Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interview with Enzo Celli of Celli Contemporary Ballet

Enzo Celli believes in the group – the swooping form of a flock of birds as they navigate through thick air. He also believes in the individual; a dancer should be recognized as a person first, a part of the company second. In this, Celli is complicated. In his deep love for dance, Celli is clear.

During my interview with dancer and choreographer for the Italy-based company, Celli Contemporary Ballet, Enzo Celli found constant reprieve from a list of questions in the encouraging smile of his wife, Elisabetta Minutoli. Minutoli is one of 13 dancers in Celli’s company. When Celli teaches class, she is at the front performing the movement (it never could be marking on her endlessly languid form). Below is an interview with Enzo Celli, with a few remarks from Minutoli.

This interview has been edited, with permission, to reflect Celli’s meaning. Editing was done to a minimal extent, and in some instances I have kept his wording because it is simply more poetic than what is grammatically correct.


Peridance Capezio Center We can start off with meme….

Enzo Celli Meme arrived from the concept of a man who studied social science, Richard Dawkins. He said that meme is for the social science like the gene is for the biologic science. For instance, how Italian people have white skin and everybody is not so high, how Italians talk and move with their hands and have a talent for music. Dawkins calls this meme.
(Read a full description here)

So I use this name, meme, because one of the most important issues for me is to translate the dancer as an artist onto the stage. For me, every dancer is a soloist onstage. And my mission is to show this to the audience. It is important that you recognize everyone as an individual, and after that, you recognize them as a dancer. In this way it is important that I don’t change their personality for the stage.

In this way I also put meme into my class. When I say in the class “I don’t like that everything is so clean,” it is because I believe details in the movement are up to the dancers to decide. I give you the gene of the choreography. I give you the dynamic. But I like detail that is born from each individual dancer.

P.C.C. Is it different to dance with your wife? Easier to create a relationship onstage with someone that you know so well?

E.C. Dancing with my wife totally changed my career. I’m very lucky because my wife is probably the artist that I respect most in the world. I have a good respect for her personality, her story, her capacities. Working with her… it is the greatest stimulus that I have in my life. And this stimulus totally changed my career.

P.C.C. What was your career like before meeting (your wife) Elisabetta?

E.C. I didn’t believe in myself like she believes in me. Meeting her, four years ago, improved my vision of dance. Because she knows me, she probably knows me better than I do, so I can’t bluff with her. In this way, I have to improve myself as a teacher and as a choreographer every day.

By the way, that’s very difficult too, because we live together. It’s not so easy…

Elisabetta Minutoli: No, it’s not so easy

(don’t worry, they’re smiling, a connection and mutual understanding passing between the coupe)

E.C. She’s my wife in the studio and out of the studio. When we’re in the studio I have to remember that she is an artist and I have to respect this.

P.C.C. Do you work together or is it ‘Enzo: the Choreographer”?

E.C. I am the choreographer, she is the dancer.

P.C.C. (To Minutoli) Do you want to choreograph?

E.M. I’m trying to do something, but I try in another situation, not with him. I try to create something that is all mine. Of course I am influenced by him, but that’s okay because he is a master (of his craft).

P.C.C. (To Enzo) How do you choreograph?
E.C. It depends. When I perform, it is total improvisation. I put myself in very difficult situations to improvise. But the dancers don’t improvise.

P.C.C. Why not?

E.C. It’s an issue of meme. When we are creating the movement we are improvising and after, we translate this improvisation into choreography.

We have another process, too. When we are in the studio we create the choreography, film it, and we have an archive of movement. I tell the dancers to choose from that archive what they think is best for them.

It starts out as an experiment. I think that it is the greatest strength of the company. The dancer is an artist. I like when I see that they create another movement from my movement. It is amazing. It is a constant growth.

P.C.C. Whom do you admire most as a choreographer?

