It has been a while since I have done an Interview En lair. I actually have a lot of interviews that I never published…I have more time now to focus on bringing this project to the next level.
I was inspired this summer in Ancona, Italy, by a man named Cristiano Marcelli. I met him through a mutual friend, Eddie Stockton, who normally teaches at the festival every year. This year because of his own success, he is living in Dubai and could not make it to the festival! But I will save that story for Eddies interview.
I arrive in Ancona, as Eddies replacement and I meet Cristiano. I was excited to finally meet him because Eddie told me “You are going to like Cristiano right away.” And he was right, I did. Besides his good sense of humor and positive attitude, it was his story that attracted me the most.
In the 90’s Cristiano was the drummer of the rock bands Santo Niente in Bologna and Wolfango in Milan. He did over 100 concerts throughout Italy, made several albums and several movie soundtracks. He now plays percussion for dance jams and for contemporary technique classes with international masters including Dominique Mercy, Fernando Suels Mendoza and Giorgia Maddamma.
Cristiano graduated from the DAMS of Bologna. Since 1997 he has been involved in spreading and encouraging the development of the culture of dance and its connection to music, cinema, theater and visual arts. Cristiano is president and technical director of La Luna Dance Center, Artistic Director of the Conero Dance Festival and head of the Dance Department at the Poliarte Academy.
As I got to know Cristiano I was more and more impressed with how he pushed the festival and school to new heights. Cristiano lead a complete reorganization of La Luna Dance Center including creating a new headquarters at the Ancona Panettone in 2009, restructuring a 1,100m2 municipal space, building a network of collaborations with artists from the major international dance organizations including from Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Germany, to Steps On Broadway, in New York City.
He acknowledges that he did not do this alone, thanks to the help and inspiration of Simona Ficosecco and many others, everything is running smoothly and full of happy faces.
I left full of energy and inspiration and I hope that after reading this interview, you will feel his energy!
Conero Dance Festival – La Mole – Ancona, Italy
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
I feel lucky because all things I have been doing in life were a surprise. Curiosity and passion showed me the way. One of the first things I wanted to be was an actor. When I was younger I loved to be on stage and in front of the audience. Today I love to be behind the scenes instead. I could never imagine my life about doing one single specific job. Whatever I have been doing in my life I always wanted to do something very connected to my feelings. Even since I was very young, I knew I wanted to do something I was passionate about… life without passion is just boring and meaningless. Acting, music, visual arts, videomaking, writing, dance are all the art forms I have been interested about, sometimes as artist, sometimes as promoter, and I still keep my options open for the future.
How did you arrive to dance?
The first way I arrived to dance was university. I studied theater in Bologna at the DAMS Arts and Music University. That was first contact. Eugenia Casini Ropa, my Theater History teacher, was really into dance so we ended up learning about legends like Pina Bausch or Mats Ek. But then it was impossible for me to imagine that in future I would collaborate with the dancers of their companies. Actually I didn’t even know that dance would be part of my life…
I arrived to Ancona because I broke –up with my rock band. I had been playing with a rock band in the 90’s and they kicked me out and wanted to play with someone else. I was heart broken. My friend Vittoria invited me to come to Ancona to rest for a bit and think about what to do with my life. I never left. On my first day I met Simona Ficosecco and fell in love. It has been 22 years but somehow feels like 22 hours. Simona had her own school called La Luna, and I immediately tried to do everything possible to help the school.
Cristiano Marcelli at Broadway Dance Center in New York City
Favorite Things to eat?
Pasta alla chitarra with tomato sauce and meatballs handmade by my Aunt Quintina in Abruzzo, but unfortunately she’s not in this world anymore.
All books by Raymond Carver, his “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” was life-changing to me. My degree Thesis was about him.
“Wings of Desire” (“Der Himmel über Berlin”) by Wim Wenders, Contempt (Le Mépris) by Jean-Luc Godard, “Big Fish” by Tim Burton, “La dolce vita” by Federico Fellini, “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick, “Frankenstein Junior” by Mel Brooks, “Enter Achilles” by DV8, just to tell a few…
Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?
