Competition: Desperate to get back to theatre? Win a £50 ATG Voucher and take your pick of shows


Interview with dancer and choreographer Olga Pericet

Image © Olga Pericet via Facebook

The Spanish dancer Olga Pericet chats about her upcoming performance at the Flamenco Festival at Sadler's Wells.

Olga Pericet is an award-winning Spanish dancer and choreographer, known for her work on Spanish dance and flamenco. We chat about her current projects and dance as an art form ahead of her spring performance at Sadler’s Wells.

London Calling: You’re performing at the Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival this February, in two shows [Pisadas, a Woman’s End and Beginning, and Paso a Dos]. Could you explain a bit more about them, and how they differ in theme and style?

Olga Pericet: Pisadas, a Woman’s End and Beginning, and Paso a Dos are very different. Pisadas has a simple storyline, although conceptually it is open to interpretation by the audience. It is focused on female experiences - the restrictions placed on women, their destiniesand their choices in life. It traces the footprints a woman leaves in her lifetime, including ancestral and ethnic traditions, to create a feminine universe. It features a more open flamenco style, referencing tradition but also running away from it. It borrows from other traditions, such as Spanish folklore, and is enriched by guest artists and artistic collaborations.

Paso A Dos is an original concept from José Mª Velázquez that showcases years of collaborative artistic work between Marcos Flores and me. Paso A Dos is a dance dialogue, our own unique choreographic language, distinct from the traditional ‘pas à deux’ in Flamenco.Drawing on our own needs and ways of working over fifteen years, we have unconsciously created a new direction for Spanish Flamenco dance. Seeing more young people following these steps makes me very happy.


LC: How would you describe a typical day of rehearsal?

OP: Normally I take two hours to myself to warm up and focus, training my mind and body, before rehearsing with the musicians and rest of the company for roughly three hours. After that, I take time to stretch and think quietly. Other days I don’t train at all and try not to think about dance. Those days often become the most interesting, when suddenly many ideas arise in my mind, particularly in the shower!


LC: You’ve had a close partnership with Marco Flores, whom you perform with in Paso a Dos, for fifteen years. He describes himself in interviews as mostly self-taught, with some intensive courses, whereas you’ve had a rigorous dance training at the Conservatory of Córdoba. How does the partnership between you work?

OP: Haha… I love it! It’s that saying, ‘opposite attract’. It turns out that Marcos is much more rigorous when creating, and I am more chaotic - don´t ask me why! It is funny to think that we can fight a lot during rehearsals, but the final result on stage is 100% mutual understanding. What I feel dancing with Marcos, I have never felt it with anyone else, it is something very, very special.


LC: You previously performed at Sadler’s Wells in your show Rosa, Metal y Ceniza, which was an intense ninety-minute performance. How does it feel to return to one of the world’s leading dance venues?

OP: I feel very lucky! I have a lot of respect for British audiences. Moreover, I admire Sadler’s Wells because of the innovative dance creations presented at the venue. It means a lot to me that my work is programmed here.


LC: The UK show will be almost straight after your residency in Albuquerque, at the Dance Programme of the University of New Mexico. What was that like? Do you think that a British audience appreciates the art form of flamenco as much – is it universal, transcending cultural barriers, or do you need a background in flamenco to really identify with it?


OP: British audiences are accustomed to attending the theatre; they are culturally adventurous. As with any other performance, I experience feedback in terms of action and reaction. It depends on the, person, his or her blood, emotion, culture, sensibility etc…I find it very interesting that British audience love Flamenco dance. Flamenco enraptures so many different people - it is a living art form, a great one, it is alive!


LC: How did it feel to form your own company and exercise creative freedom over your work? Has it changed how you approach your projects?

OP: I can’t say that I have complete creative freedom, since I don’t have the facilities, or even economic resources that I’d like to fully realise my vision. In Spain there is still a lack of understanding regarding cultural issues, we can’t count on the relevant support that most artists enjoy in other places.

I must say, the freedom I enjoy in my shows also means that I face certain risks every time I present a new production, not only in financial terms (since I self-produce every new creation), but also at an artistic level because we are talking about flamenco, and in this context certain kinds of new directions are not always welcomed.However, I feel I was born to be free, it is the best sensation I know, and I’m always searching for it.


LC: Over the years you’ve worked with some incredible dancers [including Ana Laguna, Enrique Morente and Carmen Cortes]. Who have you most enjoyed working with, and what have you learned from them?

OP: I have learned something from every one of them.With the artists you mentioned, I mainly learned by watching them on stage, rehearsing with them, witnessing their courage and the attention they bring to technical issues, plus my experiences with them backstage. I would really like to have many long conversations and collaborate on different projects with these artists.

I pay a lot of attention to little details - a gesture, an expression - there are some things that hypnotise me. I can´t express in detail what I have learned from these artists, it is the accumulation of many little things that complete a unified picture.


LC: What are your plans for the rest of 2016 following the Flamenco Festival?

OP: I will present Mosaico in New York shortly - it’s an extract from another of my creations, De una Pieza. In May I will tour the UK with Flamenco Untitled, making a stop at the International Dance Festival in Birmingham. In June I begin a beautiful project based on the life of Santa Teresa de Jesús, where I will be sharing the stage with dance and theatre makers from Spain. Later on, I will present this show, Pisadas at Sevilla Bienal, and I have some other longer-terms projects that I can’t reveal!


Olga will be performing in Paso a Dos at Sadler’s Wells this February. For more information and tickets, please visit their website. To enter our competition to win free tickets to the show, please go here.