Ely Regina Hernández was dazzled with the dresses of *A rose for Miss Emily* (choreography by Agnes de Mille, premiered by the National Ballet of Cuba at the XXII Havana International Ballet Festival); particularly the ones in the scene of Miss Emily in front of the mirrors. The force of her image inspired her. And the way the light read the color on stage. She wanted to do a ballet about red in those dresses. And she did it: * The Shape of Red *, which is presented in the current season of the National Ballet of Cuba at the National Theater.
“Of course, it would be very superficial to do a whole ballet on a piece of clothing. That was the starting point. I had to do some research on the color: its implications, its projection, its meaning for people, its presence in nature. Moreover, I thought of how many words can make you think of red. And so, I started putting together a first structure.
"I can't even talk about plot, because this is a ballet mostly abstract. An Aristotelian story is not told. There’s, in any case, a common thread, embodied in a dancer.
“Therefore, it’s a work that is very open to many interpretations. I’m amazed at how many readings it has had, and that excites me. But at first I wanted to dance for the dress. Beyond even a gender mark. That's why in choreography men also wear skirts. Because in reality it’s not about men or women: they are beings that wear red”.
—And what is red for you?
“That question, of course, I have asked myself many times. I can not escape first from the common place: it’s passion, it’s a form of love. But it can also be anger, aggressiveness. And it can be strength...
“In nature there are many elements that refer to red. And nature does not believe in stereotypes. I didn't focus on one thing only when I did the choreography either. What if I told you that red gives me peace? The relationship with a color is so personal... I don't get attached; I open up many possibilities. What’s true is that it’s a strong color, with a lot of stage presence”.
—You say there’s no story, but there are underlinings. What did you want to highlight on stage?
—I wanted a choreography that highlighted the group work. That the group come together in a single body, with a single intention, a single impulse, as if responded to a single brain... although each one contributed its singularity.
“And I was also encouraged by a very plastic vocation. I wanted that on stage people could think of a painting, the process of a painting. It's as if dancers, in some passages, were painting the scene.
“It's a matter of recreating an atmosphere. I’m interested in getting the spectators plunge into a dreamlike realm. I have my own images. But they are mine, I want the public to invent theirs”.
Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff