Yukichi Hattori has been helping to build Alberta Ballet a legacy with its commercially successful shows as a dancer and choreographer. Since 2004, he’s been presenting audiences in Germany, Japan, and Canada, with a new perspective on how ballet is still relevant to our times. Now, with his choreography of Temple (one of three ballets which make up the show Up Close) showing in Edmonton the weekend of January 17th and 18that the University of Alberta’s Timms Centre, he takes this one step further by helping audiences to see what lessons the ballet discipline can offer to our own lives.
What inspired the creation of Up Close?
In the beginning [Up Close] was meant to all be done by company dancers; it was an opportunity to let the dancers be creative.
What is it about the men of Alberta Ballet that brings this performance of The Temple to life?
The females are always busy. Like two years ago they had Swan Lake, and this year they have Giselle. So because of that they’re not involved, but it’s not because I’m trying to be exclusive per say [laughs].
With both the audience and the dancers in such a close space – you can feel the breath and things like that, which makes it so much more intense. In a bigger stage of course there are things we can do that are different and that touches people in other ways, but in an intimate setting like this, you really feel that you’re having a conversation throughout the performance. With Up Close, I really feel that [the dancers and the audience] have a nice conversation with each other.
What are you hoping that audiences will take away from this performance of The Temple in addition to having a conversation with the dancers?
This piece I’ve made is based on our ballet dancers’ daily training. Unfortunately, in North America there are a lot of people who still think that being a ballet dancer isn’t a real job. Sometimes I still get lots of questions like, “So what do you do during the day?” [Laughs] Yeah, so I [get frustrated] when people say that I should get a Master’s degree in Dance or Art and things like that, and just because we didn’t go to a school that is recognized we get labelled from people who don’t understand what we do. So Temple is to show how much concentration and how much discipline goes into ballet. I’m making a piece around that and I’ve combined it with Gregorian chants —which is the oldest style of European music sung by men [a long time ago], and these days there are females involved as well. The show is almost a religious environment; we show audiences our bodies are temples and that we have to build it each and every day through discipline and repetition.
Interview by: Becky Hagan-Egyir
Photo credit: Paul McGrath