Three questions for Alejandro Cerrudo: “I like to surprise myself and the audience.”
The Czech National Ballet is bringing another online world premiere this week. Scheduled to be presented over the company’s YouTube channel on Thursday, March 25, Dos Solos Soles by the Spanish creator Alejandro Cerrudo is a collaborative piece based on the dancers’ own movement material. It is planned to enter the repertoire of the Czech National Ballet as part of the triple-bill Phoenix (alongside works by Douglas Lee and Cayetano Soto). Three questions concerning the upcoming premiere flew over the ocean, all the way to Seattle, where Alejandro Cerrudo is putting finishing touches to his brand-new work.
In the overview of your new work Dos Solos Soles you say it was born out of a creative dialogue with the dancers. What was it like to rehearse and explore new things in the studio together?
Before we started rehearsing, I told the dancers that I wanted to work in a collaborative manner. Sometimes I showed them the first step and asked them to suggest a next one. Sometimes I shaped their steps a little or asked them to do them differently, but their work and input were very welcome in the studio. At some point, I even wanted them to generate their own material that I could use as the foundation of my choreography (for example, the bones of all duets were made by the dancers). In this respect, they were very generous and it really warmed my heart, because dancers are not always willing to work this way. And though the process was challenging due to the restrictions, they made it really enjoyable for me and the way they contributed was great.
We would spend long hours in the studio together, so my inspiration came mostly from the dancers, as well as the music and the theme of Phoenix (which is an umbrella title for my work and two other works). In general, I don’t like putting labels on my works and saying "This is Alejandro Cerrudo style". I want each work to be different, I like to surprise myself and the audience so that they pay attention and wait for what is to come next.
What does the title Dos Soles Solos (Two Suns Alone) want to suggest? Did you come up with it before you started working with the dancers (as a kind of framework) or it emerged later during the process?
The title came about during the process. I liked the way the words sounded and how they rhymed, almost like a riddle. I think it is not necessary to connect the title to something specific or concrete, it can have a lot meanings. On the stage, we have too big structures with lights and they might make reference to the sun, or maybe to other things… I wanted to create a non-narrative, abstract piece, but I always had the Phoenix in my head and I listened to the music. Initially, I was considering orchestral music which could have been played live, but then I chose the quartet by Caroline Shaw. Her music has so many faces and shades, you can do a lot thing with it and it always grabs your attention. It changes constantly and evolves in a coherent manner which I find really exciting and helpful during the creative process.
What does it feel like to premiere a piece as an online event? Are you missing the theatre and live audiences?
I have mixed feelings, to be honest. First, I felt sad because the premiere was going to be online but now I’m really grateful that we could finish it. It was a very difficult and intense process, it was hard for everyone to stay motivated and inspired. I could barely see my fellow choreographers, Douglas Lee and Cayetano Soto. They are friends of mine so it was painful not to be able to talk to them. But although I think a video is not the way live theatre should be experienced, I’m happy that we have the opportunity to premiere the piece online. Dos Soles Solos actually represents that hard lockdown period, which makes it even more valuable for me. And now we have the video as a beautiful memory of what we were doing and experiencing.