Black Cold Burns

Black Cold Burnschoreography Stijn Celis
music Bob Dylan
lighting Arnaud Viala
costumes Marion Schmid
création June 2012

This piece by Celis was inspired by the images brought to mind by Bob Dylan's album, "Time Out of Mind".

"With this work, I want to portray a particular community of people, always on the move. The dancers are like rock-stars, constantly trying out new things and equally always on the go. Bob Dylan is a giant, a shambolic poet. His scorn, anger and aggression are tremendous."
Stijn Celis


Interview with Stijn Celis a few days before the new Ballet Junior de Genève programme, MIX5, which was shown from 6th – 10th June 2012.

- Why have you chosen Bob Dylan for this work?

I needed to have a fixed narrative thread on which I could then adapt my own ideas. For me Bob Dylan is an artist, someone who has had a very unique career. He's the person I really wanted to think about.

- How did you set about creating the work?

There was lots of exchange of ideas with the dancers. I let them make suggestions, we worked with improvisations, instructions, tasks I gave them. A basis then emerged which was sufficiently workable to begin to flesh out. It was like a number of spare parts which came together in this space. An association / (collaboration) with and between these people.

- You work with the most prestigious international dance companies. Did you set about this piece in a different way given the young age of the dancers at Ballet Junior de Genève?

I always adapt my method of working according to the particular group of people I have in front of me. There always has to be an artistic requirement, a choreographic expertise that I want to achieve. Working with younger dancers offers so many possibilities. They are like blank sheets of paper which is not always the case when one works with a company that has an established repertoire.

- What are you looking for when you choose a particular dancer for a work?

First of all you have to watch the dancer closely. I quickly try to establish what particular qualities I want to see in the work, like a sort of organisation of the process. The creativity of the dancers was important with this piece for the Ballet Junior. I was interested in seeing how I could encourage their creativity and how I could push the dancers to develop their connection with the subject. I chose dancers who had the potential to create the moves as well as execute them.

- The dancers in the first year at Ballet Junior are currently working on performance skills. Who has impressed you most with their performance?

I haven't singled out one individual, but I'm always impressed by, and full of admiration for those who have unusual career paths – people for whom dance plays a key role in their existence, when all their physical strength and spirit is dedicated to their art. There has to be a real need to dance. Meetings and priorities allow for this to happen.

- What kind of a dancer were you?

As a dancer I was a performer rather than a creator of dance. Pina Bausch was a great inspiration to me as was Martha Graham whom I met in Florence. Then as a choreographer I felt the need to find my own way and I was enormously inspired by those around me. There has been a break with classical dance, lots of experimenting back and forth to see where I stand between my classical training and my desire to be more contemporary. I'm also interested in dance in Belgium. If asked what really inspires me, I would say that every form of artistic expression is important, but so are philosophy, politics and social ritual. They all contribute to the forward movement of contemporary dance. In my view this development is absolutely vital as a way of influencing our narrative.

- What are your upcoming projects?

Mozart's Mass in C minor for the Royal Swedish Ballet, a work for Dancenorth, an Australian company and "Romeo and Juliet" for the Semperoper in Dresden

- What advice would you give to a young dancer?

I don't like to give advice because there is such a mixture of things to include, but if I had to say one thing it would be to have self-respect while at the same time being curious and brave.

Interview de Stijn Celis par Patrice Delay, le 23 mai 2012