Один из хореографов New York City Ballet Эдвард Льянг в феврале 2009 года специально для новосибирского театра оперы и балета поставил одноактный балет на музыку Филиппа Гласса «Бессмертие в любви». ТАЙГА.info предлагает интервью с ним на английском языке. Edward Liang, one of the American choreographers working in New York City Ballet, visited Novosibirsk in February. He came here to make a short ballet called «Mortal Beloved» on Philip Glass’ music. TAYGA.info is giving you an opportunity to read the English version of the interview.
«Mortal Beloved» for 12 days
Edward Liang was born in Taiwan, to Chinese parents. Later his family emigrated from Taiwan to the United States. In 1998 he became a soloist for the troupe of New York City Ballet. The dancer still confesses that there was the time when he had a part-time job in McDonald’s restaurant. Liang has been regarded as one of the newest choreographers in New York City Ballet for recent five-four years. He has made ballets all around the world, he has been working as a choreographer and a dancer with different European and American troupe. Edward Liang is well-known for Novosibirsk audience – he staged «Whispers in the Dark» ballet on Philip Glass’ music – suite «Amazon Waters». «Mortal Beloved» will be performed on 26-27th February. «Musica Aeterna», the orchestra conducted by Alexander Novikov, will accompany the ballet.
TAYGA.info: You have been working for New York City Ballet since 1998. When did you become a choreographer?
- I have danced not only in New York City Ballet, but also in Nederlands Dans Theater, on Broadway. I have been working in the USA and abroad. I have been a choreographer for five-six years.
TAYGA.info: Who can you point out as your teachers? Who influenced you?
- I believe that everyone I have worked with from ballet to modern dance, different choreographs that I have seen always influence me. I can’t think of any person who influences me. I can name George Balanchine, John Robins, Jiri Kilian.
TAYGA.info: So you try not to trace any tradition when you create a new ballet, but is it your own vision?
- I’m hoping it’s my original. I mean with any sort of choreographs you can see the influence of different choreographs. But I’m hoping that I make my own work instead of making someone else’s work.
TAYGA.info: How often do you stage your ballets?
- It really depends…Some years I made three ballets, sometimes I make five. It really depends. I try to make not more than five-six ballets a year, because it’s too much.
TAYGA.info: What are favorite theatres where you’ve staged your ballets on?
- I think the advantage of being a choreographer is see your ballets in different theatres. I feel lucky that I’m able to have ballets in different theatres. I love Opera House in San-Francisco, Lincoln Center in New York and a huge theatre in Novosibirsk. Especially in theatre like this you can see the ballets so much. So when Igor Zelensky invited me to stage my first ballet here I was excited because I was told about it.
TAYGA.info: What exactly did you like about this theatre?
- One is the size of the stage. It’s beautiful to play with, because you don’t have limits, and how far you can push your dancers. And it’s better to have a bigger theatre, because a bigger stage you can always make smaller, and you cannot ever make a smaller stage bigger. Even though it’s such a huge stage, the audience is not 3000 or 5000 people, so you can maintain a contact between them and the stage. That’s very rare.
TAYGA.info: Have you ever worked with any theatres in Russia?
- I haven’t worked with any theatres in Russia. My ballets have gone in some theatres, but I haven’t been there. My ballets went in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. I’ve met the directors and I hope someday they’ll ask me.
TAYGA.info: Do you work with some large ballets or just small ones?
- The longest ballet I’ve done is 35 minutes. I often collaborate with Chinese composer Tan Dun in Shanghai to make a large ballet.
TAYGA.info: When did you have the idea «Immortal beloved»?
- It started when Igor asked me to do any ballet. I have had these pieces of music for almost six years, and I’ve been waiting for the right project to use the pieces of my favorite music. At first, I was hesitating because my last ballet was on Phil Glass’ music. And these pieces are also on Phil Glass’. I think the two pieces completely sound different. That’s why I continued with what I’ve chosen for this ballet, because it fits the story.
TAYGA.info: Is this story «Immortal beloved» abstract or does it have a plot?
- For me, I always want the audience to make up their own story. But I definitely have the story for myself to create every ballet. Of course, I always have the idea of what I want to pass to the audience. You know, one person looks at the painting and sees something, another looks at the painting and sees something else. The main goal that I want is the people to feel something. If they are making up the story that means that they are involved, they feel something.
TAYGA.info: When did you start to think about the title?
- We finished the ballet, and the title appeared.
TAYGA.info: How long have you been preparing the choreography and the dancers?
- We finished it in 12 days, though it is a complex ballet. I had some ideas how to construct the ballet. I was aware of music structure; I learnt the music inside out. I do like collaboration in a studio between me and the dancers, but I’d like to produce the steps myself. I’d like to know how it all works.
TAYGA.info: So improvisation on the part of dancers is not much?
- Not much, because my body is able to experiment in a studio myself. At least I can feel what’s comfortable, what is not.
TAYGA.info: The modern dance is new for Novosibirsk theatre. How difficult is it for them? Must something be corrected?
- Well, I suppose, it is something new for them, but there are such beautiful dancers here. They are very intelligent. I don’t think that something is missing , because it is my job as a choreographer to help, to guide them, to teach them how I want them to construct this piece. If I do feel that something is missing, I go back in the situation. I figure out what I haven’t done to make it work.
TAYGA.info: These ballets are on Phil Glass’ music. Is there any other ballets on this music?
- Yes, the ballet I did for Jeffery last year was also on Phil Glass’ music, but it was Phil Glass and Thomas Newman, so it was a mixture of two composers. Right after “Immortal beloved” premiere there will be ballets on Ottorino Respighi’s music, and the next one will be Bach. So I try to use as many composers as possible, but I have a special affinity towards Phil Glass. In my opinion, his music rhythmically is very easy on the body. Pieces of the music does not just repeat over and over again, I hear beautiful melody. It touches me, it is so heartbreaking, it makes me feel.
TAYGA.info: What role does the light play in your ballets? How important it is? is it just an aid or a separate character of ballets?
- It is a big component, because I believe in creating a ballet you are making a complete visual sensory experience. That is the reason why I chose a completely black stage in the opening of «Whispers in the Dark». I want to make sure that audience really open their sensors and their mind. So when the dance starts they’ll be ready. It takes time to get involved in what is on the stage.
TAYGA.info: Does the technical part of Novosibirsk theatre help you to achieve your aims?
- I think, that is my job to be able to work in any theatre. Every theatre is different, the size of the theatre is also. I love working here with Igor as I get full support. You do not realize how many people are taken to create the ballet from the costumiers to the lighter, to the administration, to the publicity, to the choreographers. All of us try our best to do the best job we can, we put as much time as possible to make the best product. That is why I love coming here, because there is a type of integrity.
Alina Khabirova, photo by Evgeny Ivanov