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Interview: Theatre Life with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

The very talented and incredibly busy choreographer on Dona Peron and more.

Interview: Theatre Life with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Today's subject Annabelle Lopez Ochoa has one of the most prolific careers in the world of dance. Starting tomorrow evening, November 30th, you can see her work Doña Perón at the Kennedy Center as performed by Ballet Hispánico. The performance runs through December 3rd.

Annabelle is one of the busiest choreographers working in her field.

In 2006, she imagines a dance for the celebrated Dutch fashion designer Viktor & Rolf's project at the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Between 2005 and 2015, as a member of the Dance-Theatre collective "Fantasten" she successfully created physical theater plays, which have been performed in numerous theaters and festivals throughout the Netherlands.

In 2016, the Jacob's Pillow Summer School invited Lopez Ochoa to join the faculty as a guest contemporary choreographer, and classical choreographer in 2018.

In 2019, Annabelle was appointed as the director of the Contemporary Classical Summer program of the School at Jacob's Pillow. A position she will hold for 3 years.

Annabelle has worked with some of the top dance companies in the world including Alvin Ailey, Kansas City Ballet, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Dutch National Ballet, and of course Ballet Hispánico. That is only a very small sampling of the dance companies graced by Ms. Ochoa.

She has created 8 narrative ballets to date. They are Botero (2021- Ballet Metropolitano de Medellin, Colombia), Frida (2020 - Dutch National Ballet), The Little Prince (2019 - BalletX), Vendetta, a mafia story (2018 - Les Grands Ballets Canadiens), Red Riding Hood (2017- Ballet Black), Broken Wings (2016 - English National Ballet), Dangerous Liaisons (2016 - Grand Rapids Ballet), and A Streetcar Named Desire (2012 - Scottish Ballet).

Grab yourself some tickets to Doña Perón at Kennedy Center as presented by Ballet Hispánico and choreographed by one of the busiest and most talented choreographers in the world Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. She is an artist truly living her theatre life to the fullest.

At what age did you get interested in dance?

I was sent to ballet at the age of eight because I was a tomboy and my mother thought I'd become more elegant from learning ballet. At the age of 11, I discovered choreography and wished secretly I could do this every day for the rest of my life, not knowing at the time that it was an actual profession.

What was the first professional dance piece you saw as a child?

I believe I saw the National Ballet of Tokyo in a work by Maurice Béjart at the age of 12. I was mesmerized.

Where did you receive your dance training?

I trained at the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp in Belgium.

Is this your first time choreographing for Ballet Hispánico ?

I have collaborated seven times with Ballet Hispánico since 2010.

Interview: Theatre Life with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Ballet Hispánico's production of Doña Perón.
Photo by Paula Lobo.

Can you please tell us a little something about Doña Perón ?

Doña Perón is a portrait in 10 scenes that enlightens us about Eva Duarte Perón's motivations in her short-lived life.

There are 4 recurrent themes in the ballet:

- Her poor origins that she tries to hide with the hope to be accepted by the high class, which they never did.

- Meeting the love of her life, Juan Perón

- Her love and devotion for the well-being of the poor and underprivileged, which was reciprocated by them. They literally and figuratively put her on a pedestal.

- The cancer that gnawed her and ended her life prematurely.

Interview: Theatre Life with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Ballet Hispánico's production of Doña Perón.
Photo by Paula Lobo.

Where did the idea for the piece come from?

Eduardo Vilaro [Ballet Hispánico's Artistic Director & CEO] asked me to think about a full-length narrative about Eva Peron back in 2014.

You've choreographed all over the world. What are some of the differences (if any) in working with dancers in another country over American dancers?

Cultures are different but the essence of a dancer is pretty much the same everywhere. Dancers work hard to become good at their craft. When they are young, they care a lot about the virtuosic and athletic aspect of dance. When dancers mature they become more interested in portraying characters and exploring what it means to be human and how to convey this to an audience.

As a choreographer I enjoy working with both young and older artists, but of course if you have a dancer who can combine both the top-notch dancing and catch the essence of a character, it is a true blessing.

As 2023 approaches, what does the New Year hold in store for you work wise?

I am looking forward to creating four new narratives ballets in 2023:

Coco Chanel for the Hong Kong Ballet, BOTERO for Alberta Ballet in Canada, Delmira for Houston Ballet, and, Callas, La Divina for el Municipal de Santiago de Chile.

Special thanks to Kennedy Center's Senior Press Represenitive Brittany Laeger for her assistance in corrdinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.



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