September 1, 2009
You’ve been a professional dancer and choreographer for almost 20 years. Does that “interim” make the artistic director position feel like an audition? When the selection committee interviewed me, I told them I’m not interested in being “interim” artistic director. I’m looking at this long term. This is a timely moment, when the company has to change its face. And if they’re not careful they’ll miss it. Ballet BC was completely dismantled. So what we’re building is a new company.
The ballet laid off 38 dancers and staff. It owed as much as $600,000. How are its finances now? It’s cleared its debt but has no credit either. It’s a clean but minimal slate.
What will be the first work you write on that slate? Our first show, a collaboration between the National Ballet and Ballet BC, will be performed on September 30. I’m creating a new work for the Ballet BC dancers to perform that evening. As for the rest, all I can say right now is that the new company launches in April 2010.
What’s your vision for the new company? I want a school for contemporary dance attached to us. A choreographic workshop. An apprentice company. And tours between shows, across Canada and to festivals in Holland, Montpellier, Edinburgh. And The Nutcracker, you know, is a huge thing, but we could build a version that’s our own instead of just importing it.
Sounds like the dancers would have full-time jobs for once. When I joined this company as a dancer in 1990 we were paid for 22 weeks. I want to eventually get the dancers up to a 52-week contract.
How will you make your mark as artistic director? My vision for Ballet BC is a curated company with one or more resident choreographers.
That’d be a change from John Alleyne’s tenure. Since he took the reins in 1992, he was creating much of the content himself. He did a fantastic job. We wouldn’t be sitting here today discussing the future of Ballet BC without his contributions. But I’d rather build a company that makes use of several choreographers.
What’s your impression of So You Think You Can Dance? It’s great. We live in a society where people sit in chairs all day; we’re going to deal with a major crisis of disconnect with our bodies. So any way people can get interested in movement is a good thing.
Are the dancers on that show actually good? They’re great in short bursts. You see moments of very real, raw talent. My question is whether they could sustain that over something longer.