Susana Pous back again to Cuba’s National Ballet

Susana Pous back again to Cuba’s National Ballet
Fecha de publicación: 
13 March 2023
Imagen principal: 

Susana Pous was born, raised and became a dancer in Spain... but she is a Cuban choreographer. She has developed a career in our country for over twenty years, and she has excelled in the national dance scene. Director of MiCompañía, a group with which she has obtained recognition from critics and the public, premieres —on March 17 with the National Ballet of Cuba— a piece in which she revisits an indisputable reference of local culture: La bella cubana.

Why another bella cubana?

—Well, in the musical conception, in charge of Eme Alfonso (with whom she usually works), one of the songs she performs is precisely La bella cubana, by José White. And it is, ultimately, to explore another way of understanding that referent. In the end, I returned to a female story. I believe that in my work, there is always that recreation of an essentially feminine world. And the context strengthens that inspiration, because I live surrounded by Cuban women.

—And how do you assume that cultural reference?

—I think that the approach is rather from a social perspective. Those familiar with my work know that I am very interested in investigating the human being, the conflicts of interpersonal relationships. And now I am here, I am a woman, and I believe that it is up to me as an artist, that it is my turn to offer my vision of femininity, of the role of women in society. And that society is the Cuban one. I am interested in the role of women today, and the possible responses to certain demands that are made to women, especially that of agreeing with a certain image of beauty.

—You are back in a company you are familiar with…

—This company was my gateway to Cuba. Twenty-five years ago, I came to this country invited by the National Ballet. It was the group that received me, that welcomed me. I never imagined that Cuba would become my home for a quarter of a century. When I entered the hall again, I remembered who Susana was at the moment I entered this building for the first time. She was a woman charged with emotions, with experiences. Assisting choreographer María Rovira, I arrived in an absolutely unknown city, in a country about which I was ignorant of many things. And now it is also my country. The place where I live. The place where I have raised my daughters. And here I developed as an artist. Here you can find the Cuban I fell I am right now. And the choreographer Susana. And I founded my own company in this country.

«So I feel in a very intimate way (which perhaps has nothing to do with what I am going to share with the public as an artist) that it is the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. That the National Ballet, that Viengsay Valdés and his team invite me, already as a choreographer, is like coming full circle. And this Susana is no longer that one».

—But you lead an auteur’s company and have been invited to a repertoire company, with dancers who have little or no resemblance to the ones you have in your group... What challenges does this circumstance pose for you?

-Many. Firstly, the number of dancers. I'm used to a small cast, which I know very well. They are almost always the same performers; I don't usually have double casts. My work is usually more intimate, more direct. There are longer investigation processes. And my dancers know me too, they know my dynamics, my obsessions. And suddenly you arrive at this company, where the logic is different. The dancers work with other choreographers, with other teachers; they go in and out of rehearsals, classes, dissimilar work processes. And they are many.

«Of course, I have to admit that this group has fully devoted itself to work. They have been opening up to my way of understanding dance. But I have also been very respectful. I have not come to impose myself. I'm interested in listening. I let them listen to me and vice versa. I want to understand and I aspire to be understood. And in the end, it is about building up a dialogue.

«This type of work encourages me a lot. It brings me certain changes of perspective. And it is something very positive in terms of the future. I have always said that the choreographer is also an apprentice.

«It is singular how at the beginning we saw each other from afar. We got closer, and now we know that we share a responsibility. I have a responsibility as an artist, that of the proposal. But they are the ones who are going to defend that proposal on stage. And to do so, they have to make that proposition on their own.

«The dynamics in the National Ballet is very fast. You have few hours for the assembly, you have to be very accurate. And that has put me in a very interesting spot.”

—To what extent do you think that the National Ballet of Cuba should assume the creation of choreographers that go beyond technique and academic style?

—I believe that it is not a matter of duty or responsibility. I believe that, right now, there is a will. And the most recent Alicia Alonso Havana International Ballet Festival opened a door. It would be great if so much creative energy that abounds out there was channeled down that path. I have always defended the idea that dance should be understood as a whole, in a unit that does not mean uniformity. Art cannot set limits. Art must always propose openings.

«The National Ballet of Cuba, of course, must defend an identity; it must honor a legacy, which is so important for dance and culture in the country and in the region. But, at the same time, it is healthy that it establishes bridges with other ways of assuming dance, with other aesthetics. And that is not to the detriment of their own identity.

«That is, ultimately, the essence of culture, which is always integration. And also risk. Because risk is inherent to evolution.

In addition to the work by Susana Pous, the program that will be presented for over two weekends in the Avellaneda Hall of the National Theater includes a piece by the Brazilian choreographer Ricardo Amarante, titled A fuego lento. This ballet showcases how the first feelings of love and desire grow in a person, like a fire that burns from within. Each scene shows a degree of emotional intensity, over the sensual music of Lalo Schifrin, Astor Piazzolla, Carlos Gardel and S. Kosugi.

Ricardo Amarante will be revived in Love, Fear, Loss, with music by Édith Piaf, Marguerite Monnot, Jacques Brel and Charles Dumont. You will also be able to appreciate one of the most successful works among the company's recent performances: Concerto DSCH, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, with music by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Performance will take place on March 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 26. Tickets are already being sold at the National Theater box office.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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