From 11 to 16 January, the Italian-Canadian dancer and choreographer Gioconda Barbuto was invited to the National Ballet Academy to work with students from the pre-professional programme on developing a new version of Till Then, the work that was so successful at its premiere of Dancers of Tomorrow (the National Ballet Academy’s end-of-year performances).
Gioconda Barbuto is mainly known in the Netherlands for her phenomenal appearances with Nederlands Dans Theater 3, the ensemble founded by Jirí Kylián for dancers aged 40+, with whom she performed for eight years. She choreographed her first pieces before then. Barbuto is noted for her unique and personal approach. Her creations are never fixed, unchanging constructions, but works that take the individual qualities of the dancers as the starting point for each new performance.
Barbuto: ‘That’s why I’m very happy that Jean-Yves Esquerre has invited me back to the National Ballet Academy. I’ve been working with a new, bigger group of dancers. We started each day with movement workshops, in which the students were given various assignments. They were encouraged to develop new movement ideas as individuals, but also to respond to one another and to work as a collective’.
In the rehearsals of Till Then, the students learned phrases from the existing choreography, but then proceeded to investigate the movement material further. New ideas and sections – including a brand-new solo at the beginning – were added, and then the order was changed. This created a new ‘orchestration’ of the work or, as Barbuto calls it, a ‘personalised remix’. ‘When reviving a piece, I always have great respect for the work and ideas of the original cast, but I do want the personal style of the new group of dancers to show through clearly, so that each of them becomes recognisable in the piece’.
Barbuto looks back on her week in Amsterdam with great enthusiasm. ‘The dancers gave me a tornado of energy. I hope that they’ll also continue to develop the choreography – led by rehearsal director Machteld Van Acker – and really make the material their own. Last year’s cast did a fantastic job. I was overwhelmed when I saw how much new life they’d breathed into the construction we’d made together’.
The new version of Till Then will be performed on 7 and 8 July in Dancers of Tomorrow 2016, in Dutch National Opera & Ballet, in Amsterdam.
Tickets can be ordered through: www.operaballet.nl/nl/doublebill/2015-2016/voorstelling/dansers-van-morgen