July 17, 2013; Seattle, Washington
Dean Speer and Francis Timlin
The exciting young Spanish choreographer, Alejandro Cerrudo, was recently in Seattle to begin work on making a new ballet for Pacific Northwest Ballet and we were able to observe a bit of one of his rehearsals and then catch up with him for a few minutes while he took a break from his busy schedule. What follows is a summary of that interesting conversation.
How did you first get into choreography and making dances?
I used choreography as a means to try to make myself a better dancer, so it wasn’t so much initially about choreography.
Some people liked my work – I choreographed a solo that eventually was acquired by the Stuttgart Ballet. Jongky Goei – an impresario friend of mine, was the first to commission this solo from me – in 2001.
Do your dances have a certain look or movement vocabulary that can be identified as yours?
I don’t like to describe my choreography and don’t want to put a label on myself. I want to surprise the audience. I will often do the opposite of what I last did. I admire choreographers who reinvent themselves.
Paul Taylor has written something very similar about his own work; that he works hard to not repeat himself…
I’m interested in learning new things every time I start a work. If there are typical rules for choreography, I’m not sure these rules guarantee a great ballet. I’m more interested in the quality of the work. I want the next work to be better than the last and explore new ways of approaching the work.
Can you tell us a little about the piece you’re working on for PNB so far?
It’s too early in the process to know much about it. This is only my second week of working with the dancers – and I’m still learning about the company. If you were to ask me “How many dancers are in it?” I’d have to say,”I don’t know.”If you were to ask me, “What is the music?” Again, I’d have to say, “I don’t know.” I’m still making my selections. At Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, I’ve had a long history [seven years] of working with the dancers, and we know each other quite well. I’m excited, though, as this current unfamiliarity may be helpful in pushing me toward new directions. I’ve not yet decided on music and did not come with a pre-set idea. I like to get ideas from the dancers.
Don’t you find that how a piece ultimately turns out on stage surprises you?
I’ve not yet had a concept that was fully realized onstage! I’m interested in working this way – I like pieces to evolve in their own way.
Some choreographers like to be involved with all aspects of a project – production values such as costumes and the lighting. Is this too a part of your preferred process? How involved do you like to be?
Choreography is not just about steps. Often, that’s the easiest part. The hardest can be choosing the music and the production elements. I like to be involved with lighting and design. We have to think about and prepare everything – it’s a little like preparing a romantic dinner.
Have you ever considered making a ballet to silence?
I’ve often created and choreographed in silence but have never done a completely produced work in silence, although it does intrigue me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m grateful that my girlfriend, Ana [Lopez], is here. She is also a dancer with Hubbard Street and knows my work very well and is incredibly helpful.
Hubbard Street not only gives me an amazing “home” and “laboratory” for experimentation, but it also affords me a lot of freedom to take outside engagements. I feel creative artists need space to breathe in order to continue to stay creative. Creativity promotes further creativity.
More time and less pressure opens the door to more exploration.