“Dance is dance. With no more meaning than that. The body, the movement in itself already expresses enough. You don’t have to add anything to that.”
With these words the Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti reveals himself to be a kindred spirit of the Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. But in contrast to the latter – who has worked throughout his career in one consistent, considered line and style – the Bigonzetti’s oeuvre is characterised by an extraordinary diversity. Unlike Van Manen, Bigonzetti has mostly worked as a freelance choreographer at various periods in his career, engaged by leading companies in the United States and throughout Europe. And here, time and again, he has shown a great talent for adapting to the dancers with whom he works, without this detracting from his individuality and idiosyncrasy.
In September 2016 Introdans will become the first Dutch company to include a choreography by Bigonzetti in its repertoire: Cantata. The Italian company Aterballetto and the Germany company Gauthier Dance performed this universally acclaimed work at the Holland Dance Festival and at the 2016 festival edition Gauthier Dance also performed Bigonzetti’s Alice in Wonderland, made specially for this company. In both creations Bigonzetti makes strong use of Italian folk culture, both musically (with (live) music by the Italian female folk group Assurd) and in terms of movement language, which is often raw, earthy and sensual. But he also makes very different works, such as his recent Cinderella, a major narrative production for the Ballet of La Scala in Milan, in which Bigonzetti follows the classical ballet tradition in terms of music choice, narrative line, style and use of point dance. And then again he has created productions in which his statement ‘dance is dance, with no more meaning than that’ is expressed most clearly, such as the wonderfully pure Vertigo that he made for the international star dancers Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes.
Bigonzetti (Rome, 1960) received his dance training at the ballet school of the Teatro dell’Opera in his city of birth and in 1979 he joined the Balletto dell’Opera in Rome. Then in 1983 he switched to the contemporary Aterballetto in Reggio Emilia, where he worked with such leading international choreographers as Alvin Ailey, Glen Tetley, William Forsythe and Jennifer Muller. At was at this company in 1990 that he also made his first choreography: Sei in movimento. Three years later he left Aterballetto to begin a career as a freelance choreographer, combining this with a position as house choreographer at the Balletto di Toscana. In 1997 he returned to Aterballetto, now as artistic director of the company, where he continued for eleven years – and the group still regularly performs his works.
There is a long list of foreign companies for which Bigonzetti has created ballets and/or which perform works by him, including the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, the New York City Ballet, the English National Ballet, the Ballet National de Marseille, the Stuttgart Ballett, the ballet companies of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Staatsoper Dresden, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Portuguese Ballet Gulbenkian, the Ballet of La Scala in Milan, the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
At the start of 2016, Bigonzetti was appointed artistic director of the prestigious Ballet of La Scala in Milan. This appointment is not uncontroversial – especially among the dancers of the company – due to the fact that Bigonzetti’s experience is mostly within the more contemporary ballet genre and up until now the Ballet van La Scala has performed a geneally classical repertoire.