Michel Rodriguez was one of three finalists at the 2010 A.W.A.R.D. show in Chicago, and his duet "Moi Aussi" is in performance again September 23 and 24 at The Other Dance festival. Rodriguez himself performs the duet with Jessie Gutierrez as part of the Hedwig Dances presentation, and the work's dramatic -- and athletic --- complexity suggests an already rich background of dance experience, even in the early stages of this choreographer's career. We asked Rodriguez about his days in the professional Dance community in Cuba. Here's some of what he told us about the experiences that inform his work:
"I started my professional career in 2003 after graduating from the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana. Right away I was chosen to be a member of Danza Comtemporanea de Cuba, the largest dance company in the country, and became a principal dancer in 2006. There I worked with several European choreographers --- only European, because there was no way that an American choreographer would go to Cuba because of the political situation. The first European choreographer I worked with was Jan Linkens, from the Netherlands, who was working with the company for the second time. The production was “Compas” and it was a huge succes in Cuba. What surprised me the most from Jan was his musicallity, he’ll know the score of the music perfectly, like a musician, before starting to work on the movement. I also danced another work from him, “Folia”, a piece that marked a new era for the company, the opening to a more european style, but still keeping the Cuban essence.
"My experience with the Finnish choreographer Kenneth Kvarnstrom was really important in my early career. He came to Cuba to teach a two week worksho, and to do auditions for a later work, “Carmen”, for seven men . Although I wasn’t chosen for the piece because I was too young, the encouragement and special recognition he gave me opened a lot of doors, and later, I did finally dance the piece.
"Samir Akika is originally from Algeria; he's a French citizen and is based in Germany. It was Samir who really taught us to see dance from another perspective, to give importance to simple details. Samir was not originally a dancer, he started in the dance world at the age 25 or 26, and if you ask him if he's a choreographer he'll say no, more of a dance editror. He doesn't exactly create the movement, working with him is based on improvisation and setting movement phrases. Everything comes from the dancer, it’s lots of brain work, it’s not easy, and yes, everything is real. I think this is his gift, he can squeeze out of you the best you have. I premiered two of his productions, “Nayara, Mira pero no toques” and “Loca, Mierda”, which actually premiered in Germany."
For more information on Rodriguez, you can follow him at the Hedwig Dances site, and Michel will be teaching a special "Lighter Than Air Dance Technique" seminar November 8 through 19. Rodriguez will be premiering a new work on November 4 for a series of performances (November 4-6 and November 11-12) of a combined concert with Same Planet Different World.