(Cover Photo: Tony Rizzi. Photo courtesy of CK Communications Group)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
Tony Rizzi and the Bad Habits
"BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER (WORKING WITH WILLIAM FORSYTHE)"
at The Dance Complex at Canal District Kendall
October 28, 2022 through October 30, 2022
(Contact Venue for Exact Times)
The Dance Complex @ Canal District Kendall
650 East Kendall Street, Cambridge, MA.
For Tickets and Information contact eventbrite.com
Boston born and trained dancer/choreographer Tony Rizzi along with his company the Bad Habits will perform "BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER (WORKING WITH WILLIAM FORSYTHE)" a lecture/performance about the Ballet Frankfurt and its legendary director William Forsythe.
Set to take place October 28th through the 30th at the Complex at Canal in Cambridge, these performances are presented as part of The Dance Complex’s DIY Performance Series.
Tony Rizzi grew up and attended Dedham High School – he says his mother would occasionally take him to dance nights at the VFW in Dedham and he and his sister would dance.
"It was the time of disco and my sister and I would go out there and do some disco dancing," Rizzi says. "Then I went to Chicago and then onto Frankfurt."
Rizzi trained at the Boston Ballet School for 4 years before joining Ballet Frankfurt in 1985, where he became one of William Forsythe’s main dancers and collaborators over the next two decades.
When Rizzi first learned of the job at Ballet Frankfurt, it was described as if it would be like, "joining some kind of circus group."
"I was told I would be singing and dancing and, sure enough, I was up there on stage doing 'Nutcracker' and I was dressed like an insect, in the main role of a bumblebee," Rizzi says.
Some of Rizzi’s previous work includes “Firstext” in 1995 at the Royal Ballet London where Rizzi co-choreographed with William Forsythe whose legacy Rizzi now celebrates in "BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER."
In Osaka and Tokyo Japan, Rizzi choreographed and performed in an opera by Ryuichi Sakamoto. In 2009, Rizzi choreographed and performed in the musical “Cabaret” which was directed by Micheal Simon.
Other credits include works at the Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet Kiel, Theatre am Gaertnerplatz, Djazz-ex in Den Haag, Scapino Ballet in Rotterdam and Ballet Frankfurt.
Through this lecture/performance, Rizzi will share his experiences working with Forsythe, allowing audiences to gain a deeper understanding of the wide range of works that led Ballet Frankfurt to become a world renowned troupe.
Yet what was it that inspired Rizzi to coordinate and perform this tribute to Forsythe?
"I like looking at what got us to this place and that was working at the Frankfurt Ballet," Rizzi says. 'It was a very new experience in dance at the time and that was because of the way we were making art at that time. We had 13 people of color and that was because we sought the best dancers – color didn’t even enter into the equation."
One of the great lessons Rizzi recalls from his time with Forsythe was in the approach, "There should be no fear on how to let go of certain traditions that come with running a ballet company."
"We watched so many hours of footage that he allowed us access to," Rizzi recalls. "It was really nice to watch these videos and in the space and watching from a distance for hours to just be the air in the room. So much feeling."
(Photo: Tony Rizzi. Photo courtesy of CK Communications Group)
In an interview, Forsythe once said “I have a company of comedians who can dance really well.”
Rizzi recalls being described as the "Woody Allen" of the ballet company and describes how, in the creative environment while working with Forsythe, "things happened organically and intuitively."
"We were all allowed, as dancers, to be creative and to really let our own ego pop out," Rizzi says. "It wasn't just sitting back and listening to the master talk. It was 'you work on something over there' while "you work on something else over there.' In other groups that was the kind of thing that could get you fired. Here, it was encouraged. It was celebrated. It was like that. It was fun."
Rizzi and his company The Bad Habits continue Forsythe's legacy as they interweave stage performance with videos from archival footage of Ballet Frankfurt and The Forsythe Company to create a live event that gives insight into the mysterious emergence of art.
Rizzi and The Bad Habits use humor to tell stories and to reflect on the key impulses that contributed to the uniqueness, magic and myth of Forsythe and his dancers.
"Somebody could be goofing around in a corner off tot he side one moment - and we'd all pick up on that and then, in the next, we'd all be building off of it, and doing the more serious, hard work. We laughed a lot. We spent so much time laughing," Rizzi says of his time with Forsythe.
Rizzi expects some coming to see “BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER” might even "cry and get sentimental" at some of the footage presented.
"For those familiar with the work, we still learn so much more about dance and art," Rizzi says. "For young artists and choreographers, this will be a chance to let them know that it is okay to let go and to not be afraid of the work. It connects with how dance and the positive effect of dance on your own life."
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
In its 30th year, The Dance Complex continues to serve dance and dancers from next door and from every corner of the world.
With the 2022-23 DIY Performance Series, The Dance Complex brings to audiences a dimensional variety of experiences focused on the new creations emerging from dance and movement artists today.
Additional DIY performances will be announced at a later date.
The Dance Complex is supported by The Barr/Klarman Arts Initiative, The Barr Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cambridge Community Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Cambridge Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, Mass Development, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, The Wagner Foundation, and others.
The Dance Complex @ Canal District Kendall is located at 650 E Kendall St, Cambridge. Tickets and information at eventbrite.com