Exclusive interview with Choreographer Patrick de Bana

In July and August two very special productions will be performed at the London Coliseum: Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein from Les  Saisons Russes du XX1e Siecle and Jane Eyre from Shanghai Ballet Company. Both productions have been choreographed by German born choreographer, Patrick de Bana and I recently got to chat with him about his forthcoming work.

Through a surprisingly clear phone line I managed to interview Patrick whilst he is working on a production in Russia. What struck me first and throughout the interview is how lovely Patrick seemed, he was so happy to discuss his work and it was evident within minutes of the conversation how much he loves choreographing.

I wanted to found out a bit about the productions and what we should expect from them. Patrick explained that Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein  and Jane Eyre are very different. Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein is a tribute to the enigmatic actress/dancer Ida Rubinstein (1885-1960) and star of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Patrick described the production as a ‘patchwork of dancers, combining them together to have everything’. He went on to describe his admiration for Ida Rubinstein, ‘She is a wonderful dancer and actor’. He continued to explain that he likes to learn from experience as a choreographer, to be connected to life and to find somebody that is not acting but being the role was special. He described Ida Rubinstein’s performance as ‘like a movie’ and this was his aim for the ballet.

Jane Eyre on the other hand, Patrick explained, is an English novel that he fell in love with when he watched the movie only weeks before being approached to produce it with the Shanghai Ballet Company. Patrick has adapted Brontë’s famous novel to put the character of Bertha Mason, Edward Rochester’s ‘mad’ wife, as more of a focus in the ballet. Patrick stated that without her it would be just another love story and she is the catalyst for this famous plot. He suggested that the character is a caged animal that is pivotal to the drama and he wanted his ballet to show this.

When chatting to Patrick I wanted to find out what made him tick as a choreographer and straight away this was very clear. I asked him what his biggest challenge was when choreographing, to which he answered ‘Trying to do my best, I am person that puts 100% concentration into a production’ and that ‘trying to live in the moment’ was his greatly aim in life.

I asked him what he loved most of his work and it was to be a contemporary storyteller. Patrick discussed his love for history, which is what drew him to such classical stories, and that from his training as a dancer he had learnt about Ballet Russes and its history and so was thrilled to be able to work with such classical dancers and such great stories. He compared the Russian ballerinas of the past to the supermodels of today.

When I asked how Patrick transitioned from dancer to choreographer, he laughed and told me that he decided years ago that when he quit dancing he wanted to become a dog breeder as he loves dogs and thought it would be a nice change but that a friend got him to attend a workshop and he intensely fell in love with choreographing so this is what he wants now.

To sum up, I asked Patrick what the audience should expect from both productions to which he simply responded ‘quality and emotions’. We spoke a little further and he went on to state that the audience will find ‘people doing what they love to do’.

After speaking with him, you can’t help but get excited to see the productions, I think they will be a real treat with classical stories told beautifully and intertwined with the history of the ballet.

Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein from Les Saisons Russes du XX1e Siecle returns to the LONDON COLISEUM – July 16TH-20TH 2013

Dolly Williams

Bulletin Pointe