Balinese dance and voice work. Massimiliano moved to New York City in 2008. Recent collaborations include Arturo Vidich’s Bodyisland and 142241 (Abrons Arts Center), Helga Davis’Cassandra (Park Avenue Armory, BRIC), Daria Fain and Robert Kocik’s E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E, Vibe and Brooklyn Rezound and Vanessa Anspaugh’s The end of men. Massimiliano also continues to work as an independent performer and teacher. Over the past three years, his solo performance research, DOIEB SI TAU, language for a requiem, has been presented in NYC at NYLA, CPR, Judson Church, Rubin Museum, CAVE, in Philadelphia at FringeArts, and in Los Angeles at Pieter. In February 2016, DOIEB SI TAU, language for a requiem, premiered in Italy and England. Massimiliano has led master classes at LINCOLN CENTER Educational Project, CUNY Brooklyn College, CUNY College of Staten Island, PARK AVENUE ARMORY, Emerson College (Boston) and University of Huddersfield (England) and University of the Arts (Philadelphia). Massimiliano was a Movement Research (2011) and a Fresh Tracks, NYLA (2014) artist in residence.
Where were you born?
Where do you work?
Currently, I am collaborating in three different performance projects with artists in NYC: Vanessa Anspaugh, Daria Fain and Robert Kocik (The Commons Choir) and Kora Radella and Matty Davis (Boomerang). Also, I am traveling internationally (Mexico, Italy, England) to teach workshops for my physical and vocal training and to present my solo DOIEB SI TAU: language for a requiem.
What fuels your desire to act? What is behind your need to create?
Over the course of twenty years of practice, I have learned a few things and I believe these things have to go back to the world in order to complete their natural circle. Performing and teaching are ways to consume publicly my knowledge and give back its essence to the world. Teaching is also a way to learn what I don’t yet know and creating is working with my fantasies and demons-to give them some dedicated time, so that they don’t bite unexpectedly.
How did your training in Italy inform your acting/directing?
The past twenty years of my life have been dedicated to the creation of a precise, rigorous, and passionate physical and vocal training for performers.
My approach to theatrical training is both physical and vocal. I instruct physical actions and vocal actions separately, at first, to dig into the details and challenges of each field of exploration. Then, they are trained together to experience how the movement and voice affect each other and come together in the creation of a character and in the work on a theatrical scene.
The training I have developed fosters a particular density in the body, (including voice) something that we usually experience in the extraordinary events of our life, when the body is called to react with total awareness. This training, through precise exercises/actions that generate a certain amount of "good" tension allows a total awareness or density to inhabit the body on stage in the climax of a dramatic action, and also in the smallest pedestrian movements all the way down to stillness.
In order to find and practice this density, I have created a series of precise and diverse physical actions (various ways of walking, jumping, going on the floor, etc.) to train the perfomer and to function like a language to enable communication between me and the students and among the students themselves. The students are encouraged to learn principles like impulse and stop, to experience balance and weight, to control noise and breath, to develop stamina and strength while building and repeating a sequence of these particular physical actions. Step by step, this practice integrates a precise approach to physicality and movement with a performer’s “inner life” of association and intention. More complex actions involving pairs or the whole group can also be brought into the sequences of the performers, allowing them to develop relationships and learn how to give attention to the exercises, to the space, and the partners at the same time. In this way, the work becomes a tool that the individual performer and/or the group can use to approach the performative work.
Describe this period of your life/process and name most influential teachers. What aspects of this training shaped you as an artist?
My approach has been deeply influenced by my relationships with Stefano Vercelli and Anne Zenour, both of whom worked extensively with Jerzy Grotowski in the 1970/80's. Particularly, my ten year collaboration with Anne Zenour led me to discover that my practice integrates many aspects of the performer’s life: offers the possibility to achieve physical and vocal mastery, helps the emotional balancing, and challenges the personal and artistic grounding of the practitioner.
In 1995, I was a student at the University of Bologna and Stefano and Anne were invited to lead a weekly training for students interested in theater. At that time I was 19, just moved out of my parents home in a small village in the Dolomites and had no idea of what was involved in any sort of actor’s training. But, since the first class, I felt a sense of belonging I had never felt before. Our Wednesday afternoon meetings with them became the event I was waited for all week. I then followed them separately for years, training in physical and vocal work.
In the same years, I followed the work of Mamadou Dioume and studied voice with Imke Buchholz. In 2006, I lived in Bali for six months and studied Balinese dance with master I Made Bukel and Balinese singing with master I Njomn Tchandri. The experience in Bali deepened my sense of musicality and showed me the incredible results one can achieve in working with restless repetition. In 2008, I moved to NYC and began working in the downtown theater/dance scene. Since then, I have tested my training in many different collaborations with artist involved in the contemporary performing art realm and have continued my personal artistic research. During the past three years, I’ve been working on a solo research project around the idea of requiem. This past February I presented the last incarnation of this research, DOIEB SI TAU: language for a requiem, in Italy and England.
What scares you in your creative process?
I don’t think there is anything scary about my creative process. My concerns are more related to the struggle I often meet in trying to make my life as an artist sustainable.
What are you inspired by?
I am inspired by the wisdom that comes from experience and by the boldness that specifically belong to the youth. I praise the beauty that can reorganize the world and I admire whoever is able to see this beauty everywhere, at anytime.
What does your creative daily routine look like when you work?
My work has changed over the course of two decades. During my apprenticeship in Italy I had a quite fixed routine: I was training body and voice, Monday through Friday, (sometimes the weekend too) from morning until night. Since I moved to NYC, everything has changed. My schedule is a bit different every day. I go from incredibly busy times with hours of rehearsals everyday, to periods of no artistic commitment that I spend organizing the upcoming work, researching for a new project, applying for residencies and taking care of myself: running, spending time with friends, reading and dealing with this person named Massimiliano. I try to have a solitary moment of prayer every morning before getting up and every night before falling asleep. And I am trying, gently but steadily, to sacrifice everything that stands in between me and a better version of myself.
What are the difficulties an artist faces who works in a different country and language than his culture and native language?
I moved to NYC in 2008 and it took me some time to get adjusted to the city. I have experienced difficulties that many have experienced in moving to a city like NY. How to find a job? How to find a place to live? How to get a working visa? These were my concerns at the beginning. Meanwhile, I met and became friends with artists that introduced me to the downtown dance/theater scene and began sharing my creative work through collaborations and solo research.
Coming to America meant to challenge a sort of unconscious comfort I lived in when I was in Italy. NYC and the experiences I lived through in the city disproved some of the strongest beliefs I had and forced me to question my social, cultural, religious and political status. How do I reflect my practice and the complexity of the world I am currently living in? How does the experience of (privileged) immigrant inform and change my work? These are the questions I am facing right now. It is not easy, but I am fortunate enough to have the time and space to keep searching for answers.
What is the most difficult thing for your when working with self? Do you have a strategy to overcome this?
It’s not always easy to spend the whole day with Massimiliano! Maybe the most difficult thing is still to stay gentle when I feel I would like to escape “him”. I am trying to take care of my body, to keep it safe and healthy. To have space for dreaming, without letting the dreams take over.
In 2016, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2016.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2016
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.