Interview with our Choreographer – Gustavo Zajac

We’ve been promising a CARMEN like none you’ve ever seen before.

Well, we’re just back from the rehearsal rooms and it’s clear –  you really don’t want to miss this one.  With nearly 200 performers on stage, including a full orchestra and three spectacular flamenco dancers, it’s going to be a truly breathtaking production.

We talked to the man in charge of the movement – choreographer Gustavo Zajac – to see what he’s got in store for us!

MV: Thanks for taking a minute to meet in between chorus and dance rehearsals. You must be working around the clock!

GZ: We are! And we are all giving 1000%. We’ve only just begun rehearsing live but I’ve been holding the concepts and choreography in my head for nearly three years. At first, the COVID postponement was heartbreaking, but it opened up a whole new way of preparation – Sammi [Cannold, the Director] and I were able to deepen and flesh out the vision over time, and I began developing ideas with the dancers before we even stepped into the studio. That never happens! It’s allowed for a more complex layering and integration of all the elements.

Sammi explained about using the tiered layout of Rose Hall to stage the piece as if it’s set in a traditional Spanish bull ring. And… a female dancer who will embody an incarnation of Carmen?

GZ: Yes! Her idea about the bull was so brilliant, and it’s been thrilling to bring it to life through the choreography. The medium of dance allows for both metaphor and allegory – we’re telling the story of Carmen with an entirely different language that still supports the music, the singing, and the dialogue. We have an astonishing pair of flamenco dancers (yes, there will be stomping!), and the choreography of the bull is a fusion of flamenco and modern dance that allows us to see Carmen’s passion, her rage, the violence, her need for love. I also love Sammi’s immersive approach – my roots are in Jewish and Argentinian folk dance, so expect a lively and rousing taverna scene at the start of Act II! Dance will also introduce each act, as a way of foretelling the themes.

Anything else we should know?

It’s going to be such a sophisticated and layered production. There is nothing to compare it to, so much of what we’re doing has never been done!  No one but Ted [Sperling, MV Artistic Director] could have brought together this caliber of talent – he has impecible taste. And he’s given us free rein to use our imaginations and take risks. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance so no one is holding back, even though it’s just one night!