Iratxe is originally from San Sebastian, Spain where she attended the Conservatorio Superior de Musica before graduating from the John Cranko Schule Stuttgart, Germany. She danced with Basel Ballet and Ballet Gulbelkian before acting as muse to Nacho Duato in the Compañia Nacional de Danza Madrid, Spain, having many roles and pieces originally set on her. Iratxe danced with Lyon Opera Ballet before becoming a member of Nederlands Dance Theatre under Director Anders Hellstrom. She has worked with choreographers such as Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Jacopo Godani, Johan Inger, Medhi Walerski, Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Wayne McGregor, Alexander Ekman, to name a few. Iratxe’s flare for choreography started while dancing with Nacho Duato and the CND, winning prizes and mentions in choreographic competitions such as the International Solo Tanz Theater Festival, Certamen Coreografico de Madrid and was awarded for her artistic trajectory by the Association of Dance Professionals (Spain) in 2007. Since 2009 after leaving NDT she became a freelance artist. She has created and set original choreography on companies, such as Lyon Opera Ballet and as a freelance artist has choreographed, danced and given workshops in different projects and countries around the globe.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Iratxe Ansa and I come from Basque country San Sebastian, Spain. I left Basque country when I was 14, 15 to Stuttgart to join John Cranko Schule with a scholarship from my region. From there I worked in different types of companies in Basel Ballett in Switzerland, Gulbelkian in Lisbon, Portugal, The National Company in Spain with Nacho Duato, Opera de Lyon in France and my last company was Nederlands Dance Theater under the direction of Anders Hellstrom. After these 20 something years of working with these type of companies, which was amazing, I decided to stop in the companies specifically because I think I was tired and I needed to, not dramatic tired, but I need to know or to feel more that I wanted to continue and yeah, I was kind of tired. I needed a break. I never stopped , I was never injured, I never had a baby. So I needed a little bit of stop and slowly, slowly I started taking more projects and became a freelance artist. that now it’s true that I don’t stop now either… I have a lot of work so I kind of transitioned naturally.
Tell me about Metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis Summer Course Residency started 3 years ago as something completely spontaneous. I was going to give an intensive workshop at Balance Art Center, Beijing China and 10 dancers from 5 countries around the world that already worked with me in the past asked to join the course. I am used to working in many countries all around the world, I am invited to companies, schools, festivals…This time we were outside any strict institution, so I thought I had the opportunity to work with these people in freedom and do things my way. I have to say that we had so much fun, I brought the dancers with me to visit local companies, we made video and photo sessions, and made a creation we performed in a theatre. I wanted to share with the dancers the knowledge and the interesting contact I had in Beijing. I suddenly realised how much I enjoy working this way, and the full potential of mixing dancers and artists from different cultures.
The next year I thought I had to repeat the experience and decided to re-propose this format in Mexico City. Mexico City is an other place I go often to work and know many companies and artist. Our residence has been the National Center of the arts (CENARTS), an amazing place. 18 international dancers have come from 10 different countries all around the globe, and I selected other 13 Mexican dancers throughout an audition. When I first saw them all at once I realised that they were all there for me, so I felt such a big responsibility…honestly such a beautiful feeling. The residency took 3 full weeks, during this time we made a full evening performance, several photographical shootings and made some video works in collaborations with local visual artists, intervened museums, and made an improv sessions at the Spanish cultural center in Mexico city.
The overall process has been one of the most creative and exciting thing I have ever made in my entire career. The fact that the dancers travel so far, means that they really want to work, they already know me, they know how physical and intense I am at work…they come to give it all. In the studio the atmosphere is very creative ant the attitude is impecable, we make pure and honest work. It was indeed the very first time I had the feeling like having a company on my own.
