Bringing Carmen to Life Through Dance

Rehearsals for our 17/18 season opening production of Carmen are in full swing.

Dancers rehearsing for the upcoming production of Carmen (2017)

Dancers rehearsing for the upcoming production of Carmen (2017)

In addition to hearing wonderful singers perform the opera’s many hits like “Habanera,” we get to watch talented dancers tell Carmen’s story through flamenco.

These dancers are led by Spanish choreographer Nuria Castejón, whose career as a dancer (working for acclaimed Ballet Nacional de España and Compania Antonio Gades) evolved into a long-standing career as an opera, theater, and film choreographer. While Castejón has worked on many plays and as Penelope Cruz’s dance advisor on the Pedro Almodóvar film Volver, opera holds a special place in her heart.

“I adore opera,” says Castejón. “My parents were actors and lyric singers. They did a lot of operetta and zarzuela – sometimes even working with Plácido Domingo’s mother.”

Castejón brings this love of opera to every production she choreographs.

This includes classics like The Barber of Seville, Luisa Fernanda (with which she made her LA Opera debut in 2007) and now to Carmen.

When asked about her choreographing process, Castejón says, “It all starts with the director.” She continues, “Sometimes the director wants a dance to tell the whole history of the opera through movement. Other times, I’ve created a dance where one dancer represents Carmen’s journey.”

For our production of Carmen, Castejón is choreographing multiple flamenco numbers that represent the desire of director Ron Daniels to bring Seville to life on stage.

The dance at the beginning of Act II is a perfect example of this vision.

In the scene, Carmen and her friends – Frasquita and Mercédès – are at an inn on the outskirts of town. It’s a lively moment of singing and dancing that showcases who these free-spirted characters are. For this moment, Castejón choreographed a bulería, a very wild, and fast flamenco rhythm in 12 beats. The flamenco – a dance born and perfected in Spain – roots audiences in the world of the opera. The 12-beat bulería showcases Carmen’s power, intensity, and most of all, how she and her friends feel comfortable being themselves in this moment in the opera.

The flamenco numbers in Carmen are all powerful and wild like the dance at the beginning of Act II. They showcase how much freedom Carmen has and desires over the other characters in the opera. (She is the ultimate free-spirt, after all.) Of this, Castejón says, “As human beings, we are attracted to that freedom; it’s emotional.”

Through her choreography, Castejón hopes to bring that emotional experience to audiences watching Carmen.

To purchase tickets to Carmen and see Nuria Castejón’s choreography, click here.

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4 Responses to Bringing Carmen to Life Through Dance

  1. judi jordan says:

    Super Excited to see and hear the fabulous Ana Maria Martinez sing and dance!

    This is her 3rd Carmen and as she said in our interview “Every one is different …it all depends on the director!”

    As a Latina born in Puerto Rico and raised in NY by Cuban and Puerto Rican parents, Ana Maria has a very fresh and personal ‘take’ on Carmen and her “personal code of honor ” this is the thinking woman’s version of Bizet’s fireball.
    I am so jazzed to see her performance opening on Saturday!! She goes back a long way with Maestro Domingos Operalia — she won the competition years ago and it launched her career. And such a warm and intellegent artist is she!

    My interview with Ana Maria will post in Latino Leaders later but l will post a preview link to a short insight with this Modern Diva after the opening!
    Viva Carmen! Y Viva Ana Maria Martinez!

  2. I want to attend Disabled 80 yr old, ex-flamenco dancer. I want to come and bring my son (age 50) who has never come. Please send me the prices and dates and times of performances. Thank U very much. Nina Diamante 310 275-6106 home, cell 213 500-5778.

  3. Ida Lanza says:

    The dance at the beginning of Act IV is spectacular. The use of the fans is just breath-taking. The entire opera is magnificent, but I would see it again just the dancers. Viva Carmen!

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