Alexander Ekman, from Cacti to the Cow

Next Friday, 26 February, Alexander Ekman’s box office hit, Cacti, is opening in both Wellington and Sydney, with a premiere season at the Royal New Zealand Ballet and a revival by the Sydney Dance Company.

The 2010 work, first performed in The Hague and created for Nederlands Dans Theater 2 by the Swedish choreographer, will have its Canadian premiere next month in Toronto, danced by the National Ballet of Canada, and NDT 2 will bring Cacti back to the UK in an April/May tour.

After the UK website recently published my interview with Ekman, the Tulsa Ballet contacted me to tell me they, too, were bringing it into their repertoire.

What’s happening with Cacti? By my count, it is now in the rep of at least 15 companies worldwide and I think Ekman may be getting just a little big weary of explaining to journalists why it is such a success.

For me, it’s all about the timing, the precision, the recorded text that ridicules art criticism that is convoluted and smug and the perfect connection of the choreography with the music by Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven and Mahler.

I interviewed Ekman in Sydney last month before he travelled to Wellington and then back to Europe to prepare for the world premiere of his work, Cow, for the Semperopera in Dresden.

His travelling days may be coming to an end as Ekman plans to start his own dance company in Sweden. “I’m about to go into a whole new way of creating”, he said, “because I’ve been doing this thing of jumping between existing companies. It’s been my way of working until now. I’ve learned a lot through that, seeing different groups and different directors and different ways of creating so now I’m super-excited and eager to create. It’s time.

“I will spend a lot of time on how we create together. I have to deal with maybe 50 other people to reach my vision. I’m extremely jealous of writers and composers. They can just work alone. It’s a pain in the ass sometimes to work with 50 people who all have their own shit”. But that, he said, is the job, “to see the group every day and then to create in the moment, coming into the studio, trying your ideas on other people and if they don’t work everyone feels that and you still have to keep it up and keep going”.

For my dancetabs interview click below.

Alexander Ekman

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Alexander Ekman with the Sydney Dance Company dancers in Cacti, photo © Peter Greig

Alexander Ekman, photo © Peter Greig

Cacti, Sydney Dance Company, photo© Peter Greig

Message from the Cow

A backstage prop for Ekman’s Cow