Arts & Entertainment

Spanish ballet director Joaquin De Luz: Art shouldn’t conform to trends

By Jaime Ortega Carrascal

Bogota, Jan 25 (EFE).- Spanish ballet choreographer and artistic director Joaquin De Luz, whose company will be performing its version of “Giselle” this week in the Colombian capital, said artistic creation should not conform to trends but rather focus on providing an emotional experience to audiences.

The director of the Spanish National Dance Company (CND), which will give four performances starting Thursday at Bogota’s Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo, said in an interview with Efe that while he may be a “bit old-fashioned” he does not believe works of classical ballet need to be completely overhauled to appeal to younger spectators.

“You have to understand the social movement and era we’re living in, but also not forget you need to deliver emotion to audiences,” De Luz said. “I believe if you move someone emotionally, if you truly reach them, they won’t forget it, no matter what age they are,” even if “they’re on the phone all day” or are addicted to technology.

The ballet director added that he is looking to offer a viable entertainment alternative in a modern world “bombarded by technology.”

“I believe it’s extremely worthwhile to sit in a theater and enjoy a work like ‘Giselle,’ if it’s well-interpreted. It’s priceless, and that’s my philosophy for attracting new audiences, not us conforming to what’s trendy, but just the opposite,” De Luz said.

After a 23-year track record as a soloist dancer at the Pennsylvania Ballet (now known as the Philadelphia Ballet), the American Ballet Theatre (in New York City) and the New York City Ballet, De Luz returned to Spain in 2019 – six months prior to the onset of the pandemic – to assume his current role as director of the Spanish National Dance Company.

In its version of a masterwork of the classical ballet canon that was first performed in 1841 at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris, the CND presents a “Giselle” viewed through the lens of Spanish Romanticism, inspired by the poetry of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and permeated with other traditional Spanish elements.

“‘Giselle’ has always moved me. This ballet has always been an important part of my career as an artist, as an interpreter. It was always my dream to do my own version, to do a version for the National (Dance) Company,” he said. “And what better way than to connect the dots with the work of Becquer, a quintessential Romantic poet, a quintessential romantic ballet. So I’m really looking forward to imbuing it with that Spanish identity.”

Although “it’s a work that purists say shouldn’t be touched,” De Luz said he did “a bit of work as a playwright” because he wanted to “remove some of the dust that such an old, traditional ballet has.”

De Luz said although cultural activity “is recovering quite a bit” now that the worst of the pandemic is apparently over, it is a sector that needs more support everywhere.

“Culture can always have more support; I believe all the support provided to culture is never enough because a society without culture is a society that’s quite impoverished,” the ballet director said. “I think a lot of other things are prioritized and I think a country’s wealth lies in its culture.” EFE


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