by Linda Shapiro
City Pages: Why did you choose to collaborate with Rufus Wainwright?
Stephen Petronio: Because he has the voice of an angel and the wit of a devil. The first time I heard his voice I could tell in the first three bars that it needed to have dance choreographed to it. It's operatic, theatrical, and moving.
CP: Your work "The Rite Part" follows in the footsteps of countless choreographers who have created dances to Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring." Why did you take it on?
SP: "The Rite of Spring" is a 20th-century monolith. It marks the beginning of Modernism in performance. Every choreographer of note takes it on as a challenge to measure themselves against. Stravinsky bangs the piano like a drum. I find that all very appealing.
CP: What do you look for in your dancers?
SP: I look for dancers who have such good technique that it is invisible. People who are not afraid to make fools of themselves, have a good sense of humor, and who are willing to go anywhere that I take them artistically.
The Stephen Petronio Company performs "BLOOM," "Bud Suite," and "The Rite Part" at the McGuire Theater in the Walker Art Center. $25. 8:00 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. Tonight through Saturday.