VIDEO #6: "Open Work"
VIDEO #6: "Open Work" with audio commentary
This is the last 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.
The following is a slightly condensed transcript of the audio commentary from Balduzzi and Spatz, which can be heard in the second video above.
[BEN SPATZ] There are two things that I thought we could talk about while we’re watching the video. The first is a technical description of what you’re doing, what we’re looking at, things that you notice. Giving a context and a frame for what we’re looking at. And the other one is, specifically, I’m really interested in moments that “work” for you. Where you feel something good is happening, or something “right.” Something is working well in the training, in the work, in the demonstration. I think it’s really interesting that we now have video, and we have the possibility to look at those moments, and look at them closely, and say: Well, what really is happening there?
[MASSIMILIANO BALDUZZI] Yes. I want to soon say, in this moment, there’s a little tension in the left elbow. It’s a clear indication that, specifically that day, and probably because of the camera, it was a little bit more difficult for me to let go completely. Even if I ran for a few minutes before starting the sequence. In the video we see only a few seconds of running. So, overall, in the video, there is this tension that sometimes appears. I will point it out: In the face, or in some parts of the body.
At the beginning, I am now in this moment repeating the sequence as I built it in the other videos. I tried to stay in the order of exercises as I showed them in the other five shorter videos. Probably the beginning is a little bit more technical, and then there’s a second part of this video where I let myself go a little bit.
The two knees went on the floor in a different time [at different times]. The base of the exercise is putting down the knees together on the floor [at the same time].
This is what I call the “knight,” the “chevalier.” It’s an exercise that’s coming from my practice with Balinese dance.
Impulse and stop.
Here again the left elbow is bent.
This exercise is “going down with the head to the floor” [shown in the first video]. It’s put in sequence and repeated, and so it becomes a way of walking, and that’s also a possibility inside the training. And this whole moment, more rapid, was interesting to me. There’s something in the rapidity that brings away a lot of psychological fog, and the action becomes very, very clear. The interesting [question] is how to bring that [quality] to a slower movement.
Again, a way to go on the floor, repeated, becomes a way to move, and also reinforce the action.
This running was… There was something in the way, in the balance of the body, the push towards the internal side of the room, towards the center. There was a clear action to me. You don’t know exactly why he is running, the performer, but clearly—at least for me—I see that he is running for something.
What is changing for you as a performer in that moment? What’s different about what you’re doing? Where does it come from?
I think there are moments in which you don’t think exactly anymore about the exercise, the action, and you are completely within the action.
When you say the action—also the association? Is it that you’re in an imaginary world?
I think that the association, or the imaginary world, is really a personal experience. As much as I can try to be specific in describing my own experience, it may be very different for someone else. I know there are people who are really visual in their imagination. I am not. I’m more “sensitive” in terms of distance, rhythm, direction. So if I play with my body in direction, distance, and rhythm, things appear on a factual level. I don’t “see” them. But I have a clear sense of distance. Like, I’m jumping here. It is… I don’t know [whether] it’s important for me to describe it [the association], to try to pass what is my way…
It is a kind of going back and forth. There are moments in which I am more thinking and specifically doing the action, the exercise, and moments that I “live” the action. I’m embodying the action or the action is living inside me. Sometimes it’s very rare, sometimes it appears more clearly for a more long time. This is a moment.
There’s some tension in the shoulders, in the lips, here.
This is a moment where there’s a possibility to go from a bigger space to a smaller space, or a bigger situation and a smaller situation. To play with the distance. Something becomes very specific for the performer, towards his hair, and then he’s traveling again and he can travel in the woods or on a long, long journey in the outside. And abruptly, or all of a sudden, finding himself in a little room, alone, or in front of one person. And again, falling in front of an audience of two hundred people, or falling towards a lover—it’s very different.
And this is association.
I feel sometimes they come from the work: I’m starting to do something and the association appears. Some other times it’s more technical: I choose to do something and I’m searching for that with my body, through the actions and the exercises that I put in sequence.
This little moment, it’s a part that is not really part of the sequence. There’s a way of going back down [onto] the floor, and then this specific kind of “soldier” movement [while lying] on the back. I also think it’s a sign that the performer starts to go somewhere. Because something appears that is not really part of the sequence, but that can stay in, and then he goes back to the sequence. So there’s a rigor that is not a prison. A rigor that opens towards freedom.
And again the rapidity. For me in particular, the rapidity helps. Because I have a lot of energy and sometimes it’s just a need to discharge it, to go to another place. It’s a bit of a comfort zone, but if I use it in balance, with responsibility, it’s a good place. The face gets more relaxed. Especially on a day like this, knowing that I was recorded. There was extra tension.
This is quite interesting because it’s “iconic” in a way that nothing else is—really making images. Symbols.
It’s still the work on impulses, impulses with the arms, with the hands. But clearly, if I put my index finger, as I did, on my mouth, there’s a clear meaning. It’s true, it becomes iconic. I feel that because we are living in a world that is so overcharged by images, and we are very much overwhelmed by images, we become… I have a sense that I grew with a body that is “iconic” somehow. I learned through iconic images. It is an interesting study.
And what’s the place of those kinds of images, really clear iconic images, in this kind of dynamic training.
There’s a clear parallel with certain rituals. But I also think about pop culture, the icons of my own experience. My village is full of icons, my personal life.