Exclusive Interview with Dancer/Model Riccardo Battaglia from the H&M X KENZO collection launch.
Dancer and model, Riccardo Battaglia talks exclusively to Mode & Motion about his experiences of performing as one of the 36 dancers in the H&M x Kenzo collection launch show at Basketball City, New York.
Firstly, what kind of experience was the casting for this show? How did you get this job?
For this show I went to an audition for dancers only, the models were casted separately and I don’t really know how their casting was. The dancers audition was a typical dance audition. We first learned a short dance combination all together and then we were divided in groups of five/six people. Each group got to dance the choreography we learned as well as improvising for two or three times.
Watching the runway show back, you start to gain a perspective on the scale of this show. The models, the dancers, the musicians, the quick changes, the back stage atmosphere. How was the rehearsal process for this show?
I had already been a part of a fashion show as a dancer, it was the Moncler Show for New York Fashion Week this past February, with 80 dancers and 40 models, but it was completely different this time for H&M Kenzo. This rehearsal process was a new experience for me, there were musicians, the stage was shaped as a square, we had to actually model the clothes and everyone had from three to four exits. I definitely learned a lot from this. I was one of the 36 dancers on the runway, and we got to have our own rehearsal time for the first two days before we started being all in the same room, with the whistlers (the dancers who were on the stage for the entire show) and all the musicians. The 16 models didn’t come in until the day before the show and they had to learn their choreography very quickly! The dancers had four days of rehearsals in total, at first we were at a different studio and the day before the show we went and practice at the show venue, Basketball City. When we got there and started rehearsing with the clothes it was crazy! The quick changes were very stressful, but we got to do two full dress rehearsals before the show and try everything we needed. It was nice for me to see how things work in a fashion show of this scale, it was very different from what I usually do, which is dancing in traditional theatres.
With the variety of looks that Kenzo X H&M created, which entire look captured you imagination the most that evening? And which one piece of item will you rushing off to buy?
I loved a lot of the looks. My favourite was my first outfit with the denim suit, the cap and the boots. And I loved the women’s long dresses, and they worked perfectly with the movement. I didn’t get to wear it in the show but I will go and buy the denim parka, I need that in my closet, especially for the cold New York winter!
Ryan Heffington is breaking new territory as a choreographer across both dance and fashion Industries. His work on Kenzo’s latest perfume campaign was a visual treat. Working with him on this runway show, why do you think he is so successful? What are his trade secrets?
Ryan Heffington is a genius. This was my second time working with him. Last year he choreographed a beautiful piece for the New York gala for the charity #ENDHIV, you can also find a video on youtube, "Hostage". I think his secret is just being very humble and professional, dancing for him is such a treat. He's bringing something new, and that's why I think he's so successful. Contemporary dance has in the past been a more exclusive style, that people could only see in theatres. Ryan is showing instead how contemporary movement can work within the commercial world, (fashion, television, music videos) that have conventionally used hip hop or street dance styles. Working with him for this event was a life experience.
Finally, we are seeing the presence of dance and the use of dancers in fashion more and more frequently. What excites you the most about the future relationship between Fashion and Dance?
You're right, dance is being used a lot for fashion, commercials and especially with the internet being so accessible, a lot of people that were never able to go see dance in theatres, are now exposed to this beautiful art form. As a dancer it makes me happy to see this. I come from a small town in Italy, where being a dancer is not considered a ‘real job’, so it was hard for me to decide to pursue this career. Not a lot of people believed in my decision and I thank my parents every day for supporting me with it. I believe that because of the major exposure that dance is having, more and more people started recognising what I do as a profession. And it also means lots more jobs and opportunities for me!
The H&M X Kenzo collections launches online and instore Nov 3rd 2016.
Riccardo Battaglia (Pescara, Italy) began dancing at the age of eight at Scuola D’Arte New Step in his hometown. He is a three-time winner of the “Expressions” competition held in Florence as part of the Danzainfiera event and also won the Tip Tap Show competition in Rome. Battaglia trained at The Ailey School as a scholarship student, where he performed in the 2011 and 2012 Ailey at the Apollo galas. He has worked with choreographers including Matthew Rushing, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Robert Battle, Jennifer Archibald, Kate Skarpetowska, Manuel Vignoulle and Ryan Heffington. Battaglia has been a member of Elisa Monte Dance, Jennifer Muller The Works and Ailey II and performed with Lydia Johnson Dance, Earl Mosley's Diversity of Dance, CelloPointe and Rebecca Kelly Ballet. He has also danced in the 2015 #ENDHIV New York Gala , Moncler's 2016 NY Fashion Week, KenzoXH&M 2016 Fashion Show and was featured in various commercials. He is now a freelance artist and additionally teaches at The Ailey Extension.