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Michele Rizzo, Walking and (cat)walking – the impact of performances: from Marni to Off-White

Clubbing as a perception of a social activity: intimate and shared among people. A way to learn more about oneself and those around, away from the ordinary day-to-day routine

The basic movement of walking

In his choreographic research, Michele Rizzo the pedestrian quality of walking was always intriguing. The human being’s most straightforward motion. Such interest expanded when they offered him to explore it. Within the fashion world, where (cat)walking is the most traditional and iconic code of movement. He has proposed a visionary and parallel world – like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland – by Francesco Risso, creative director of Marni. The beginning of Covid-19 pandemic reshaped the runway events like Off-White Imaginary TV, where Michele Rizzo choreographed the Parallel performance, allowing the fashion world to have a wider audience. The aim was to bypass the old boundaries and the exclusivity remarked by invitation only. 

Lampoon, HIGHER xtn. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 2018 Ph Marteen Nauw
HIGHER xtn. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 2018 Ph Marteen Nauw

Reflecting on themselves through the performance practices

Rizzo had his first approach with the world of art and choreography in Lecce, where he was born, watching the Romeo and Juliet ballet at the local theatre. Considering that he comes from a family of artists and dancers, he felt he needed to connect with the dancing world. Rizzo found in dance and acting the opportunity to discover his body and be more conscious of it and decided to go to Rome to explore a new life. The movement and dance helped him understand that his objective was to invest in the quest of the self, making him quit architecture studies to give space to choreography and visual arts, before in Rome and then in Amsterdam.

Rizzo’s first project ever is M. It consisted in the first step of the creation of some self-portraits, later performed by Rizzo trying to highlight the lively expressions of these images even outside the physical body. The reflection about the body was developed, giving birth to an actual size 3D copy of the artist, a kind of dummy made of foam, with the actual face of Rizzo created thanks to a silicone mold.

From that reflection was born the performance. The singer, the central character of the performance, symbolizes the confrontation between the work and the artist who produced it and of the work’s power itself. The main focus of this project is the fascination of the idea of the body as something both physical and non-physical, where the movement is intended as a non-physical aspect. In contrast, the body is conceived as an object that has to be recreated as a perfect copy of the self to perform with—the artist’s transcendence in the manufacturing process that confers all the power to the image.

Higher, Spacewalk, Deposition: a trilogy inspired by the club culture

It is essential to underline the influence of the club culture for the artist’s next projects, from his teenage times to the adulthood phase; «I realized that in the club I was rediscovering dance in a way that was teaching me more than I have ever learned in dance school.» 

Higher(2015) is the first expression of this consideration based on the experience of club dancing. This form of dance cannot be cataloged easily into a dance category, but it has social and cultural meanings manifested through different influences and styles. Speaking of his project, Michele Rizzo continued, «Higher is a dialogue between dance as it happens in the club and dance as an art form, the development of my poetic approach». This type of dance has been interpreted as a form of celebration with a cathartic aim, distant from the basic symbol of a recreational moment. Spacewalk (2017) can be considered the Higher second chapter, where dancers express energy comparable to the rave experience, entering into a trance-space through the repetition of the movements. In Spacewalk, «space is treated as a three-dimensional canvas in which dancers enter in this imaginary space and begin to explore.»

Deposition is the last project of this trilogy: described through the choreography; performed by Michele Rizzo himself. It refers to the returning concreteness of the following phase, after the ephemeral quality of the trance phase is over, crystallizing again towards a solid-state. The heaviness of the physical body returns from an imaginary experience to the consciousness of reality; the apathy of the slow gestures unfolds towards a completely quiescent state to close the circle of the whole happening. 

Performing walking at Marni fashion show

At Marni, the performance created for the collection began with the creative director Francesco Risso’s. With his desire to explore the walking medium of the fashion shows through an innovative approach. Rizzo defined Risso’s ideas as visionary and courageous in exploring shapes and patterns in a kind of distortion. The collection expressed his perspective through the sartorial hybrids. Assembled as leftovers of the archived clothes marked by the passage of time. The idea of a ‘fantastic world’ by Francesco Risso perfectly reflects Michele Rizzo’s vision.

