“ I strongly believe in the versatility of the artist, it is a “must” in contemporary art “
Eva Defeses: Although many critics have particularly underlined the perfect union between dance and theatre in the show Dorian Gray, if we take as a starting point the words of the director Dra- gos Galgotiu, who mentioned in an interview the connection between the world created by the fusion of these two art forms with the “visions of Caspar David Friedrich, the painter of philosophers”, we cannot help but noticing a way of construction similar to the act of painting. It is more than a simple logical deduction generated by the title of Oscar Wilde’s novel, your dancing moves on stage appear, when taken one by one, drawing studies, put to- gether by rhythm. Did painting play a part when you created the choreography for the show based upon the novel ”The Picture of Dorian Gray”, at the Odeon Theatre in Bucharest?
Razvan Mazilu: It is a very interesting question. I would like to say that painting is another passion of mine; maybe if I had not embraced the dancing, I would have painted. In a show like Dorian Gray, the pictorial side plays an important part, because it materializes on stage the epoch evoked by Oscar Wilde’s novel, as defined by the obsession for beauty, by the superiority of art over life itself. From this point of view, it was of utmost importance that all the elements of this show – from scenography and costumes to the harmony and gracefulness of the moves – should have a common element: an exacerbated aestheticism – taken to the extreme, I would say.
Eva Defeses: Shows in night clubs (Sell me!), sacred music (Block Bach), Argentine Tango (Un Tango Más), Shakespeare (a one-man dance show, impersonating four major Shakespearean characters in a one-hour performance), etc. are only a few of your projects which at first glance seem contradictory, comprising a great vari- ety of themes and styles. Yet your dancing puts them all together gracefully. What is the style that mostly attracts you?
Razvan Mazilu: At 14 years’ old, I discovered the contemporary dance. I didn’t know anything about it, but I had the revelation of the fact that I would perform contemporary dance and not classical ballet. I have chosen contemporary dance not because I couldn’t face up the demands of the classical ballet as many dancers do today. To me, dancing, as I understand it, is really an existential need, it is the way I express myself best. I like to experiment many genres, from contemporary to cabaret, to theatre-dance. I love the musicals, and I want to direct such shows. So, I would rather define my style as eclectic.
Eva Defeses: What does the theatre bring into this? Is there some- thing that cannot be expressed by dance and the theatre supplies it?
Razvan Mazilu: The very way that I dance is marked by theatricality; I tend to run away from the abstract. Moreover, I strongly believe in the versatility of the artist, it is a “must” in contemporary art. I became a director – choreographer at a very early age … at
20. Maybe it happened this way out of lack of self-conscience, or out of the strong need to demonstrate that I had something to say. Surely, at first, people look at you like you were a curiosity of nature, a freak; there is the prejudice that dancing is something frivolous, so how could I, a mere dancer, put together shows of theatre – dance? I held one man shows, but I also collaborated with important directors, whenever I received attractive proposals. I adore alternating between being a dancer and a creator of shows, and it seems to be very provocative to me.
Eva Defeses: Is there a book that has left a mark on you and which you would like to put on stage?
Razvan Mazilu: I would like to put together a show based on Death in Venice for instance, as it is a novel on the condition of the artist, about the quest for an ideal, at all costs…
Eva Defeses: You have been dancing since 3 years’ old. Who is the person who mostly stood by you on your journey on this “path” (as I know you don’t like the word “career”)?
Razvan Mazilu: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to underline whenever someone asks me this question, the important support I have received from my family, who knew how to cultivate, in an era that seemed completely fade, lacking perspectives of any kind, feelings such as beauty and sensibility. My parents and my sister understood my calling and helped me a lot. It is so important to be understood, to have someone there for you.
Eva Defeses: What is your relation with the actors you work with? Do you influence each other? For instance, in 1995, when you worked with Maia Morgenstern in “The Lady of the Camelias” you have managed to turn this working experience into a beautiful, lasting friendship…(This was the first dance-theatre show, ever produced in Romania)
Razvan Mazilu: My stage partners, actors or dancers, are of extreme importance to the show. I need to work with artists who complement me, whom I can communicate perfectly with, on stage, above any words. This happened with Maia, and I really managed to work greatly with her. Moreover, my encounter with her granted me cour- age. I was a student, at the beginning of the journey; she was already a famous actress. The fact that she put so much trust in me, that she took a great risk by joining me in “different” kind of shows, which had never been made before, meant so much to me. I would like to thank her again for that.
Eva Defeses: You have stated that you cannot dissociate Mazilu – the artist from Mazilu – the man. What has drawn you to Oscar Wilde’s character, so that we may know something more about the man, without forgetting the artist?
Razvan Mazilu: I grew up in a block of flats, in a neighbourhood of Bucharest, during communism. I had a happy childhood thanks to my family, but we all know what sad times those were. Don’t you think that dandyism, as represented by Dorian Gray, can turn into a landmark for a teenager yearning to live in another world, among beautiful things and experiencing special moments? I read The Portrait of Dorian Gray and it impressed me, than Craii de Curtea-Veche by Mateiu Caragiale. All these readings helped me escape from the daily reality, encouraged me to dream beautiful dreams. And I was hoping, in secret, to embody the character of Dorian Gray, on stage, a dream which actually fulfilled itself, almost 4 years ago.
Eva Defeses: Do you find yourself seduced more often by characters similar to yourself, or, on the contrary, is it more fascinating to in- terpret a character that you have nothing in common with?
Razvan Mazilu: I am crazy about constructing characters; it is as simple as that. The more difficult they are, the more provocative it is. Generally speaking, each character gives me the opportunity of discovering and re-discovering myself, of finding unexploited resources. To embody a character, to bring his destiny onto stage, to live through that character experiences that I don’t usually have in my daily life – this is what fascinates me.
Eva Defeses: What are your thoughts when you stand in front of the applauding audience for minutes and the public won’t let you go?
Razvan Mazilu: It is a very strange feeling, a feeling of grace, I’d say; I can’t say that I think at something in particular. I just enjoy the feeling that the audience and I communicate with each other, that we share a connection.
Eva Defeses: What question would you mostly like to be asked and nobody has asked it yet in an interview?
Razvan Mazilu: Difficult question. Maybe it’s precisely this question… But I am still looking forward to be surprised, with each interview. For instance, nobody has ever asked me: “Have you ever danced in a dream?” The answer would be: “Yes. Many times. Sometimes, I have the feeling I have never woken up.”
Eva Defeses: Dear Mr. Mazilu, it has been a pleasure and an hon- our to talk to you. Thank you for your time.
NIRAM ART wishes to thank Mr. Razvan Mazilu and Mrs. Toni Cojanu for their time and support and for providing the photographies that beautifully illustrate these pages.