El Ballet de Barcelona debuta al Festival Castell de Peralada amb Perspectives, un espectacle de nova creació basat en la figura del seu director artístic, Chase Johnsey, un artista que ha trencat motlles en el món de la dansa clàssica en revolucionar les estrictes normes de gènere inherents des de sempre en aquesta disciplina artística. Una veu en off i uns elements senzills sobre una llarga passarel·la serveixen com a pretext per conèixer què significa aquest Llac dels cignes. De la mà de Chase Johnsey coneixerem alguns dels estereotips que sovint els ballarins, així com la resta dels humans, es veuen obligats a no qüestionar per continuar encaixant dins les idees preconcebudes de la nostra societat. Amb aquest espectacle, la companyia catalana ens convida a emprendre un viatge cap a un món de lluita, de somni i de transformació a partir de la figura icònica del cigne i la música de Txaikovski.
Perspectives is a individual take on gender created by American dancer Chase Johnsey, co-founder of the dance troupe Ballet de Barcelona. The piece, that demands the 36-year-old be on stage for the entire 55 minutes, is a homage to an extraordinary other in his life: his mom.
“As I don’t associate with a gender necessarily,” says Johnsey, “I didn’t feel comfortable repesenting other gender perspectives. I thought, instead of just tackling gender itself and sexuality, if someone could see me from the perspective of someone’s son… And my mother is the reason why I’m brave enough to be who I am.” The process of revisiting his own childhood for Perspectives was sometimes uncomfortable but also cathartic, says Johnsey, its autobiographical revelations marked by the intensity of a singular mother-son relationship.
Born in Florida, Johnsey was a champion in American clog dancing as a child. It was only when taking a ballet class for the first time as a teenager that, surrounded by women, he “felt beautiful – artistically speaking”. Physically, however, Johnsey struggled to find success given the ultra-rigid conventions of classical dance: short and slim, there was no way he would be cast in the buff male roles that appear on the classical stage. Nevertheless, Johnsey flourished in a 14-year career at Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and subsequently won the 2017 "Best Male Dancer" at the UK National Dance Awards. In 2018, he joined English National Ballet under the direction of Tamara Rojo, pioneering in dancing prominent female roles. He founded Ballet de Barcelona in 2019.
While Perspectives sways to that uncomfortable archetype that holds supportive women to be ‘strong’ and therefore ‘best’, Johnsey’s “bold, if imperfect” mother makes a pleasant anomaly. One muses the motivations of this formidable woman, who dangled her five-year-old son over a swimming pool and announced ‘swim or die!’, thus generating the resilience, claims Johnsey, that enabled him to pursue his career against the odds.
“I’m really not that different from so many people living their own truth,” he says, “every one of the other dancers has struggled to be accepted for reasons that they could not change.” Yet his mother seems rather unique: “She never wanted me to be like everyone else. At times I sort-of blamed her for my being like this. But she was the mother that I needed.”