It aims to enlighten the desire to escape the routine to deal with creativity, a concept far from reality. The idea of the fashion show was unconventional from the beginning. Bringing the audience into a non-existing place; with the idea of not only presenting clothes but having the whole floor covered by different models; clearly visible by the public. The conviction of the possibility of a moderate world was the starting point; This led to a new definition of walking into the catwalk; where a combination of slow mood with a fast one was presented. The possibility to focus on every detail of the apparel with the impactful contrast of speed.

Lampoon, Rest, 2020. Ph Cristian Cocurullo, Courtesy Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Quadriennale di Roma
Rest, 2020. Ph Cristian Cocurullo, Courtesy Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Quadriennale di Roma

Michele Rizzo’s most recent work

The latest work of Michele Rizzo is Rest; conceived as a sculptural and performative project. The live part of the exhibition, exhibited at the Quadriennale di Roma, did not occur due to the pandemic restrictions. The choreographer now refers to the project as «both the consequence and the non-consequence of this period». It happened partially compared to how it was intended.

Rest was already there before the Covid-19 advent as a following step of the work Higher xtn. (the exhibition version of the original piece Higher, initially created for the theatre) exploring the resting side of raving, a necessary phase for a new beginning. But after the pandemic outbreak, the work gained a series of different meanings. From the reflection forced during the lockdown; obliged to rest, to the question of the meaning of this word considering that the medical sector could not stop for a second. On the contrary, the other side of the world had to move and stand up through the Black lives matter movement.

Michele Rizzo’s work for Off-White ‘Imaginary tv’ collection

Recently Rizzo strengthened his relationship with the fashion world, choreographing the performance Parallel for the Off-White ‘Imaginary-TV’ collection. The concept of this presentation was to create a TV platform, the 90s inspired and conceived to reunite different art pieces and artists. From dance, music, theatre, visual arts fields, on diverse channels, including the SS 2021 collection show. As a result, the audience has to shift from one performance to another, choosing which artistic area to approach.

Rizzo explains how his work often deals with the recognition and the analysis of some very intimate and personal feelings. Therefore, how it could be an ‘introverted work’. Performance encourages dancers to look inside themselves. This way of interpreting is uncommon in theatre; where usually actors convey towards the outside, and, vice versa, the audience focuses on the performers. In Rizzo’s choreographies, the performer directs attention towards himself/herself to make the audience look inside themselves. That is why, at times, his work was a provocation in the eyes of people. When actually, it is just a different way of looking at and approaching this bilateral relationship.

What Michele Rizzo sees is a new way of conceiving and dealing with live arts. «Despite the difficulties, we (artists) keep on working, and we are trying to adapt to what is possible. But also we always should try to do what is impossible or at least try to reveal what is invisible. We cannot prevent ourselves from doing our job; we need to find a way to do it, it is hard to define the right know-how, but we will. Do it in the safest way possible».   

Michele Rizzo

Michele Rizzo is an Italian choreographer and performer. Born in Lecce and started his dance studies in Rome. In 2011 he graduated at the SNDO, School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam. He is occasionally  a Italian choreographer and performer; he was born in Lecce and started his dance studies in Rome. In 2011 he graduated at the SNDO, School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam. There he is occasionally a guest teacher in choreography and movement research.

In 2015 he attended a Visual Arts master program at the Sandberg Institute of Amsterdam. His multidisciplinary approach of the produced performances led him to the release of HIGHER (2015). A project inspired by club culture with music by Lorenzo Senni, SPACEWALK (2017). Also based on the club culture but with a focus on the space analysis. DEPOSITION (2019) represents the third episode of the trilogy. REST (2020), his last work, also connected with the clubbing side of reflection. His experience saw some collaborations in the fashion field. Dealing with the performative aspects of the collection presentations for Marni and Off-White.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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