You choreograph to contemporary music. Which composers inspire you, and spark your creativity? What is it about their music that makes it fit for, and fit with, your stage works?

 I've been working with composer Owen Belton for over twenty years. I am so fortunate to have connected with him early in my career and to have built so much understanding and trust. He is truly one of my most essential creative influences. A shortlist of other composers whose music I have loved choreographing to: Brahms, Bernard Herrmann, Cliff Martinez, Beethoven, and now of course, Thomas Ades.

 

You are bringing 64 dancers together on Sadlers Wells’ stage in a new world première for ‘Thomas Adès : See the Music, Hear the  Dance’ . Can you tell us a little about it? What makes Adès’ Polaris special, and how does the music and the dance come together in this work?

Crystal Pite, and dancers, in rehearsals for <i>Polaris</i> © Chris Randle
Crystal Pite, and dancers, in rehearsals for Polaris
© Chris Randle
I only needed to listen to Polaris once to make the decision. I was really excited by the challenge of meeting this stunning music with choreography. It's huge, earth-shattering stuff but also contains a human element. It contains the same contrasts and tensions that I'm always striving for in my work. Great rolling thunderous passages that pop you out into silences taut with tension. This is the dynamic I hope to manifest in a single dancer, but also in a single entity made of sixty-four dancers.

 

Has your choreographic process evolved much over time? Is ‘structured improvisation’ still a driving force? Does it, or other elements of your works have a conversation with other mediums, be it set steps, the music, the space… How ‘free’ should live performance be?

 I almost always leave something undone in a creation. Some space for the unknown. I try to be very specific about our improvisation ideals, but the risk of mediocrity is right there beside the possibility of magic. It keeps us awake.