This year (2016) we are going to Bring Metamorphosis to San Sebastian, Spain, my home town. We are going to collaborate with some of the most important cultural institution in the Basque country, such as Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Teatro Victoria Eugenia, Chillida Leku, Tabakalera, Museo San Telmo, and probably more to come. We had more than 90 people asking to participate. At the end we are going to work with 23 international dancers and 9 Spanish we selected via a national audition. We are not interested in having an open summer course, we like to select who we work with and create the strongest and best group as possible. So far we know we are going to collaborate with more than 8 visual artists, and most of them come from all over the world specifically to be part of it. The residency will start on the 4th of July and will finish on the 27th with the final performance in the Victoria Eugenia theatre. Honestly I can´t wait to start…and I know that the dancers feel the same too.
At this specific moment we are starting a side project called Metamorphosis Dance Collective. It is dedicated to produce and distribute performances that are a result of the choreographic creations from Metamorphosis Summer Course Residency. The choreographic result have been received so positively by both the spectators and the Mexican dance community that became necessary to take a step further and propose a new performance based on this result to the theatres network in Mexico City.
Metamorphosis Dance Collective this time is composed by 10 international dancers that took part of Metamorphosis of last year and collaborates with part of the cast of the CEPRODAC (Center of Contemporary Dance Production) co-producing the show: “The body’s trilogy”. “The body’s trilogy” is going to be premiered in Teatro de la Ciudad on the 16th of June 2016 in Mexico city. The next time we are going to perform with this project is going to be in Pompei, Italy on the 29th of July.
So tell me about your project? How did it begin?
I was giving one of my intense workshops in Beijing, China. Normally, the workshop is for Chinese dancers in or around the area of Beijing. Suddenly people outside of Beijing were asking if they could Join the workshop. I have worked in many places and I have people following the work I do. I even thought “ How are you gonna come to Beijing?” and to me it was like surprising that they were coming from Barcelona, San Francisco, New York, Sydney, New Zealand and that they wanted to come to Beijing. Of course, I was very happy and then I decide to accept them in the workshop. For me it was interesting to see the collaborations, the different types of thinking, the different types of moving, the different types of taking decisions and this is what it makes to me this project.
Can you explain the parts of your workshop? What makes it different or special?
I start by understanding what type of space I have. I have worked in many different places and I have different types of performance experience. I start with a strong barre, after we are going to a method of improvisation that I developed. Many people already learned this method and they are working on it and creating choreographic materials, so I give them tools to start creating. I give them space to create themselves because I want to know who they are and then I give them my repertoire. I mean if they give me two hours and with a specific group I give them probably a barre and then maybe repertoire. In the case like in Beijing , I do whatever I want because I have lots of time. We also usually having a showing of the material that we create. So there’s many phases.
What inspires you when you are looking for a material to choreograph or when you are looking for material for your workshops?
I am very physical. I love the movement. I think from the normal life I get inspired by a talk, I get inspired by the people I have in front of me. I love to work with people. I really realize that I like to work for me but I think I like to work more for them. I like to understand them from the other side. I also get inspired by …like country music – yes, ideas that I try to make physical. Physicalized ideas.
What’s your goal? What are your hopes for this project?
I’m very intuitive and passionate so I go for it in general. Collaborations with inspiring people is an obvious goal. I want people that inspired me and inspire themselves and that they really believe in what they do. So I think we need also different type of artists and it’s not …we need it’s that I want them. And also visual artists, cinema, video art, pictures. This year probably also we have musicians because we are gonna collaborate with the festival of Jazz of San Sebastian. So we are already doing that… and my goal it will be that we continue doing this because we believe in that, because we enjoy, because we learn in meeting different type of amazing artists. This is my goal more than become something else, that we really enjoy what we do.
Why do you think people come to your project?
They come because they know we are going to do quality work and we will enjoy it. They know I’m not kidding and they want to create. They want to be in my universe and I try to take all of them with me. These people do a lot to be part of this experience once a year. The answer is this – yeah, well… I think it’s me. They believe in me.
Main photo by David Flores Rubio (Mexico 2015)
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