Feature: Recommended by... Assis Carreiro

Friday 12 March 2010

Assis CarreiroPhoto: David Parry Assis Carreiro is Artistic Director & CEO of DanceEast, the national dance agency for the East of England. Over the last decade she has initiated the Rural Retreats series for artistic directors, the Snape Dances season at Snape Maltings and driven the creation of the Jerwood DanceHouse in Ipswich. She previously worked for 12 years at the National Ballet of Canada. Here’s her pick of shows to catch in London in the next few weeks…

DanceEast started working with the amazing Danza Contemporanea de Cuba four years ago, through an Arts Council initiative, and now the company are coming back for a UK tour so everyone can get to see them. The company uses a mix of Graham technique and African dance and their own Cuban heritage to make this amazing hybrid that’s quite extraordinary. They work very hard under difficult conditions, and they have a wonderful spirit – I think that comes across the footlights. What they bring is technique and talent, but what they don’t have is choreographic development, so someone like [Cuban dancer/choreographer] George Cespedes is very special and needs nurturing. He has made Mambo 3XXI, an amazing, high-energy piece. You think you know the mambo but this is a very subversive, powerful work, which will wow audiences.

They’re also doing a Mats Ek piece, Casi Casa, which is a new configuration of an old work and brings out a different side of the Cuban dancers.

Something else I’m passionate about is developing work for young audiences. We’ve been doing a lot of it in Ipswich and those same shows are coming to Laban. Telling Tales is a show for ages four and up and has works by Enrique Cabrera, who’s based in Madrid, and Hélène Blackburn, from Canada. Work for children has to be sophisticated, not patronising and have the right pace. Kids are incredibly honest, they’ll say: ‘I’m bored’, whereas adults are terribly polite, even if we are terribly bored. The important thing to say about work for kids is that adults can enjoy it just as much and laugh as much as the children do.

Enrique’s own company Aracaladanza are coming to Sadler’s Wells at Easter with a work called Clouds, which is inspired by the paintings of Magritte. I’m a huge fan of Enrique’s work. I just think he’s a genius and understands a child’s sense of magic and wonder. His pieces are constantly surprising and take you on journeys. Sometimes they don’t make any sense but the magic of it is quite special and he shows that you don’t need to speak on stage in order to communicate. Dance can tell stories. Of course, ballet’s already proven that.

Royal Ballet 'La Fille mal gardee' Dancers: Carlos Acosta, Marianela Nunez. Photo: Bill Cooper Speaking of ballet, Frederick Ashton’s Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée is a glorious story from beginning to end. It’s the cleverest of ballets, I think. Ashton knew what he was doing and unravels a very funny tale. I don’t think comedy [in ballet] works very often, but it does here. Ashton was very good at that.

I worked in ballet for years, but now that I don’t, I have very different expectations. I just want to see an extraordinary performance. The Royal Ballet are a company who are respected around the world. When I went to Cuba in December they were still talking about the Royal Ballet’s visit [in July]. They’re an international company with world-class talent and you always know you’re going to get a world-class experience.

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Sadler’s Wells, 19-20 March
Telling Tales, Laban, 19 & 21 March Aracaladanza: Clouds, Sadler’s Wells, 2-3 April La Fille Mal Gardée, Royal Opera House, 9 March-28 April

Interview by Lyndsey Winship

March 2010

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