E.C. Nathan Trice. Absolutely. He is a poet. I believe the most important thing for the new generation (of contemporary choreographers) is to create work for the same people that go to the cinema to watch a movie. I believe it’s important for contemporary dancers to open our vision of dance and try to work for the common people. I believe that Nathan trice does this work.

P.C.C. When I interviewed Nathan Trice for the Periblog last week, I asked him if it was enough for the choreographer to like a dance that they make, even if the audience dislikes it. He said that this was selfish. How do you feel?

I believe that when you go on stage you have the responsibility of that stage. An artist has to be honest. This is the most important thing. Last week, my wife and I performed a duet and I started to cry during this duet, because it was (an) honest (reaction). So in that situation, it seems (as though) I make the work for me. But it’s not true, because I’m living in that moment and the audience is living in that moment with me.

P.C.C. If you had 1 million dollars, what would you do with it?  

E.C. I would love to give students the opportunity to learn dance for free. I would love to give job opportunities. Economic opportunities. A lot of young dancers stop dancing because they have to work. I believe that it is not good for New York, for the world, if a dancer has to lose their talent because they have to do another job.

P.C.C. What are three things that you think are beautiful.

My wife.
The Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Coming up: exclusive interview with Enzo Celli

Enzo Celli's Guest Artist Series at Peridance beings September 7th- October 12th.
Peridance anticipates this exciting workshop with an exclusive interview with the choreographer on Monday, August 27th.

Send in any questions you want Celli to answer!

If you want to know more about the artist you can visit his website,
you can attend his show at the Between the Seas Festival!

Celli is a profound mover and choreographer, and this interview is sure to be a deep one (but don't worry, there will be giggles as well)!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Interview with Nathan Trice of nathantrice / RITUALS

Nathan Trice is filling our studios in the afternoon this week. He and his company nathantrice / RITUALS are here giving all that they have got and hoping that workshop participants do the same. Following rehearsal this Wednesday, Trice spoke with me about his thoughts about his identity as a human being, his company's performance this weekend, and a possible 'made for TV' show.

Peridance Capezio Center How's your workshop going?
Nathan Trice It's good. Class was great. The students seem hungry, so I'm happy about that.

P.C.C. What are you focusing on for this workshop?
N.T. I just want them to feel good and breathe. I want them to find a deeper alignment between matter and breath, and of course have a good time with it, to just relax. My job is to break (the tension) down.

P.C.C. Describe your signature move
N.T. Undulating and rippling arms

P.C.C. Who do you admire as a dance artist in New York?
N.T. Ryoji Sasamoto. He's one of my dancers. 

P.C.C. Why?
N.T. He is a bit surreal. His relationship with space is surreal.

P.C.C. What does that look like?
N.T. He looks like his is constantly dissolving and forming in space.

P.C.C. When do we get to see him (and the rest of your company) next?
N.T. We have a performance this Friday, August 10th, at this space called FreeCandy.  
This is going to be our third episode at this space. The episodes are part of a project called Strange Love, which is about courtship, intimacy and love, and how four couples deal with those things.

P.C.C. Can you explain more about the project?
N.T. I've been working on Strange Love about 4 years now. We created an episodic performance series which we perform once a month at FreeCandy. I wanted to do something different, rather than just have a performance one weekend and then just be done with it.

P.C.C. What is the thing you define yourself as first.
N.T. I am an organism in constant process, In constant expiration. I'm always exploring the process of how things are happening. 

P.C.C. What was your first job in new york?
N.T. I was working for these two Italians who rented out an apartment building and ran a delivery service out of it. I thought it was quite entertaining. 

P.C.C. And how did you transition to becoming a dancer?
N.T. Well first, the restaurant moved into kiosks in Bryant Park. And then I auditioned for (the dance company) Momix.

P.C.C. What was your worst audition experience? 
N.T. It wasn't really 'the worst,' but it was a scholarship audition for the (Alvin) Ailey program. My intention at that time wasn't to go to Ailey. I auditioned as moral support for a friend. I was standing next to Matthew Rushing, a principal dancer at Ailey, and he had had 10 years training, and I had just been training for a year and a half, so it was embarrassing, But I didn't care. I just got up and did it for the heck of it. And I ended up getting the scholarship.

