"I want people who know how to express things on stage. They have to love dance and be very musical."



Jennifer Leake Observes and
Interviews Nacho Duato
June 2001



Nacho Duato brings his Compañía to New York

Walking into the theatre during Compañía Nacional de Danza's rehearsal of Nacho Duato's Multiplicity is like opening the door on a church service. Bach's music fills every nuance of the space and the dancers perform the choreography with an attitude akin to reverence.

But then Duato's work commands a degree of reverence. This popular choreographer, who looks no more than a day over 30 (when already over 40) at close range, possesses a sensibility for music likened to the greatest 20th Century choreographers, especially that of his mentor, Jirí Kylián.

Duato, who is growing somewhat weary of the parallel critics draw between his choreographic style and Kylián's, has set out to leave his own special Spanish-flavoured mark on the dance world. And it's music that inspires this handsome, long-limbed dancer/choreographer to create. Although there are no musicians on his family tree (his relatives are more inclined to be doctors), Duato was compelled to dance from the moment he heard music as a young man; and dance he did.

When Duato performs a fluid solo in Multiplicity (which he did during the Sydney premiere in January 2001), his plastic, beautifully proportioned body forms shapes almost too effortlessly. It is easy to see how his acute musicality and keen sense of the limitations (or lack thereof) of a ballet dancer's physique impact his work. His movements are large, rounded, organic and sometimes quirky. The music seems to sing through every cell in his body. When his dancers enter, instead of mimicking Duato's style, they seem to embody his choreography and imbue the steps with their own personas.

During an interview backstage in Sydney, Duato explained to me what he looks for when choosing dancers for his multicultural company or the affiliated school. “I want people who know how to express things on stage. They have to love dance and be very musical. I'd rather sacrifice some kilos [and choose shapely dancers] than have dancers who can't pick up the music or feel the music inside. It's quite terrible to see good dancers who are unmusical.”

Multiplicity, Duato's second full-length ballet after Romeo & Juliet, was created on a collage of J.S. Bach's music. It makes its US debut at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival on July 25.


The above was an excerpt from an interview conducted for a US publication.

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- Compañía Nacional de Danza
- Nacho Duato
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Edited by Azlan Ezaddin

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