Exclusive Interview with Sara Pizzi – Choreographer
Sara Pizzi was born and raised in Italy. She began her dance studies with Ballet and Modern, but she soon discovered the world of Hip Hop and Commercial/Urban Dances, where she focused her training throughout her teen years. In Italy, she has performed in concerts, music videos, and has appeared in national TV shows as a dancer. When she was 18 years old, Sara came to New York with a scholarship from the Academy of Steps on Broadway. After one year of study, Sara joined the Certificate Program at Peridance Center in New York where she graduated in the summer of 2020. In those three years she discovers her new voice as a contemporary dancer and choreographer. She has had the opportunity to work with International choreographers including Nicholas Palmquist, Julie Magneville, Elisabetta Minutoli, Max Stone, Julia Ehrstrand, and G^2. Now, Sara is a performer with “The Next Stage Project” directed by Marijke Elisaberg and Jana Hicks; “VALLETO” from Valeria Y. Gonzales; “DancEntropy” from Valerie Green and she started her new project company/org S|R|P|Z collaborating with NYC dancers, choreographers, photographers, musicians, poets and visual artists.
NY Glam: How do you stay up to date with choreography?
Keeping update about your job it is the most important thing to maintain a high-quality job performance. Before covid-19 hit the city, I was attending local performances every week. Unfortunately, now it is not happening so I’m watching at least three choreographic work online every week; keeping track of upcoming work from well-known companies around the world (like works in progress and future projects). I’m researching on dance websites upcoming projects or performances to attend as a member or audience, most of all from local or newborn companies. Reading blogs, magazines, newspapers is also another way I use to keep track of what is happening in Europe and USA. But, most of all, the best thing I do to keep me update in studying the past: dance history, post modernism, visual art, pioneers of contemporary and readying-watching their work. Last, but not least, since dance is more and more moving towards the multimedia production, I’m studying visual arts and doing curses or videography and photography trying to apply the same method in choreography.
NY Glam: Do you have your own choreography?
Yes, I do. And this is why I shaped S|R|P|Z, to define and outline my choreographic work.
S|R|P|Z is my creative space to give room to my own voice and vision collaborating with various artists and non-artist in the hope to achieve my mission as artist and human being.
Right now, it is just me founding my projects connecting with people sharing my work with organizations in events or creating events. I’m working on it to create a solid team or to expand an already existing business to set the network and to turn into a company or no profit organization. My dream is to have different locations around USA and EU trying to create a corporation of artist to inspire each other and make a safe creative space.
NY Glam: What are your goals as a choreographer?
This is why my mission is “to normalize art and to empower minorities”. “To normalize art” because I feel that between the “ordinary people” and artists there is a wall. Artists are no- necessary & not well-paid workers and every time I share, I’m an artist people ask me the typical question “what is it your real job?” and unfortunately, it is true that being an artist most of the time does not paid your rent. But the things that bother me the most is that people things I’m not doing nothing everyday living in my own clouds. Also, in another hand, artists create this wall: thinking about ballerinas create this iconic ideal of perfection that most of the time scare people letting feel them inferior, or contemporary pieces that are way to abstract without description without helping the audience to understand the message behind. I want to make art for people, I want to be a bridge to welcome people to the art world without feeling judge or overwhelmed. I want to make art that speak about people, giving my point of view to understand the world and to let people think about it. This is the reason behind my goal to introduce art into “non-artistic” environments, to let art be our daily routine letting it be understandable and normalized. This is why, also, my priority is to help the category of minorities. As a spokeswoman of minorities (immigrant, lgbtqa+, dancer) I want to give voice to social issues that people tend to forget. Part of my passion of this, it is because before to move to NYC I worked in a mental health care center and it was heart breaking to see how people were judge or forget from the society, and they are just people with dreams and passion. I want to use art as a non-activist documentary of this world to explain what it should be changed, to give some possibilities of change and create space of reflection.
NY Glam: What does choreography mean to you?
Choreography is my voice and my vehicle to spread my mission. It is my artistic/visual point of view of how I see the world, to outline social issues that needs to be solved, portrait a new ideal solutions or fertile environment to grow reflections. A healing process of self-discovery from inside to outside and from outside to outside.
I believe as each individual in this world that have been choosing a career, I choose to express my opinion through art, and I’ll use it to contribute to this world to make a better place for everyone.
NY Glam: How would you describe your choreography style?
As I said before, the need to have technical dance companies is fundamental for the dance world to keep existing, but my bases are going in the opposite direction. In my choreographies you will always find a technique base, contaminated from the dynamic of the urban dances- since that was my training and education for most of my dance career. But I’m not going to use technique just to show off it, I’m going to use technique to deliver a message: the human being conditions. So, grounded movements, pedestrian patterns, daily life actions and storytelling are going to be always present in my work. My work it will never impress because of the extremely high technique, it will impress because each human being will fill a bit a part of it.
