Instituto Coreográfico 2014: 10 Minutes with Miguel Mancillas

For the latest installment of Instituto Coreográfico, Ballet Hispanico’s choreography lab for Latino artists, we welcome Mexico-based choreographer Miguel Mancillas to our studios to work with our dancers. We caught up with him recently for a quick chat on the experience, which will culminate tonight in a public showing. Here’s what he had to say on this collaborative process:

IMG_0761How have you approached working with the Ballet Hispanico dancers?
I find it really interesting the way dancers believe in their skills and training and what they know or understand about their own body. For me it’s really, really important to build communication with dancers so we can go farther together. It’s hard to build on their movement or ask for their own movement without them having trust in you. I love to respect that because I believe that they are all artists, not just people who can move.

Is it a challenge that you’re only spending 2 weeks with the dancers?
Not really, for me it’s more like a laboratory work process and at the same time I’m just trying to know them as much as possible, and also to see what they think about my ideas. For example, what is an animalistic thing or an instinct? What does it mean to own your body, if you really think that you make decisions for your body, or is it your mind, or is it society? We were working in different approaches to that.

For them, it has been a real challenge in that way, but at the same time they know how to do a lot of things—they are really good dancers. Some of them enjoy much more to challenge themselves. But I think it’s little things that I can say to them, like to be sure that they are are not lying to themselves, but not for me. To me, I would never know, but for them, they would know.IMG_0877

As a choreographer, what do you gain from a program like Instituto Coreográfico?
For me, I’m making them do things that I already do with my dancers, but I like to see where they feel more challenged and where they feel more fine, so they can take that movement and use it as their own. I make a lot of images in my mind and I work with that, but I also don’t just like to have them try to do something that is already in mind, something that I’ve predicted–it’s better to search together.

“I believe that they are all artists, not just people who can move.”

How would you describe your style of your choreography?
It’s really hard–I always say that each piece makes me be different. Sometimes I go really abstract, sometimes I go with storytelling. But, I have the same obsession: what makes us move? Sexuality, fears of being alone, and the vulnerabilities we have as a species. We are the weakest. We have a great brain but our body is really weak. And so, I feel like we build a lot of masks around that, and that is in all of my pieces.

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Gracias, Miguel! We look forward to seeing your work!

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