Hubert Essakow – Choreographer and curator of the 1898 Contemporary Dance Festival

Hubert Essakow.<br />© Hubert Essakow. (Click image for larger version)

Hubert Essakow.
© Hubert Essakow. (Click image for larger version)

Print Room logoThe 1898: Contemporary Dance Festival takes place at the Print Room between 23 & 28 February 2015. Festival details and booking

www.hubertessakow.com
www.the-print-room.org
 

5 Questions for Hubert Essakow on the 1898 Contemporary Dance Festival and more…

Hubert Essakow made some special nights of dance at West London’s tiny Print Room. Now they’ve moved to the Coronet in Notting Hill and Essakow is curating a mini-festival of dance to celebrate – time for a word…

Congrats on the mini-festival – How did you choose your fellow choreographers and what do they bring to the night?

There are 3 choreographers other than myself – Kirill Burlov, Tamarin Stott and Mbulelo Ndabeni.

Kirill and Mbulelo are ex-colleagues of mine from Rambert Dance Company who also know Anda Winters the artistic Director of The Print Room. Even though we share a similar background, we are very different characters and have very different styles.

Tamarin is from English National Ballet and dancing in her own work, so that will be a different style. Oh, actually all the choreographers except me are performing in their own work so I guess they will bring a lot of themselves to their pieces.
 

The 4 choreographers involved in 1898 - Hubert Essakow, Kirill Burlov, Tamarin Stott and Mbulelo Ndabeni.<br />© Print Room. (Click image for larger version)

The 4 choreographers involved in 1898 – Hubert Essakow, Kirill Burlov, Tamarin Stott and Mbulelo Ndabeni.
© Print Room. (Click image for larger version)

Nice idea of theming it around when the Coronet was built – 1898. How are you all responding to the brief?

I think we are all responding slightly differently, I hope, because we as individuals are all quite different. That’s what we would like to see and are hoping for. Truth be told, I haven’t seen much of the other pieces yet!

I think mine might be the most traditional as I’m using music from the period and I really wanted to work with these Debussy songs I found. I am also involving a mature artist by the name of Naomi Sorkin, who was a very last-minute addition, but I had to have her as she embodies this wonderful period I’m exploring ie the world of Sarah Bernhardt and the Belle Epoque, who performed at the theatre. And I love working with mature performers; they bring such gravitas to the work, but also a different quality to that of a younger performer.
 

How do you create your pieces – do you go into the studio with a firm idea of the movement you want? Or does it all just happen on the spot?

With this piece I’ve really started with the music and the theme of the period. I really find it crucial to work with music as the starting point the more I create; it really guides me and I find it satisfying. And I have wonderful dancers that are able to create beautiful movement. So I try to allow them freedom and then mould, but we have had very little time, so I have to work quickly and then we don’t have exploratory time and I sometimes create little phrases, but often they come up with better material. I’m learning to be freer in the studio, and trust, but it’s actually quite difficult.
 

Hubert Essakow working in the studio.<br />© Hubert Essakow. (Click image for larger version)

Hubert Essakow working in the studio.
© Hubert Essakow. (Click image for larger version)

What other things are you involved in and what’s coming up? We hear tell of something big in Europe…

Yes, I have a commission in Germany with Ballet Am Rhein in Dusseldorf in 2016, my first commission with a proper big ballet company, who are thrilling and have a wonderful director, Martin Schläpfer.

Lynn Seymour saw my last show (Ignis) and put me in touch with Martin as she thought we would artistically connect and we have. She has been a wonderful generous helper, advisor and quite simply an inspiration.

I also have the third part of my trilogy of pieces based on the Elements at the Print Room next year, so it’s going to be a busy year
 

Sonya Cullingford and Simone Muller Lotz in Essakow's <I>Flow</I> - the first part of the Elements trilogy at the Print Room.<br />© Hugo Glendinning. (Click image for larger version)

Sonya Cullingford and Simone Muller Lotz in Essakow’s Flow – the first part of the Elements trilogy at the Print Room.
© Hugo Glendinning. (Click image for larger version)

What is your greatest dance wish?

I just want to keep making work and quite honestly do that full time. I do other jobs to keep me alive, but my wish is to make a living from being a choreographer. It’s when I feel truly alive.

I just hope opportunities keep coming up, and that I can persevere and keep going. Sometimes there seems like there’s not enough opportunities or funding for everyone, so I hope there is more of that, but I have been very lucky.

I also wish that I can continue to be brave and honest with my work and not conform to what’s fashionable or trendy.
 

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