Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s first production of the 2022-2023 season is Storytelling in Motion, a mixed repertoire showcase of contemporary ballet. Storytelling in Motion features Nacho Duato’s piece Duende, which, like many of Duato’s pieces, was inspired by his relationship with the music (in this case, Claude Debussy’s ethereal score). The music determined and molded Duato’s approach to the choreography.
The result is a transcendental and sculptural performance as movement and sound become one in Duende.
Former Artistic Director Susan Jaffe explained her relationship with Duende’s creator and why she chose to include his work when she was planning the 22-23 season: “Nacho Duato is one of the foremost choreographers in the world. Duende was actually supposed to be performed by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2020, and then the week before the performance, the pandemic hit. The company was fully rehearsed and ready to go, but they never got to perform it. So I said, “My goodness, we have to do Duende for Storytelling in Motion!”
Jaffe described the piece as “gorgeous, sculptural and whimsical,” a sentiment echoed by Nacho Duato himself.
“In a playful way, the ballet also investigates the means of expression of the different meanings of the word that gives it its name: having duende could be taken to mean having personal charm or magic in flamenco art; and duendes, depending on whether they were found in children’s stories or in the imagination of superstitious people, would have quite a different character,” Duato explained.
In terms of audience experience, Duato calls for viewers to “surrender themselves to the fantasy world and be transported to a dimension where the ordinary laws of human life lose their power and significance.”
Make sure to see Duende, along with two other innovative contemporary pieces — Helen Pickett’s The Exiled and a new world premiere choreographed by PBT’s own principal dancer Yoshiaki Nakano — at Storytelling in Motion – running Oct. 7-9 at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center!