All shows by Pina Bausch, I cried like a baby when I saw her “For the children of yesterday, today and tomorrow”, for instance. My emotions are always like in a washing machine when I watch her pieces: messed-up at first, then clean. I need to go to watch her pieces at least once a year.
Simona Ficosecco in ” The Silence of Flowers” by Fernando Suels Mendoza – Conero Dance Festival
I like dancers who…
Have a honest relationship with art and with themselves.
I am afraid of…
OMG. To not be able to finish what I started. I need time! Could I have some more time please?
A dance piece should…
Inspire my life. Inspire our lives.
Something you like to do other your current job?
Music. I used to be in a band. I play guitar, drums and whatever instruments I can. Now I also play drums for La Luna. Writing is another passion. I wrote many short stories and poems and I am working on my first novel for more than 3 years now. Will I be able to finish what I started? I am afraid.
One of the happiest moments in your life?
In my private life, it’s totally sappy, I know, but I had two happiest moments: when I held in my arms for the first time my sons Rocco and Pietro. In my public life it was when we opened the new La Luna headquarter, because I have been worked on that project for 3 years and from that moment I knew that many new projects in my dreams would be possible.
Student at the Conero Dance Festival – La Luna Dance Center
One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?
Being in a rock band in general. It was a lot about having fun. The 90s. Rock in Italy. Concerts. It was crazy. In that period I learned many things that I am using in my job today, specially about being organized and being crazy.
One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?
Once I hired a teacher at the Conero Dance Festival (CDF) and I was very excited about having this person in Ancona and very proud to have this teacher in the festival. I guess it was a bad moment for this teacher and she was not in a good mood or happy about… well anything really. She would get upset very easily and take it out on the staff and the students. It ended very badly and I was very embarrassed.
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
Simona. That’s where everything started with my family and with my job with dance.
Luna Dance Theater Company directed by Simona Ficosecco – La Luna Dance Center
One of the hardest things about your job?
I think my job is a lot about joining worlds together. Worlds that normally don’t go together, can have a lot more value and power if they join. Often, we have worlds developed in a way that they don’t fit together. They just don’t fit together sometimes. So for me it’s the same when I try to blend many styles of dance under the same roof or have 20 different teachers in one school. They all have their styles and personalities and to get them all excited, focused and trust around a common philosophy which is La Luna, that can be not so easy sometimes in the way that it is a constant work.
Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?
Something I have been working on for years is to turn La Luna into a university. A conservatory. We have just recently become the dance department of Poliarte Academy in Ancona and this allows us to start a professional course for dancers certified by the regional government. We should be able to turn this into dance university in around 3 years.
The Groovin Brothers break dance crew directed by Paolo Swift – La Luna Dance Center
How can the people reading this help you?
My best tools in my career, have been connections. The people I have met, the network we have built. I am looking for people who can believe in our projects give us their trust and connect with us. We need people with the same type of energy, the same philosophy on life. Read about what we are doing. It is positive for Ancona and for Italy. Watch our videos. Feel our energy and share it. Somehow, I am always connected with people like you… and Loree and Ryan, Eddie, Adam, Ambili, Niko Noki, Jean, Pau, Fernando and many others. Everyone is doing something because they trust that we are trying to do something for the community. Our Conero Dance Festival after 11 years is a relevant event in Europe with people coming from many countries. Some of them often are people coming to Europe for the first time choosing La Luna as their destination. This is a big responsibility that needs trust on a common vision and co-working.
A piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Dear aspiring artist, what are you living for? What do you want your life to be? The world needs arts! Do you want to leave a sign of your existence as your personal contribution to this world? There is a voice inside you asking for this. Just follow that voice. Sometimes the voice is weaker and it’s harder, sometimes it asks you to take crazy risks. As far as the fire of your passion is burning you can find the courage to follow that voice. Let your flame burn. Keep your mind sensitive and flexible. Keep searching. Be honest with your heart. Surprise yourself. Inspire and be inspired.
Armando Braswell teaching at the Conero Dance Festival – La Luna Dance Center