She’s just been rehearsing. Now, somewhat exhausted, she heads toward the sofa and begins to talk about the trips she’s planning to Paris and London, and the genesis of her solo piece. Italian sing-song, always a little “too loud, too much drama”, as she herself says, always ready for self-deprecating exaggeration. It’s a while before I can ask my first question.
Nicole Strecker: So, Tiziana –
Cristiana Morganti: My name is Cristiana (She hesitates, then laughs): Ah! You’ve seen my piece?
NS: Yes, the name “Tiziana” is from your solo, “Jessica and me”. You imitate an interview in which the questioner stubbornly continues to call you by the wrong name. You must have had some bad interview experiences. What was the worst question?
CM: ‘Do all of you from Tanztheater live together?’ This naive image, as if we were some funny commune. Or that strange question about Pina: was she difficult, were rehearsals a kind of psychoanalysis? And when I said no, you could see the overwhelming disappointment on the journalist’s face.
NS: What question would you like to have posed to you?
CM: That’s a tough one. (She considers for a while): Why did dancers stay with Pina Bausch for so long?
NS: Because you could participate in the creation of great art?
CM: Because it was always a bit surprising with Pina. She was unpredictable. A little dangerous. You couldn’t relax; she could pull the rug out from under your feet at any moment.
CM: It might be that I’d do something on stage, and I’d be feeling good about it, and then one day she’d ask – (Cristiana Morganti sits bolt-upright on the sofa and gives an impression of the dialogue with Pina Bausch. A quiet, gentle voice):
“Have you always done it like that?”
“I thought so.”
“Yes. You thought so. But I’m – not sure.”
Full stop. No further explanation. Her extreme sensitivity for changes, formal changes in the piece as well as internal ones – sometimes it really unnerved me.
NS: There’s a lovely moment in your solo “Jessica and me” where you slowly slide across the stage in bright red patent leather pumps that are far too large for you.
CM: Size 47! It was hard to find them. We had to order them from a drag shop in London.
NS: A dance in shoes that are too big for you – is there a story there about your doubts as a choreographer?
CM: Possibly. I’d seen a painting depicting it. I found it very beautiful and I wanted to have that moment in the piece. It all emerged from a certain chaos. I collected material from books, photos, music, memories. I didn’t have a common thread running through it all until I discovered that I myself was the thread!
NS: Had you been wanting to choreograph for a long time?
CM: I always liked making things with other people. Every summer for what must be 10 years I’ve given workshops for children with disabilities or extreme motor difficulties. There’s always been a performance at the end and that’s when I noticed that I really am interested in choreography.