Alejandro Cerrudo is a dynamic new choreographer whose unconventional work keeps him on the cutting edge of contemporary dance. I had the pleasure of chatting over the phone with Mr. Cerrudo who was busy in Chicago rehearsing for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s upcoming performance of his new work Little Mortal Jump that has its Los Angeles premier on 21 June 2013 at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Cris Franco: I know you were born in Madrid, Spain where you trained with the Real Conservatorio Professional de Danza de Madrid. Did you come from one of those European dancing families?
Alejandro Cerrdudo: Oh, no! There were no dancers in my family except for my older sister who began taking lessons when I was around eight. I only began taking lessons because I was jealous of her. She’d come home and talk about everything that had gone on in class and, well, I was a jealous kid. It wasn’t one of those kids who took one ballet class and thought, “Oh, I have to now dance!” For me it was kinda’ – random. Not love at first sight at all. It took me years to become passionate about dance.
CF: How did you finally become “passionate” about dance?
AC: Very slowly. At first, I just wanted be as good as I could be. I finished my training at age 17 when I passed all the formal exams. In Spain, exams are taken after eight years of study. I continued to train for a year or so, did my first audition and soon thereafter – I was a professional dancer!
CF: I’m hoping people will go one YouTube and check out some of your work because it’s really beyond description. How do you describe your dance creations?
AC: I don’t. I don’t like it when critics try and describe it either. I mean, it’s their job and they’re welcome to try. And if the audience wants to describe my work – good luck. But describing dance? That’s why we dance and don’t talk, because what we’re doing can’t be explained verbally. I can’t avoid others doing it but I don’t like to label my work. I like to surprise the audience. I’m a choreographer who likes to reinvent himself.
CF: What do you mean, “reinvent” yourself?
AC: Sometimes, when artists succeeded at a certain style or subject – they keep exploring the same thing. I like to shift artistic focus very often. I’m a new choreographer, my list of credits is short — yet, I already have works that are very different from each other. I’m not just doing what’s already worked for me. I don’t have a formula that I keep using to create.
CF: What do you look for in a dancer?
AC: I look for someone that can adapt quickly. So if they aren’t giving me exactly what I want, they’re open minded enough to take a correction, change their dancing and translate it into their bodies.
CF: Do you think being a Latino informs your work?
AC: Yes, it does – but not in a directly visual way. I don’t make references to flamenco or la cultura directly. But, me being Spanish and raised in Spain always stays with me – even if I wanted to ignore it. I don’t think you can tell I’m Spanish from looking at my work — but maybe it’s the way I work, the way I talk to the dancers. I’m sure my culture impacts that.
CF: Certainly in ballet, Latinos are the new Russians, providing the world the young top talent. Are Latinos impacting contemporary dance?
AC: Yes. One of the biggest forces in contemporary dance is Nacho Duato from Valencia, Spain. And there are now many younger choreographers who might one day be as influential as Nacho.
CF: You’re known for working very collaboratively with your dancers. What qualities do you feel make a good choreographer?
AC: I don’t know. There are so many factors. You have to have talent and a little bit of luck is always important in life. Choreography isn’t about creating steps. You have to be a psychologist in a way. You’re trying to communicate to so many people – and you want them to give you their best work. So you can create your best work.
CF: I know you’re working with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in collaboration with Alonzo King LINES Ballet on a shared program. What are you contributing to the program?
AC: I’m presenting Little Mortal Jump. It’s a shifting piece. I’m very inspired by films, where the story jumps from one plot to a completely different plot. Little Mortal Jump is fun, humorous – but it also gets serious. I don’t think you’ll be bored. I’m happy with it and most choreographers are very difficult to please.
CF: Little Mortal Jump has pleased lots of viewers and L.A. is really excited about finally getting to see it live. What advice do you have for the parents whose children want a dance career?
AC: Dance is great. It teaches you about your body, it teaches you discipline. Ballet is a good place to start no matter what type of dancing you want to do. And if your teacher tells you that you’ll never be a ballerina, that doesn’t mean anything. Life is too short. Go for it!
We’re very glad Alejandro Cerrudo went for it and is soon bringing us his compelling and unexpected visions. To catch the upcoming Los Angeles premier of Little Mortal Jump:
Hubbart Street + Lines Ballet at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, (Friday) June 21 @ 7:30pm; (Saturday) June 22 @ 7:30pm; (Sunday) June 23 @ 2pm; tickets $28 and up; www.musiccenter.org