Up close with Carlos Pons Guerra, the choreographer and founder of DeNada Dance Theatre on why audiences must be challenged as well as entertained,and why he couldn’t live without a dachshund called Fred
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I’m from Gran Canaria, Spain but have been living in the UK for 13 years, the last four in Birmingham. After training at the Royal Conservatoire for Dance of Madrid and Northern School of Contemporary Dance, I have choreographed for companies such as Rambert and Northern Ballet in the UK, Attakkalari in India, ENDanza in the Dominican Republic, as well as touring internationally. I set up DeNada Dance Theatre in 2012. I’ve been nominated for the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards twice. I recently choreographed a new children’s production for Birmingham Repertory Theatre and my new production for DeNada, TORO: Beauty and the Bull, premieres at DanceXchange on 22-23 March. I am also in New York creating a new work for Ballet Hispanico.
IT’S WHAT I DO
As a choreographer I make dance productions – normally very theatrical – with clear narratives and quite a bit of spice, with which I hope I entertain people as well as make them think.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
There are many dance companies around the world I would love to work with. I always aim for my work to grow in scale: more dancers, bigger sets, a full orchestra! I would love to collaborate with composer Alberto Iglesias and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca del Rio. One of my biggest ambitions is proving the hardest to achieve – to perform my work in Gran Canaria. I’ve been invited to work in many places around the world, but ironically it seems difficult to get invited to perform in my own land.
The dance world is a pretty tough place! I feel extremely fortunate just to be able to work in it. Every new work and project for me is a huge success because they offer a way to grow, learn, meet incredible people and see great places.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
A friend and mentor told me: “Carlos, whatever you do, you will always be a Catholic gay boy from Gran Canaria. So go with it.” I learned to always be yourself, find what it is inside you that makes you unique, explore and share that. When you’re yourself, beautiful and honest things happen.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
My first impression of Birmingham was that all the buildings were so different – you had Victorian next to Brutalist, next to something very avant-garde. I soon saw that this translated into its people as well. It’s a diverse and multicultural city, which makes it so fantastic. It also has an enviable performing arts scene and many theatres and festivals. It’s very inspiring.
My dachshund Fred is amazing at making me forget any stress. I’m also slightly obsessed with playing Mexican love songs on the guitar. They’re all about being heartbroken and having drunk too much tequila!