Interview Mauro Bigonzetti

4 March 2024

Choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti is in our studios to create his new work Bambù, a world premiere, for the SPRING production. For this programme we are also revisiting his success pieces Cantata and Rossini Cards that he made almost 25 and 20 years ago. We spoke with him about these ballets and their origins, about his inspiration for Bambù and the collaboration with his son who composed the music.

Mauro feels at home at Introdans, he finds working with our ensemble very special. In 2016 he was also in Arnhem when Cantata premiered with us as part of the Tutti programme. In 2018 we danced (part of) Rossini Cards, and again in 2022 during our anniversary programme. Now we are reprising these pieces, together with his new work Bambù, for the full-length programme SPRING, which is entirely dedicated to this Italian master choreographer.

Focus programme
SPRING will premiere on March 22, 2024. How does Mauro feel about the audience being treated to three of his works in one evening? “I am very proud that three of my choreographies are danced in one dance company and in one programme. That’s very special for me. Two of those choreographies are quite old, because Cantata is almost 25 years old and Rossini Cards is more than 20 years old. But I also really enjoy making something completely new. And I think the audience can also enjoy the difference between these ballets, the difference in the language.” He finds it difficult to indicate what the difference is himself, but he knows one thing for sure; 25 years ago he was a different person and had different inspirations than he does now. “Now I’m older and I definitely do different things than then. The audience can discover the differences!”

Bambù is an abstract ballet full of pure dance and is a new work that he creates with the dancers of Introdans. About creating something new, Mauro says: “I always have a general idea in my head or something that inspires me. These are never movements or anything. The creation happens when I’m working in the studio with the dancers, I have to work with them in person.”

He got the inspiration for Bambù from the bamboo plant. “Bamboo is a very beautiful plant, which is originally common in Asia, such as Japan, Vietnam and China. I find a lot of symbolism in it. What I particularly like is the structure of the roots underground. They seek for each other, work together and intertwine to withstand rain, wind and snow. They become stronger and stronger because of this connection. This fascinates me. Because many plants have their own part for their roots underground, but bamboo connects and only becomes stronger. I really like that idea. It is also so topical and a metaphor for these times when it seems increasingly difficult for people to connect with each other, despite our differences in culture, views and religion. But these differences seem to go against our nature, because as people we want to connect with each other.

Federico Bigonzetti
Mauro’s son, Federico Bigonzetti, composed the music for Bambù. For Mauro it was very special to work with his son. “In any case, because he is a very good composer,” says Mauro. “I think the first time I did something together with him was 20 years ago. Back then it was more of an experiment. Now we’re actually doing a production together! And that is very special to me. He is like a friend to me, the way I work with him. Bambù’s music is electronic, but you also hear a lot of his acoustic percussion, with influences from different styles; from Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The music incorporates a poem by the Japanese artist Ayana Homma, Bambù Tale. “Her poem is based on a very old Japanese folktale, The Tale of The Bamboo Cutter. In the music, Homma sings parts of the poem. When I first heard her sing a few years ago I thought wow. She has such a special voice.”

Cantata is very unique in my repertoire. Because it was at a special moment in my life that I met the singers of Assurd at a party. It was a kind of a revelation when I heard that music, it’s so strong and powerful. I really wanted to work with them. In the beginning it was awkward and sometimes difficult, because it is not easy to create something based on this style and music. But after a while it became easy and very natural and the ideas almost came naturally. Sometimes you have that feeling that everything comes together and was meant to be, almost magically. It was the same for my creation on this music, it fitted like a glove. The dancers were also impressed. They can convert this energy back into their movements, their muscles, their bones and in their brain. For them it is a dive into other possibilities for their body.”

Rossini Cards
“For me, this choreography is a tribute to the composer Rossini. When I was 11 years old I heard a live orchestra play for the first time in my life. It was at the opera La Gazza Ladra. That was a fantastic moment. And the symphony in particular really grabbed me; the beginning of the opera. This is the final part of Rossini Cards. And I remember sitting in the first box every day as a child and seeing and hearing the orchestra and thinking it was so special. From those moments I fell in love with Rossini and it never stopped. I like everything about this composer. I love the atmosphere of his music, the composition, the soul and the spirit of his music, it is very Italian for me.”

Old and new work
“For me it is very normal to actually show who I once was through my ballets, when I was young in my twenties, in my thirties and so on. It’s like you show an old photo of yourself to someone, this also applies to my work. People can then see for themselves the difference between the ballet of the past and that of what I am creating now.”

“You can also compare it with a visit to a museum, to a Picasso exhibition for example; you see his work from when he was young, when he was in middle age and his later work. At first glance it seems that this work was painted by three different artists, but if you look deeper, you see the same pain shining through, the same man. You can clearly see the differences, but also certain elements in that work that correspond with each other. “

Mauro finds it difficult to describe the line in his work himself. He prefers to leave that to the public. “I’m curious about it though,” he says, “so I would really like to hear what they think. To see my new ballet Bambù in SPRING, next to my older work, is very special for me. It is also the first time that Cantata and Rossini Cards are together in one programme. I’m also very curious about that; what will the public think about that? So I’m very curious whether they will recognize my signature, but I think they will. Because I don’t think your approach to the music changes much over time, but your vision and feelings do.”

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