Zaragoza was his birthplace, but he is a world citizen, because he has taken his artist talent to quite a few places on the Planet. Dancer Víctor Ullate, 66, will present the show ‘Seguiriya-Tres-AprèsToi-Bolero’ on January 31st and February 1st on Cuyás stage. He honors his master Maurice Bèjart with Beethoven’s rhythm, and he takes audience to a cabaret to honor ballets in the 1920s. Ullate confesses he is in love with Canary Islands.
Dancer, choreograph and manager of Víctor Ullate Ballet-Comunidad de Madrid
“At Cuyás Theatre you will witness a show full of glamour and positive energy”
LA PROVINCIA / LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, 15 January 2014
What will audience find in Seguiriya-Tres- Après Toi-Bolero at Cuyás Theatre on January 31st and February 1st?
It will be a fantastic show, full of glamour and positive energy. It has been successful in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza. Firstly, Seguiriya, the name is already very clear, it’s a variety of flamenco where I introduce Víctor Ullate Ballet-Comunidad de Madrid to the audience, how it’s like, the energy it’s got. It is a choreography that dates back to 2001 and it has been always successful, but just few people saw it. And once I recovered it, it was shown that it’s so updated. Secondly, Tres, which is a ménage à trois, two women and a man, with Beethoven’s sonata number 14 [Moonlight], number 2 and 5. And Après Toi, which is about the second movement of his Symphony number 7. It’s so touching and when my master Maurice Bèjart had just passed away, I listened to it and said: “One day I will do a choreography to honor you.
In Bolero piece, do you establish a contrast between feminity and masculinity and you honor to ballets in the 1920s?
Exactly. It was a beautiful decade, of glamour where dance was thriving. [Maurice] Ravel was inspired by the Dance of Candil in Spain. He came to Madrid and he was amazed and he composed his Boléro . I just refer to reality: it’s an introduction to a cabaret, and inside there is a little theatre where the main couple turns up and interact with the rest of the cast.
Was that era a milestone in the idea of dance as something limited to women, but also for men and it broke stereotypes?
In dance men have been always behind women, and it was an era where men were taken into account with the image of [Vaslav] Nijinsky and [Sergei] Diaghilev’s ballets, which were in the worldwide limelight. It was a company of great artists: Karsávina, Nijinska, Nijinsky. Diaghilev made his company intellectual and the attraction then wherever they went.
Do you like Canary Islands?
I love them! I’m in love with the Archipelago: La Palma, El Hierro, Lanzarote. I became friends with César Manrique. I’ve been so many times to La Graciosa, which is my favorite island. I’ve got great friends in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Is there anything else in other artistic fields dance should experience?
As other arts, dance has progressed so much. It’s the most complete one because it has got image, colour, music, movement. And dance is thriving, but in Spain it’s going through a tough time.
Regarding this point, has 21% cultural VAT affected as much as or even more to dance than film industry and/or theatre?
It’s really bad. For all arts it has been a severe blow, because the first thing people save money on is superficial things, because you first eat, and then you enjoy yourself. And in order to go to the theatre, you need a budget and people are in two minds. Having said that, as for me, everybody wants to see the company, they appreciate the value and the name that has worldwide. But it’s not the case of many companies, that have had to shut. What happens is when you have to be paid, you earn less money, taxes overwhelm you, that means the situation is very bad. It’s a private company supported by Comunidad de Madrid, and we manage to get by, but we don’t cover the 100% of the salaries. So when you make a production, you always tight your belt and you try to do your best. But the fact of keeping going and getting by is what really matters.
When you have performed abroad, which country would you prefer and why?
In Germany, England and France people love culture. I’m very fond of Peru where we have been to few months ago. In Colombia theatre was absolutely crowded and in Mexico we danced in front of 14.000 people.
“Nuréyev said to a dancer: ‘Tell Ullate to teach me how to turn around when he finishes the class”
Could you define classic dancing masters such as Rudolf Nuréyev and Misha Baryshnikov?
Rudolf was a dancing legend and my unique idol. Baryshnikov has been a classmate of mine, someone Ive admired as well. Both have their strengths. They have been two great dancing figures. Nuréyev came to dance to Ballet of the 20th Century, and in one of the ballrooms he saw me turn around and told a classmate: “Tell Ullate to teach me how to turn around when he finishes the class”. Then I began to laugh, I looked at him and I said: “After the class, we will talk”, as though I meant “but how on Earth do you want me to teach you if you already knows everything”. We really befriended.
Which award are you specially fond of?
Audience is the best medal I can win, the fact that they leave the theatre pleased with the show and remember it forever. That is precious.
If you had not been a dancer, which career would you have chosen?
I love painting and sculpture. I think I might have been a painter.