LBB meets…Patrick de Bana

This July, choreographer Patrick de Bana will be coming to London’s Coliseum with two of his latest productions: Cleopatra/Ida Rubinstein performed by Ilze Liepa with dancers from the Maryinsky, Bolshoi, and the Kremlin Ballet, and a new production of Jane Eyre performed by the Shanghai Ballet.

Born in Hamburg to a German mother and Nigerian father, ballet dancer and choreographer Patrick de Bana (left) studied at the Hamburg Ballet School before joining the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 1987 where he quickly became principal dancer.  He left Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 1992 in order to join the Compania Nacional de Danza of Spain – National Dance Company of Spain – (directed by Nacho Duato) where he stayed as principal dancer for ten years.  His repertoire included works by Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Mats Ek and more; he also began developing artistic ties with the world of flamenco.  In 2003 Patrick formed his own company, Nafas Dance Company and won awards for Best Male Dancer and Best Dance Performance from the Generalitat of Valencia.  “Nafas means ‘breath’ in Turkish,” says Patrick.  “I gave my company this title because breath is life.  After my years with the Spanish National Dance Company I wanted to express myself in a new and unique way of my own; I wanted a new breath, a new soul.”

Ahead of his arrival, LBB was lucky enough to catch up with Patrick and discuss London, Ballet Russes, Lynn Seymour and how Russians still continue to show us how it’s done…

Hi Patrick, what brings you to London?
I love working with people from different cultures and places – it’s good for the spirit and soul to travel and meet people from around the world.

The Coliseum is a huge space to fill – did you have any worries about the size of the venue?
No, not at all.  In both countries – Russia and China – it’s normal to dance on big stages so I don’t think it will be a problem.  I just got back from Russia-Novosibirsk where I premiered by most recent production ‘The Rite of Spring’ on a huge stage, in fact it’s one of the biggest stages in the whole of Asia.  Coming from the company of Maurice Bejart I’m used to working and dancing on big stages – I must say, I like it a lot!

How important do you think it is to have been a dancer in terms of understanding choreography?
I think it’s a must to have been a dancer in order to be able to do choreography but not necessarily understand it.  I think there are many different ways of understanding things in life!

You have choreographed the London premiere of Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein. Did you have any concerns about re-imagining a ballet by such an iconic choreographer such as Fokine?
I didn’t want to just re-create the story of ‘Cleopatra’; that was my condition when I was asked to choreograph the ballet.  So I suggested to Andris Liepa – whom I met when he was a guest performer with Bejart Ballet back in the 1980s – that we concentrate on the woman who created the role of Cleopatra, in other words the enigmatic Ida Rubinstein.  What we’ve done with this ballet is to bring centrestage the way this wonderful woman – who was more of an actress than a dancer – turned herself into the character and role of Cleopatra.  All this also happened out of respect for such an iconic choreographer as Mikhail Fokine.

What is it about the piece that attracted you to choreograph it?
Well both Cleopatra and Ida Rubstein were amazingly strong and powerful women; they     knew perfectly what they wanted and what they didn’t want.  I’m interested in strong historical     figures anyway and I think they both had a lot to give…and a lot to take!

How do you put your own thumbprint on a piece such as Cleopatre?
By almost trying to imagine what happened ‘behind the scenes’; it’s a sort of ‘making of…’ the ballet about and around Cleopatra. Хочешь увидеть мастер-класс от знаменитостей фильмов для взрослых? Тогда переходи по ссылке и смотри ролики, в которых снимаются порно звезды . Здесь большая коллекция с актрисами, известными во всём мире, которые ебутся во все щели со всеми подряд, получая много оргазмов и сперму на лицо.

Ballet Russes has enjoyed a real revival in London recently – what do you think it is about them that captivates people so intensely?
The way that Russians do love, art, beauty and soul.

Cleopatre is one of the lesser-performed Russes ballets. Why do you think that is?Well, Ida Rubinstein was a special woman and maybe we just had to wait many years to find someone – Ilze Liepa – who was perfect for the role.

Which London based dancer would you love to work with?
Difficult to say…the dancer would certainly have to be very open minded but I would have loved to create for the amazing Lynn Seymour.

When you’re in London, what are your top things to do/see?
Make sure that the dancers are safe on stage and then maybe some shopping, galleries and museums.  I will definitely call some old friends and I love walking around the streets of London, it’s a great city. I love going to bookshops to look for treasures too.

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