Raúl Reinoso: From Rock to Jazz

Raúl Reinoso: From Rock to Jazz
Fecha de publicación: 
31 January 2024
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Raúl Reinoso, first dancer and choreographer of the Acosta Danza company, has been one of the protagonists of a true stage event in Great Britain. He was one of the three creators last year of the big show Black Sabbath. The Ballet, a tribute from Birmingham Royal Ballet to the legendary rock group Black Sabbath.

He is now in Havana, enrolled in a project that links the National Ballet of Cuba with the country's jazz movement. On January 28, at the closing gala of the 2024 Jazz Plaza International Festival, the company directed by Viengsay Valdés will premiere the piece Apparatus, which Reinoso created from a score by pianist Roberto Fonseca.

Just before a rehearsal at the group's headquarters, he talks to CubaSí:

—You are putting on a show at the Jazz Plaza… what does jazz mean to you?

—Jazz is freedom, the possibility of creating without castrating restraints, it’s a world of feelings and sensations... And also a challenge, because even without setting my mind on it, without being asked, I try to translate all that into movement, into dance, even if it's in my head.

“Imagine when I have the responsibility of doing it for the scene, which is the case. How can one recreate the free spirit of jazz with the guidelines of choreography? That was the question I asked myself when I agreed to do this choreography…”

—And how did you answer that question?

—I wish I didn't have to answer it with words, I wish the choreography was enough. I simply let the music rule. I let the music guide me, chart a path for me. The language of  instruments, of rhythm, of melody...

“For me it was a process of adaptation to the logic of music. Create from that music, that the sound dynamics define the dynamics of the movement: that’s what I set out to do. Later on I explored the way that score operated in my body. And that's how Apparatus was born. “I conceive the piece as an invitation.”

—An invitation to what?

—I’d like the spectator to see, to enjoy beyond what one normally expects from the conventional roles of the dancer, of the simple performer of a choreography. An artist is on stage, but first he is a human being, someone with expectations, dreams, shortcomings, aspirations, conflicts, demands, preferences... and all of this necessarily exceeds the more or less strict molds of a technique.

“Like jazz, which seems to break some schemes to be able to express many feelings with absolute freedom. We try to transcend a certain stage ideal.

“That's why we start with academic guidelines and little by little we relax or reinvent them, we expand the spectrum. It's as if we were letting go of our moorings. In the end it’s not just letting go for the sake of letting, I don’t intend to break any tradition. What we try is to create a space of fulfilness, which is attained after dealing with certain contradictions. “All that suggests to me the music of Roberto Fonseca.”

—After a few years you return to perform with the National Ballet of Cuba, how has the return been?

—I was very young when I first performed with the Ballet, thanks to the choreographic workshop that the company sponsored. Now I feel like I'm entering through the front door. It’s a more serious job, I already have more experience. And that the opportunity comes thanks to the Jazz Plaza Festival seems very significant to me, since it’s a meeting which ultimately is a cultural movement; integrative, just like jazz. I’m happy to be part of such a valuable group of artists.

“Uniting jazz with ballet, with dance is a fabulous idea. I take this experience as a possibility for growth. I am working with several dancers, it’s not simply a solo or a duet. That raises many demands. I assume them with humility and enthusiasm. And now, after having worked with another classic company, in a very demanding creative process, I’m more comfortable. I'm like a fish in water. And jazz enhances that well-being.”

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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