PROCESS // Massimiliano Balduzzi: Physical Training for Performers (Video #4)

 

VIDEO #4: "Floor Work"

 

This is the fourth of six new 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 #4: "Principles"

by Massimiliano Balduzzi

Impulse and stop come together in my work. There is a strong focus on the beginning and the end of each action. If there is no impulse at the beginning, it’s difficult to find a stop. And if you don’t have the stop, then it’s difficult to find the impulse to start again. I also work with opposition. That’s another tool to create a different presence, to expand that presence. If you have to go right, you start from the left. There’s a hint of moving in one direction before you go to the other. I remember being in Bali and reading about that, and then, when I got back to Italy, really trying to work specifically on that. An action that starts from the opposite direction.

In my training, we are asking how to make each action a little bit bigger. There’s a dramatic quality. It’s clearly a choice, and it’s also embodied in myself now, a lot of work on that. To make it a little bit more expanded. It’s not television or a movie, where you have to do less, because the camera is so close. In my training, it’s like having a body that doesn’t end where your physical body ends. But I’m not esoteric in my work. I’m really practical when I talk to my actors. For example, I say: If you bring your hands to your face, you should leave a layer of nothingness in between your hands and your face. Even if you touch your skin, think that there is something in between, another layer.

There is also a principle that is common to many disciplines: to find a way of doing that doesn’t hurt the body. Something that makes the body healthier. Not that the body doesn’t hurt. Actually, it did hurt a lot, at the beginning especially. But there should be a harmony and a healthy approach to the body. The work should be beneficial to the body. Sometimes, as a performer, because you are at service to a director or a show, you forget about your body. In order to get to the date of the show, we forget about the performers. If you are working for someone else, they may tell you: “You have five minutes to search, and then an hour to follow my directions.” And maybe your body is not ready to do that, but you have to do it. I think that, in the best scenario, that is not true. There are challenges, of course. You have to be at work. But a good master will always be patient with your body. He or she will challenge your body to make you less lazy, or less comfortable, but not to hurt your body.

I like theatre. I like performing. I like directing. I like the art form. I like when someone is able to say a beautiful text in a beautiful way. I like beauty in general. But not at the cost of seeing this person out of his or her body, or getting hurt. I’m still challenging my students. But not at that cost. At this moment, I am paying more attention to the healing potential of my training. As a paradox, or as a provocation, I can say: The actor, the performer, is that person who is willing to take the risk to be not so healthy—to sacrifice himself, herself, in front of someone. But I think we should find another way. I think we should be healthy onstage. I am interested in translating the principles of my training into life. If I think about balance—to be in balance in every situation—I can put that into my body. I’m falling, and while I’m falling, I try to be in balance. But this can also be applied to life. Falling with balance. So it becomes a work of life.

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