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As a veritable tenth anniversary present for Danse Danse, the season welcomes for the first time – and as a Canadian exclusive for 2007-2008 – the Compañía Nacional de Danza under the direction of Nacho Duato. The choreographer, who expresses the classical vocabulary in a contemporary and profoundly moving language, is very popular among Montrealers. They know his work from his three visits to town with his company (1994, 1999 and 2001), and several of his works feature in the repertoire of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. A fan of the appreciative audiences he finds here, Duato insisted on including Montreal in his company’s North American tour. We’re already excited to be welcoming Nacho Duato and the 30 outstanding dancers of the Compañía Nacional de Danza in a program, carefully selected by Danse Danse, made up of Castrati, Txalaparta and White Darkness: three pieces, three moments of grace.

The program
Castrati (2002) harks back to a dark page in musical history. When sopranos were at the height of their popularity, women were banned from singing in church. To fill the need for sopranos, young boys were castrated. As barbaric as it may seem, the practice is not so far in the past – the last castrato died in the twentieth century. Castrati is a deeply moving work danced by 9 men and immersed in the music of Vivaldi and Karl Jenkins. “The Vivaldi pieces, especially, underpin the horror of an aesthetic ritual that gives masculinity a woman’s voice and, at the end of the piece, drenches with blood the hand of the one chosen for sacrifice” (Il Sicolo XIX, Italy)

Also on the program is Txalaparta, a spirited piece for 14 dancers whose title refers to a traditional Basque percussion instrument. Its origins date back to the ceremonies that accompanied cider making, when craftsmen would beat the apples to extract the juice. According to Kepa Junkera, who plays the instrument on the piece’s soundtrack, “We have the chance to see how dance, wood, metal and stone come together to delight the public with the sounds and movements unknown to them thus far but which existed inside of them all along.”

Finally, the company will present White Darkness, a piece for 10 dancers premiered in Madrid in 2001 and danced to original music by Karl Jenkins. A frank reflection on artificial paradises, “Powdered sand runs like a thread through White Darkness, […] white as the drug that eats up, or rather buries, a life, an hour as dreadful as the fate of man” (La Repubblica, Italy). A total delight(Le Figaro). This piece is part of the repertory at Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris since November  2006.

Nacho Duato
Born in Valencia, Nacho Duato started his ballet training at eighteen at the Rambert School in London. He went on to study at Maurice Béjart’s dance centre, Mudra, in Brussels, then continued his training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York. In 1980, he danced with the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm for a year before joining the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), then directed by Jirí Kylián, a choreographer who has had a strong influence on him

Encouraged to turn to choreography himself, Nacho Duato created Jardí Tancat in 1983 to the music of fellow Spaniard Maria del Mar Bonet, which won first prize at the International Choreographic Workshop at Cologne the same year. In 1988, he became Resident Choreographer for the NDT, remaining there for two years before returning to Spain to head up the Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND). Since then he has created works for the CND, and many of his ballets are in the repertoires of companies such as the Cullberg Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Deutsche Oper Ballet, the Australian Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Ballet Gulbenkian, the Finnish Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Ballet and the American Ballet Theater.

“Nacho Duato is among the best choreographers currently working with major classical companies. And his Madrid-based company ranks at the top by the beauty of its dancers, their brilliant technique and their discipline.” (Le Figaro)


Compañía Nacional de Danza
Since 1990, when Nacho Duato was invited to take the helm of Spain’s national ballet in Madrid by the Spanish culture ministry’s National Institute for Performing Arts and Music, the company has developed its own unique personality, one that has been celebrated on the international stage. Mr. Duato brings with him his particular vision of contemporary dance, backed by a solid grounding in classical and lyrical ballet. He highlights his dancers’ expressiveness and musicality as well as their ability to communicate intimately with the audience.

His academic history and exposure to the works of major dance figures Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe and Mats Ek are reflected in the company. And not only does he set up a dialogue between classical technique and modern and contemporary idioms, he also incorporates some fundamentally Spanish characteristics into his dance: spontaneity, the Latin temperament and the influence of Mediterranean nature.

As the director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza, M. Duato was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French ambassador to Spain in 1995 and received the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts in Spain in 1998.

At the Stuttgart Opera, he won the Benois de la Danse, one of the most prestigious choreography awards, presented by the International Dance Association for his work Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness (2000). More recently, Nacho Duato won the National Dance Award (2003) in the New Work category, presented by the ministry of culture of the Spanish government.

Duration: 115 minutes
Txalaparta - 27:14
Intermission - 20 minutes
Castrati -
Intermission - 20 minutes
White Darkness - 21:33


Compania National de Danza
Artistic Director: Nacho Duato

Castrati (2002)
Choreography: Nacho Duato
Music: Antonio Vivaldi (Nisi Dominus RV 608; Stabat Mater RV 621;
Salve Regina RV 616; Concerto RV 439 «la notte», Karl Jenkins (palladio)
Sets: Nacho Duato
Costumes: Francis Montesinos
Light Design: Brad Fields

Txalaparta (2001)
Choreography: Nacho Duato
Music: Kepa Junkera and Oreka TX
Sets: Jaffar Chalabi
Costumes: Nacho Duato
Light Design: Nicolás Fischtel (A.A.I.)

White Darkness (2001)
Choreography: Nacho Duato
Music: Karl Jenkins (Adiemus Variations, String Quartet n° 2)
Sets: Jaffar Chalabi
Costumes: Lourdes Frías
Light Design: Joop Caboort

Photos 1 & 2 Fernando Marcos (White Darkness), photo 3 Michael Slobodian (Txalaparta)