Working questions

As I sit down after finishing this very intense week of residence in France, I wonder what it is exactly that happened here. I know I made a 12 minute work in about 4 days, with three amazingly generous and patient dancers. I know we were received with open arms and open minds (which are usually more important) by a group of people from Le Performance, that laughed with us, gave us plenty of coffee, were probably scared at the amount of chocolate we ate, and finally shared with us their work and ours.

I feel a bit like I have vomited through this work a lot of things that were brewing since my trip to Palestine in November. I also feel like nothing can reflect what is really going on there. Words like appropriation and entitlement creep up on me, and I cannot quite shake them off, and maybe I just shouldn’t. Then I remember the people that I met there, the ones that told us to speak about what we saw, the one that told me not to forget them. And I feel like, even if it is too small, this might just be a grain of sand for the storm we need right now.

If you are reading confusion through my words, then I am doing my writing well, because that’s all there is in my head right now. I fail to see how anyone can feel anything else in our present world.

I then wonder what the role of theatre dance might be right now, what can we do, what can we shout or whisper… With how insignificant and how gigantic we can all be, and how amazingly stupid we can act when we worry so much about things that don’t matter, and, you know the phrase, become silent about things that do.

There are no answers here, I’m afraid, only working questions…

To Federico…


It’s been ages since the last time I wrote in here… I know, but indulge me…
I have just finished a project, the always invigorating and exhaustingly beautiful Estancias Coreográficas, and I am right back on our next production: Vespers.
Vespers is a mixed bill where DDG will host CienfuegosDanza, a Spanish company headed by the one and only Yoshua Cienfuegos. They will present The Public, inspired by the homonymous Lorca play.
From DDG, I will direct Blood Wedding, also a work based on Lorca’s famous play.
Today marks 80 years since Lorca was assassinated, because of who he was, personally, artistically, politically. He was silenced that day but he still speaks strongly through his work. He was passionate about doing theatre that mattered, about taking it to the people.
We embark from the respect, the inspiration and the passion that his work instils in us, and we only hope to be worth at least of writing his name in our programme as a homage.
Today, more than ever, I think that art, dance, needs Federicos, to be personally, artistically, and politically (socially!) invested in the work. Principles, like the ones who got him killed, are easily abandoned. It might be with half the bread and a book, but it will be with all we can give it.
Forgive the enthusiasm (or not, or join in), sometimes you spend two weeks with amazing people, generous people, intense people that work passionately on what they believe in, and you cannot help but get contagious of the little Federico in each of them.

The joy of new beginnings

It has been a couple of very exciting (and exhausting) months. And they have been full of new beginnings for me, mainly new job and new country!
The great Raymond Chai told me before I left London that sometimes only the idea of a change in your life will affect your energy and the way you dance, and he is so right!!
But not only that, I have experienced something that had last happened a long time ago: I’m learning a dance form from the start: Flamenco! Took my first class a week ago and another last Tuesday. The excitement of not knowing what comes next, how the class will develop… It really keeps you on your toes (no pun intended ;)). It also adds new perspective to your dancing in other forms (ballet and contemporary for me).
Also, after a life of training to not make noise… I am enjoying stomping sooo much!!
Then I witnessed another kind of beginning: I have started pointe work classes for the students (not to make them dance on pointe, but to strengthen their feet and legs) and two of them had never done pointe before. I went with them to the shop to get their shoes fitted (and almost fought with one of the ladies who didn’t seem to know how to fit pointe shoes… But that’s anoter story). Their faces changed completely the first time they put a shoe on, and also when sewing the ribbons and elastic and during the first class. It is energising to see young dancers beginning new things too! (I am aware that I’m sounding really old at the moment, forgive me ;))
Clearly this has been a theme lately, and during this week I learnt what Diwali is and got to celebrate it with two lovely people. Apparently during Diwali you are supposed to start doing something new. Maybe we should all find a way to do that sometime!

Happy International Dance Day!

And so, it has come!

First things first: here is a link to the IDD 2012 message by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. (You can also look around and see why today is designated as IDD)

Now, the videos for today I had decided a long time ago. The ballet ones, in fact, inspired the whole series. The contemporary ones, well, I think you’ll understand when you see them. I think I’m going to miss this daily posts!!

To start with I have a video of Marianela dancing Gamzatti that I’ve been obsessing over for a good while now. The perfect moment, and one by the book here (technique, music, artistry, all come together in one second) is around 2:16, but it’s better if you pick it up a bit before, say beginning of that amazing pirouette at 2:12. I have no words for this moment, so I’ll just leave you with it.

And an all time favourite, that I always happen to find when I’m looking for nothing on YouTube, the great Baryshnikov in Giselle. Again is the end of a turn that I’m going to choose. And this happens to be the end of a variation too. But it is another case of sheer perfection: technical excellence, musicality and expression (the way his head and arms go up in that last turn a la seconde, for example). You can catch the turn I’m talking about around 0:52. But again, and the same with Nuñez’s variation, watch the whole thing, it is much better 🙂

And now for the contemporary, a creative force that left us rich, but orphans, Pina Bausch. I could give you a hundred different perfect moments from her work, but I will try to give you just enough to make you go and watch some more! And by the way, if you haven’t seen Pina, the movie, do, it’s a beautiful experience. I’m not choosing perfect moments here, it is such a personal experience and it makes so much more sense when watched as a whole. I’m leaving you with a short extract though, so it’s a perfect moment in full 😉

And to finish, the beautiful Pina herself.

Tomorrow is the big day :)

And for that, I’m giving you a treat, or maybe I’m giving myself a treat? Nevermind, ladies and gentleman: probably the most amazing combination in the world, Jolina and Manon!! (Well, Jolina and pretty much anything but… ;)) (Sorry, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Jolina is the partnership of Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg). Ok, so MacMillan’s Manon is already amazing as it is, specially in the first act pas de deux. Give it a good partnership and you have a perfect moment throughout, but I’m going to give you three perfect moments today…

My perfect moment: 4:20, the moment when the music builds up and Des Grieux picks up Manon and turns. It is especially good when done on the music, as it is in this video.
One little example of why I adore Jolina is very clear at 4:48, in the way she turns her head to face him while turning. It’s in this kind of details that true artistry resides, in my opinion.
And one guest perfect moment! The lovely Dave (if you haven’t already, check out his blog! DaveTriesBallet) chooses the moment Manon goes to the floor with her back arched to hold on to Des Grieux, beautiful!!! You can see it here around 4:52. Thanks Dave!

And here, the video 🙂

And for our contemporary choice today, Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon! Lightfoot recently appointed Artistic Director of Nederlands Dance Theatre, both have been collaborating to create work for both NDT and NDT2 for a while, with amazing results! Here, just an example. Note the use of carpet here, this use of elements in the choreography is one of the strongest things in NDT (and the gorgeous dancers, amazing choreography, etc. ;)), inherited directly from the master Kylian. My moment here is the end, the moment when the carpet is about to be rolled completely and they just do one more movement together before she steps front and he goes back. It’s around 4:40, and after there’s a lovely image too with his back to the audience and her fading with the light.