This much I know: Javier De Frutos

By Sarah Daniell

A few words from choreographer Javier De Frutos.
Venezuelan-born choreographer, Javier De Frutos.
Venezuelan-born choreographer, Javier De Frutos.

I'm not sure in my line of work there is failure. You need to take risks and they may not always be well received but if you don't constantly strive to be ahead of the curve, you end up being an imitator. I give my all and I am lucky that by doing so, those around me do the same but when a project doesn't get the attendance or critical acclaim that we all hoped, we evaluate what we could do better and move on. Failure is just a state of mind.

I feel unencumbered, optimistic, carefree when I love and am loved back. Easy. Reciprocated Love. With a capital R and a capital L.

Through the lens of an outsider, I see New Zealand as this dramatic giant that has one foot planted in Europe and the other dipped in the Pacific. This vision becomes clearer every time I come to visit and drink my expertly mixed martini at Matterhorn (Wellington). I always know I have arrived when this happens! People I meet throughout the world speak of New Zealand as one of those places that touched them deeply.

I simply cannot sit down to I Feel Love and Last Dance. How could anyone blessed to have ears and fortunate to have feet ever say no to Donna Summer!

Beyond the rigours of the dance world, I am lazy on rainy Sunday mornings when I have a good book to read and nothing pressing to do. But really, lazy just isn't in my vocabulary.

I am shocked by the fact that nothing really shocks me anymore. But I still use the
word because with the full lips I inherited from my mother, it gives me a very engaging pout.

What drives me to madness is passive aggressiveness and pigeonholing. I live in London. At times, and when dealing with people trained at it since birth, it can feel like a national sport! That is one of the reasons I find New Zealand so refreshing.

I regret not loving as much as I could at every turn in my life and that includes people. A common saying for me that helps me embrace new friends and create new alliances is: "I never regret the times I loved, only the times I didn't." I believe in kindness and generosity and at the end of the day, I think everyone is just doing the best they can with the information they have up until that moment.

Anatomy of a Passing Cloud. Photo / Evan Li
Anatomy of a Passing Cloud. Photo / Evan Li

Men and women are created equally in my dance world. Yet at the same time I encourage and reward the differences. A number of female choreographers have inspired me and that has helped me understand the unique aspects of each gender and, of course, I always embrace equality on stage. Despite this, I would like to believe that talent has no defined gender - just a huge amount of discipline, work, sweat and passion to realise our greatest possibility and rise above stereotypes.

One turning point in my life was my collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys for a full-length ballet. We had to think bold, big and completely outside the box. It was definitely new and felt full of possibilities, which made me anxious for more. And then of course, a recent Olivier nomination for Anatomy of A Passing Cloud. Almost 14 years since my first work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, is great fun to still be making ballets for them and makes me absolutely committed to seeing that our next work goes even further!

Venezuelan Javier De Frutos is an award-winning choreographer, who created several works with the RNZB, including Anatomy of a Passing Cloud in 2013, which was nominated for the prestigious Olivier Award in London earlier this year.

- Canvas

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