Interview with Jarek Cemerek

Interview with a dancer, teacher and successful choreographer Jarek Cemerek, not only about his collaboration with British company Balletboyz.

Taneční aktuality. cz asked Jarek Cemerek about his experience and impressions of his recent activities abroad – choreographic work for the company of Michael Nunn and William Trevitt Balletboyz in London and his pedagogical stay at Juilliard School in New York.

Can you describe the choreographic audition for Balletboyz?
It had two rounds. First they viewed videos and CVs sent by all participating choreographers. There were around 160 of them. As the result of the first round, five choreographers were invited to London for a week in October last year. Each choreographer had one day of the week to work with the company and create a short piece. Mine was Friday. On Saturday all five choreographies were presented to the management of the company who had the whole Sunday to decide. Only on Monday morning I learned that I got the job.

What were your expectations before you started the collaboration? Was there anything surprising or new for you?
I was looking forward a lot to the opportunity to create a piece for the Sadler´s Wells Theatre, where the company resides, and also to work with a bigger number of dancers. I was surprised by amazing professionalism of all people participating on the project. It never happened to me that I would have hard time trying to convince somebody to try this or that. For example the light designer was not only fulfilling all my wishes but he was also bringing his own ideas.

How did the rehearsing itself go?
The company is concentrating on classical and neoclassical dance, so it was quite challenging for me. If I wanted to make a contemporary piece, it was necessary to bring the dancers into this style. So in the beginning it was more about pedagogical work. I had to create the choreography for the whole company no matter how much the dancers were suitable for that style. That is why I often led the morning class because normally they only have a classical one. The whole rehearsal time I had was four weeks in November and a week in January.

Is working for all-male company specific in any way?
I don’t see any major difference between the work with male, female or mixed company. It was important for me that dancers master the style and overall tune that I wanted to have in this piece. Many dancers had problems with abandoning the ballet lightness to be able to achieve the grounding needed.

Originally you created a duet Void Amongst Humans, in which you dance yourself together with a Czech dancer Helena Arenbergerová. How did you have to rework it for Balletboyz?
I consider the theme of anonymity that I put into the form of a duet very important and I wanted to develop it for more dancers. My wish was fulfilled; from the original duet I kept the framework and I also used lots of movements. But the major difference was that I was not dancing in the new piece, so I had the opportunity to watch everything from the outside and at the same time really understand the movement speech of the dancers.

What was the English audience’s reaction?
I think the reception was good. The applause at the opening night pleased me.

Will the cooperation with Balletboyz continue? What are your plans in the field of choreography?
The company management expressed an interest in further collaboration, but there is nothing in particular yet. Concerning my plans, I am open to all offers but I see my main artistic domain in pedagogy. I’ve just created a solo for Juilliard School student who’s preparing with it for an audition for Nederlands Dans Theater.

How did you get the offer to teach at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York and how was it? Are students special in any way?
In summer 2010 I was teaching at a dance festival in Dresden. Two of the participants were students from Juilliard School who were awarded to go to Dresden. They came with the idea of me going to teach to New York and they asked the director of the school. In the end he offered me to teach the last year students. The work with them was amazing. You don´t meet such dancers every day. I don’t have only talent in mind, but also their overall approach to the training from which they try to gain maximum. If they are satisfied with the class they let the teacher know immediately, so as a teacher you get positive energy back right away. At the same time, and I consider this very important, these spontaneous reactions of students keep you active and make you develop yourself constantly. You cannot get comfortable, or you lose the job - work contracts are only signed for one year.

 

Translation: Kristina Durczaková

Photo from the audition: Tristram Kenton

By: Kristina Durczaková
 

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