NY Glam: Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
My biggest accomplishment is not located in the past, but in the present or even if in the future. My biggest accomplishment is when everyday someone tell me “you inspire me”. Being able to keep doing what I love, to have and give work and being able to be model of inspiration for people, it the biggest accomplishment I could ask for. It was a hard journey, and a lot of people give up feeling alone, so If I can represent a strong person who achieve her dreams overcoming difficulties, helping others, this would make me feel I achieve my mission as human being.
NY Glam: What skills are important for a successful career in choreography?
Passion. You have to be in love of what you are doing. Being an artist means: dealing with compromises, sacrifice, struggle, facing discrimination and being misunderstood. It is too easy to feel push down, to give up. You have to be your strength and finding a new reason to dance every day. If you don’t have passion, this drive of unconditionally love what you ate doing no matter the conditions you are facing, you cannot make it. And I don’t speak about being successful in term of money, fame- for me those things mean nothing. Being successful in life, in my opinion, means achieve every day your mission and being happy of your life.
NY Glam: What are your favorite stores for inspiration?
I strongly believe in dreams and in people who work hard every day to realize them. So, all of my inspirational stores are people who embrace this message- and it does mean they are not just dancers.
First -common to say, but important to do not forget- is my mum and my partner. And other people could be from the biggest names who made the history to the old lady in the same ballet class who is living her life and she is happy just because she can dance. Most of them are my teachers and mentor who followed me in my journey in NYC. And actually, I want to add, that everyone inspires me: I can learn every day a lot from everyone, and I’m glad I’m surrounded from such and amazing community of artists.
But if I have to name some of the names who inspired me artistically, I wanted to name: Pina Bausch, for her unique expressionist movements in dance with modernist works in the highly dramatic mode of modern dance theatre dealing with psychological trauma arising from relationships – Mats Ek, for his social engagement of psychological dilemmas combined with subtle humor, form the basis of his choreographies, concept of “movement is a means of individual expression” where aesthetic value is not his first priority – Ohad Naharin for his inclusive way to conceptualize movements and Damien Jalet, Hofesh Shechter, Marina Abramovic and Yoann Bourgeois.
NY Glam: What are the latest choreographies you were create?
The last works I made are completely different between each other.
The first one is a Dance Movie named “HOME DANCE FILM” a dance movie directed and created by me in collaboration with the dancer Aika Takeshima and the videographer Rebecca Marcela Oviatt.
The theme is rotating around the concept of <<if you believe in yourself, in your dreams and you work hard to realize them, and you never give up, there is still hope and we can succeed even if it seems impossible from outside. In this sense of loss, where even our room is not any more comfortable for us and it doesn’t feel home. When we look at the mirror and our reflection is a stranger and we don’t know our identity, we can just look deep inside us and we will find an answer. Because we are stronger than what we think and deeply, we already know what we want.
THIS IS WHY I CALLED THIS WORK HOME: JUST COME BACK HOME, BE YOURSELF AND TRUST IN YOU AND IN THE PROCESS EVEN IT IS HARD.>>
The second is named “BLOCKS” a collaboration with the artist Aika Takeshima. “BLOCKS” is a new kind of online live performance named – Joining Style Performance – premiere on February 26th 8PM EST 2021. We wanted to break the ordinary idea of performance transforming it in an interactive place to share and discuss concepts together. The performance was created for and with the audience. We improvised movement and words rotating around the concept of the children blocks game. We reacted to everything happening around us and the audience. We let audience, thoughts, dance, events guide us.
NY Glam: What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a dance movie based on Bipolar Disorder. As I said before, when I was in Italy, I used to work in a health care house being in contact with people affected by mental disorders. In that year I collected many testimonials of people affected by bipolar disorder. Those people are human individuals with dreams and emotions, we don’t have to portrait them as a minority and, most of all discriminate them, just because they cross periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood that last from days to weeks each. With my personal-artistic point of view and structure of the video, I want to demonstrate that being in drastically different emotional state in a time period of five minutes it is normal and also what they lived it is exactly what every human being experience during life. The problem is not the subject itself, but how people portrait it. As I mentioned before, with this work, I want to empower minorities though art.
NY Glam: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
As most of the artists in this world, whatever is art, intrigue me. I love going to museum, studying art, reading, painting, drawing. But I found really interesting to work as a model for photographers who has a visual/artistic concept, so I can balance the quality of dancer movements and creativity with the value of photography that is able to capture the moment forever, expanding my choreographic ideas.
