PROCESS // Massimiliano Balduzzi: Physical Training for Performers (Video #1)

VIDEO #1: "First Sequence"

Over the next three months, I will be posting six video documents of Massimiliano Balduzzi's solo physical training for performers. These videos document a research in solo physical training developed by Massimiliano Balduzzi over more than fifteen years. In them, Balduzzi is shown practicing a sequence of exercises/actions, integrating floor work and impulses/isolations, and finally putting all of these elements together in a session of "open work."

The videos were shot in February 2013 by Ben Spatz and Manuel de la Portilla at CAVE home of LEIMAY in Brooklyn, and edited by Spatz. Each video will be accompanied by a short text, which has been edited and redacted by Spatz from an extended interview with Balduzzi that took place on March 15th. In addition to being hosted by conectom and Vimeo, these video documents will also become part of the Routledge Performance Archive, an online database of multimedia performance materials intended for scholarly research.

For more information on Balduzzi's work, visit the website: www.massimilianobalduzzi.com.

Ben Spatz

TEXT #1: "Introduction"

by Massimiliano Balduzzi

This first exercise/action is called “going to the floor with the head.” That’s a literal translation of the Italian name. Some of the exercises/actions are named with a simple technical description, like that. Others are named for an image they clearly evoke. This exercise works on the principle of opposition. Something—or someone—brings you down, and something else pulls you up. Technically, it’s about finding the right kind of tension inside the body, what I call a “good tension.” This is a tension that comes from the principle of opposition. The exercise becomes an action when you start to ask: Why are you going down to the floor? Who is pushing you down? Or: Who is preventing you, blocking you, when you want to go down to the floor?

 

As you can see in the videos, sometimes I am more focused on the technical details, and sometimes I’m more free with the actions. My experience with this has also changed over the years that I’ve been practicing this training. Today, it’s more difficult for me to separate the technical exercise from the action. When I start to do the exercise, I immediately feel the associations. This is probably because I have practiced these exercises/actions for such a long time. When I’m teaching people this training for the first time, I can see that sometimes they just need to focus only on the technical part: to learn the shape or form of the exercise. Then, in other moments, I ask them to focus more on the action, on the association. It also depends on the individual performer. There are some performers who have more easy access to their internal world. But that kind of performer may be lacking in structure, in technique. They may not be able to repeat what they have done with precision.

 

In general, I always try to work on both of these at the same time: the exercise and the action. That’s the goal. In a performance, you always have a technical score, a structure, and you have to live inside of that. And this is what we do in life. In life, we are not split between the technical score and everything else. But as soon as we get into the studio, or onstage, we face a problem: How to move or sing and also to live in that thing—to experience inside the score.

 

Today, I am able to formalize my teaching. I know how to put together a sequence of demonstrations. The first three short videos show three or four exercises each. First, I show each exercise, and then I put them together into a sequence. The fourth video shows the work on impulses, which is essential to me. The fifth video shows the work on the floor, because I need that element to build the final sequence. From this practice, this repetition, this formality, then I can play more freely in the last sequence, the sixth video. Because the videos show a demonstration of training, it may feel as if the elements are sequential—in a necessary sequence. They are not. In a class or workshop, I teach one exercise, then a second, and I immediately ask the participants to put those two into a little sequence. It’s never just the exercises. From the beginning, there is a seed of what you see in the last video, where all the elements are freely combined.

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