P.C.C. Any other notable audition experiences?
N.T. I didn't audition a lot. I waited until I was confident in myself. I knew that auditions would make me really insecure, so I said 'let me wait until I feel really in my body.' 

P.C.C. And at what age was that?
N.T. Oh, we’re getting into ages now.

P.C.C. Sorry... 
N.T. No, it's not a problem. I started dancing at age 24. I was in the Navy at the time and when I started (dancing) I had two more years in the military.

P.C.C. That sounds like a 'made for TV movie'
N.T. You know, Debbie Allen wanted to make a television series about it. But, no.....

P.C.C. Have you ever said there was something you would never do as a choreographer?
N.T. There's not much I wouldn't do, except make something that was empty of substance. 

P.C.C. If you make a piece and you're satisfied with it, is that enough?
N.T. No. If I make it public, and I'm satisfied with it and that's it, that's self-absorbed. There's no consideration for other humans. We have to spend time on audience cultivation. It is (the choreographer's) responsibility to touch your audience with what you have to say. 

Find out more about nathantrice / RITUALS' upcoming performance here
and Peridance Capezio Center has MORE amazing workshops throughout the year. Learn about them on our website!

Monday, August 6, 2012

What do you want to ask Nathan Trice?

Exciting news! I will be interviewing Nathan Trice this week, and I want to know what questions you have for him!

Nathan Trice's workshop, August 6th to August 10th, promises to be an amazing opportunity for Peridance students. A New York based dancer/choreographer Mr. Trice has trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and with Aulani Chun in San Diego. Read more of his bio here.

Post your questions on the Peridance Capezio Center page and view his answers later in the week on this blog!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Class with Sean Curran

Sean Curran used to have to remind himself that dancing was meant to be a joyful experience. "I used to tell the dancers to point their toes!" Curran said in the middle of his weeklong workshop at Peridance Capezio Center yesterday. Now, he says, "I just tell them to smile." With this said, Curran beams with the giddy grin of the Cheshire Cat. The class responds with wide smiles of their own. In four days, Curran has obviously built a rapport and healthily silly relationship with his students. The class is eager to approach dance according to his requests, which include smiling, yawning like you just woke up, and laughing on command. This last task revealed the trust that Curran fosters in his classes. I was taking the workshop for the first time yesterday, and found that laughter was stuck somewhere inside my chest when he asked us to laugh. It wasn't going to happen. I was so caught up in my own judgements of myself that this simple task- one that probably is enjoyable to the participants- would not come naturally to me. I write this not to chastise myself, but rather to explain the true enjoyment that the students seemed to experience at Peridance this week. They were smiling and laughing heartily. And, possibly because their contentment spread all the way to the last tips of the hands and feet, they were pointing their toes, too.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello from the new Peridance Blogger

Well, 2 weeks in to working at Peridance Capezio Center, I think that now might be the appropriate time to introduce myself. My name is Sofia Strempek and I am new on staff at Peridance. I'm going to be taking over the blog, updating it as much as possible with anything and everything exciting happening at Peridance!

I've written for my college newspaper's Arts Section, am published in Salt Lake City's dance journal loveDANCEmore and kind of love everything about dance (Saba's intro Modern class outside the office is making me smile so much right now! Those students are so amazing to watch move so bravely and with such emotion, when they have hardly ever danced before!). I majored in Modern Dance at the University of Utah, moved to New York the day after, and 2 months later I'm here. And I'm sooo excited to be working at Peridance.

I want this blog to be as interactive as possible. I want you to let me know what you want to know about. I want you to tell me what's working, what's not working. This blog is for YOU! You want me to interview someone? Research something for you? I'm in. Let me know. You can always email me at peridanceny@gmail.com

Let's make this fun. First up- taking Sean Curran's amazing workshop. Look for some words on that experience later this week.