And another one, is making dance reels under submission: I take it as a different choreographic project. This time the dance material is not mine, but I have choice how of how to cut each piece, how to transition, playing with musicality, elevating each dancer qualities.
NY Glam: How has your work evolved since you began choreography?
It drastically evolved. Most of all, pandemic made me change from choreography on stage to creating dance movies. Actually, I deeply love it and I’m sure I’ll keep doing dance movies. Most of all to share it with a bigger audience and also because I feel that all the society is turning more and more into the virtual world. But also, because I deeply feel that videography allows to widen the possibilities: about point of view, dynamic, framing, location, timing. There is more room to play, more elements to consider, but also more possibilities to create a work that really reflet your vision. Most of all because, since I’m not a videographer, that allowed me to collaborate with different artists and this expand even more my knowledge and I can share my artistry with another person. In another hand, I truly miss working with a large group of people, to rehears seeing the process and rawness of work that slowly shapes. Watching how the work evolve into the dancers’ bodies and the performance energy of “one shot only but everything can happen”. This feels real and give more value to all the work behind that all the dancers put into a performance to dance as the best as they can. Mainly, watching my work being delivered directly to people seeing their emotions and reaction. So, I’ll keep doing both. Dance must exist in both ways.
In terms of technical aspects, also pandemic made me change. Before, I used to make choreographies in different structures, but always mostly frontal, never using props, using voice as extra element. Now I’m more aware about the space and its depth. Playing with angles, different point of views, costumes and props, voice as instrument. Story telling is still the keys in my work, but I discovered different ways to use some elements I’ve been working with. Working with visual artists and studying choreographics books definitely was my plot twist as choreographer.
NY Glam: Your motto in life?
From the “The Little Prince” novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry “It is only with the heart that one can see right: what is essential is invisible to the eye”. Call me a girl made of emotions, I believe what makes rotate this globe and moves people is love and passion. The reality of what we can just feel and not seen, it is what makes it so special, and it is kind sensation I’m looking forward in my life, in my dance pieces and when I dance.
NY Glam: What is your advice for aspiring young choreographer?
Easy so say, hard to do, but it is the key word, is to do not give up. As I said before, it is not easy. Most of all because we decide as job position a non-ordinary way that people may disagree or not understand. Mainly for choreographers, that are not dancers, but creators. We are making art that doesn’t last forever on stage, but it is made to be delivered on stage for one night. We have to work hard to make it history. We must be dancers, we must have a vision, a definition, being creative and unique and we create work for others. Our field of study is not just one, because we could get inspiration from anywhere (for me is sociology, visual art, psychology, literature, history) and more we know, more out work is going to be complete and rich. It means we should also be able to cover a position of leader and director. We need to be our self-employee, create our company, create work-space-opportunities, and all of this is matter of study, dedication and network. A lot of to say and to do, this is why I use that as my main advice. Or community is going to be always ready and open to help young choreographers like me. Taking inspiration from others, speak with them about their journey, learning from them, sitting next to a person who is working from decades about it, it is the best way to get started. Because I strongly trust that this world needs more artists with a strong message to deliver, a message of becoming and change. We are looking for the missing artists, not the best one. You don’t need to be extraordinary; you need to be unique how you are. Be your art. You are art. To be an artist, you need a message, trust in it and work on it.
NY Glam: What’s next for the 2021?
Next in this year, there are a lot of projects S|R|P|Z in collaborations with a lot of artist and non-artist that I’m so excited to share. First of all, soon I’m going to release my second dance video about Bipolar Disorder performed by Aika Takeshimaof which I’m director, creator and videographer. Second, I’m so glad to say, my previous works (also in collaboration with Aika Takeshima) “HOME” and “BLOCKS” get accepted to appear in a lot of dance festivals online and we are working to present the works “BLOCKS” and the one based on Bipolr Disorder LIVE in NYC. In the next season, is going to come out on YouTube (already out on Spotify) the music video of “Yoko gets Antibodies” from the composer Aaron Waldman, of which I choreographed and directed. Right now, I’m working with the writer Paul Rabinowitz and dancer Georgia Husborn on a dance movie “dance in poetry” named “The Monastery” of which I’m choreographer, dancer and director. I’m also working with the videographer Kent Miller for a dance movie named “When we could touch”. Likewise, I’m working on several projects with the photographer/videographer SDF MEDIA. Additionally, I’m working individually with some local painters, photographers and visual artists on some ongoing process. Another plan, I’m going to teach my improvisation-creation workshop called “Self-Portrait” in the summer intensive in NYC of VALLETO DANCE COMPANY of which I’m company member. From the same company, I connected with the dancer Andrè Saucedo with who I’m going to create a dance video and a live performance about GAD.