TDE Asks: Caterina Rago
About Labyrinths & Bridging The Gap Between Dance In Rome And New York
Italian choreographer Caterina Rago presents her troupe of eight female dancers in a new full-evening work titled Labir Into.
Thursday-Saturday, October 6-8, 2016
New York Live Arts, 219 W 19th St, New York, NY
More info and ticket links HERE.
Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: Hi, Caterina! Come stai?
Caterina Rago, dance artist and founder of Caterina Rago Dance Company: Ciao, bene Grazie!
TDE: I’m curious to know if your move to New York was prompted by the Professional Training Program at Martha Graham Center?
CR: I moved to New York because I wanted to become a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company. I started my Professional Training Program at the Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome, where after 12 years, I graduated and received my BFA in Contemporary Dance. I started my Graham training when I was 14-years-old. Through this technique I discovered a new language, a way to communicate. This technique was empowering physically and emotionally. I was fascinated by the repertory; I just remember that I wanted to become a Clytemnestra, a powerful woman. I was fascinated by the Graham elegance on stage; from the emotional drama to Martha's vocabulary. A beautiful journey that allowed me to speak from the inside, to deeply feel myself and most importantly, this path was the key to developing my own language. I understood how she did it.
TDE: Your love for your heritage shines through in your efforts to bridge the gap between Rome and New York audiences. Tell us about your teaching program that brings dance instructors from here to teach workshops in Rome? What’s on the syllabus, for instance?
CR: Tecniche di Danza Moderna (Modern Dance Techniques) will start the second week of September 2016 in Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Danza. The program will take place one weekend each month, and each monthly meeting will include the study of Graham technique, Horton and Limon. For the first time in Italy, international artists from New York will be invited to share their experiences and knowledge with Italian students for an entire academic year.
I love my country, and I love to provide opportunities to students who do not have chances. It is also important to recognize the heritage we have, to create a strong foundation and look forward to create new path. New York is the city of opportunities, right? But we are the one to create them. I want to be able to create for my country a reference point, a real home for Italian dancers, and to help them to understand with a new perspective. I'm excited! We start this week!
TDE: We too are excited for your upcoming show at New York Live Arts. Labir Into delves into the mystery and symbolism of labyrinths – both the Grecian structure as well as our personal mazes. What sparked the idea?
CR: We all live in a 'Labir Into.' Life is a labyrinth and it's all about the journey. We all go through different waves, from the smallest to the biggest, we feed our divine spark or "the center of the labyrinth" and we walk in the deepest recesses of ourselves. The labyrinth is a inner journey. The 'outside life' is not the purpose! But we get distracted and confused from the outside world and drift farther away from our center. The entrance of the labyrinth is the exit. Isn't that amazing? We walk deep inside to get to the center and gaze at the mirror of our soul. It takes courage to abandon the outside and feel ourselves – that is why I want to highlight the word 'INTO.' I cannot create anything if I do not live it personally. I need to viscerally experience these emotions to start the creative process. Not too long ago, I felt lost. I was in a dimension that I did not know. I could not see the way out until I understood that the disorienting path was the key to seeing.
TDE: I saw an excerpt of Labir Into being performed by a mixed sex cast for L'Accademia Nazionale di Danza about a year ago. Did you have to revise the choreography for your all-female company of eight?
CR: Not really. After all, we all go through the same emotions. I had a cast of 30 dancers at the Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome. I love to create and see many bodies on stage. Through that many bodies, I could see endless spiral stairs. In the past, I asked some of my New York students to join my dance production, because I needed to increase specifics feelings. The excerpt I created in Roma was the beginning of the Labir Into creative process. In less then five minutes, you are catapulted into a dynamic maze that you see build and deconstruct. Having many bodies for that process helped me to stimulate images, colors and feelings. After this phase, I kept what I needed to make it chaotic but clear.
TDE: Let's chat about your collaboration with the other incredible artists who helped create Labir Into – set designer Pier Paolo Bisleri and sculptor Davide De Donato. Is the set a literal representation of a labyrinth or more abstract?
CR: I met Pier Paolo Bisleri in Italy while performing with the Martha Graham Dance Company in Cercando Picasso. Pier created the set and I was fascinated by the pieces of art! We stayed in touch and started at one point to exchange thoughts about my new concept. After exchanging many letters, we synced.
I needed the set design to be precise and strong, but at the same time, ethereal and evanescent to create a metaphor. To the 'outside world,' the set is a literal representation of a labyrinth, but we will be walking inside an 'inner path' or a representation of our center – our divine spark.
Pier introduced me to Davide Di Donato, whose sculptures create the chaos and the instability I need before and at the end of the journey. The exterior of the labyrinth will be built with books, an element in constant change and embodying different symbologies. As visionary and dreamers, we see things the same way!
TDE: The Dance Enthusiast is a huge proponent of Audience Reviews. What are your thoughts on audience feedback?
CR: The Audience is given a platform to express their impressions of the artistic journey through reviews. I believe it not only helps the artist, but also the reviewer as it allows us to continue our interaction beyond the night of the show. In taking time to write a review, one hopes that the audience member has a thoughtful reflection on that experience, one from which everyone may benefit.