Tony Rizzi is an American-born choreographer and former principal dancer at the Frankfurt State Ballet whose performances mix dance, drag, film and theatre. His latest piece, Even crazy people want to be invited to the party, is a co-creation with his partner Alessandro Costagliola and comes to Berlin’s DOCK 11 in April.
What’s it like to perform in Berlin?
I love showing the Berlin public the creative madness that goes on in my hometown of Frankfurt, our ‘little village with a skyline’, because it’s like bringing my show to experts! But Berliners have also seen so much and are a tougher audience to win over. Berlin audiences can be a little snobby. But then again, that has never been a problem with my work.
Your latest show pushes boundaries of genre, but you’re a ballet dancer at heart – do you think ballet can be stuffy?
Berlin audiences can be a little snobby.
I was recently at the Berlin State Ballet. They put on the classical piece Theme and Variations by George Balanchine and then a modern piece, featuring techno music, by my long-time collaborator, the experimental choreographer William Forsythe. I was told they brought in Theme and Variations to please the older crowd. I was sitting next to four senior ladies, and they were so bored with the classical ballet! But when the Forsythe piece started, there were smiles all over their faces.
What’s your favourite new piece of dance you’ve seen in Berlin?
I adored Florentina Holzinger’s Tanz with the great Trixy Shoenherr as the main character, who starts the show by giving a ballet class naked. Also Half Life by Sharon Eyal at the Berlin State Ballet. And, believe it or not, Forsythe’s Barre Project presented online during the pandemic was just fabulous. Just great, unpretentious ballet reminding us it is a fun art form, too.
There is a lot of shit on stage – don’t be shocked, it’s smelly but definitely fake.
And what’s your favourite performance ever?
That’s so hard! The first that comes to mind was Cafe Müller by Pina Bausch – a classic. When I first saw that at age 20, dance finally made sense to me. And also a piece of theatre by Romeo Castelluci called On The Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God. There is a lot of shit on stage – don’t be shocked, it’s smelly but definitely fake. The opening scene is basically the old man shitting himself and his son cleaning it up, and then he does it again and gets cleaned again… it was one of the most moving performances I’ve ever seen.
Why should people see Even crazy people want to be invited to the party?
Well, I can honestly say it is better than sitting at home watching Netflix. It’s a humorous evening of great dance, funny films and thought-provoking scenes about life here in Germany and around the world, and what connects us. The energy of the show might even make you want to get up and dance or speak.
- Even crazy people want to be invited to the party is at DOCK 11, 6-8 April 2023, in English