Interview with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Director, Alexandra Damiani

New York’s Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was founded in 2003 and since its beginnings has forged a strong reputation over the past decade for the exceptional calibre of its dancers and for commissioning new work from the world’s most sought after choreographers. Following its critically acclaimed UK debut at Sadler’s Wells in 2012, the company is returning to the UK for its first national British tour, which will visit five venues across the country from 27 September until 19 October. Aesthetica speaks to the company’s director Alexandra Damiani about their touring piece Triple Bill.

A: How would you describe Cedar Lake’s approach to dance to someone who hasn’t seen you perform?
AD: A large part of the excitement of our company is our diversity. Diversity in dancers, the diverse styles of movement we acquire as we work with different choreographers, and the commitment we have to allowing the individual personality of the dancer shine through no matter what the dance. Cedar Lake is very much a chameleon-like company. All of our dancers have very strong classical training, skill and technique, but it is the use of the dancers’ individual personalities into each creation that creates our distinctive style.

A: You are about to perform your Triple Bill at Sadler’s Wells, are the three works interlinked or completely separate?
AD: In every Cedar Lake performance we strive to showcase the diversity of our company at its very best. These three dancesd o just that, they are each by choreographers with very distinctive styles. From the joyous dance for dance sake exuberance of Indigo Rose to the very tender and human narrative of Ten Duets On A Theme Of Rescue and finally with the quirky comedy and whimsical gaiety of Necessity, Again audiences hopefully travel on a hearty and fulfilling journey with our dancers.

A: What would you identify as the highlights of the performance?
AD: All three pieces have their own highlights. However, I would say that Indigo Rose by Jiri Kylian is very demanding for the dancers. Its musicality and the sheer technical display keep them on their toes all the time and this makes for a very exciting dance to watch. Personally, there has not been a time when I’ve not been moved by the emotion of Ten Duets.

A: You work with choreographers from all over the world, is there anyone you’d love to work with that you haven’t yet?
AD: I would very much like to work with Sasha Waltz and James Thiérrée.

A: What drew you to want to work with, Jiří Kylián, Crystal Pite and Jo Strømgren?
AD: Each is a singular artist and each of them posses unique qualities I admire. Their work excites and moves me in different ways, and that is what makes Cedar Lake so interesting. Again it is the diversity of styles, yet all linked by pure artistry and quality.

A: In your opinion, what makes a good dancer?
AD: Strong technique and a solid foundation of training and skill. Self-discipline and a very strong work ethic combined with a captivating individual personality that can come forth in their dancing, qualities that make their performance unique to them.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are on tour across the UK until 19 October. Triple Bill runs at Sadler’s Wells 27 September- 19 October.

1. Copy of Jane Hobson, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Necessity Again.
2. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Baden Baden.
3. Courtesy of Cedar Lake, Baden Baden.