PL Schmetterling is a delicate piece. There is a lot of sarcasm within, some deeply human emotions are expressed, yet it requires refined dance technique. In addition, it is a new language for the company. We're not reinventing the wheel in Schmetterling, but it's that bridge between modern and classical work. None of the dancers have worked ever before with us. It's a rewarding part of the process of teaching the ensemble our language.
SL Paul and I have contributed various parts to this ballet, he in his way and I in mine. Then we combined the material to form one whole unit, in how the different colours interact in the wings of the butterfly.
PL In the word Schmetterling everything is contained that makes this ballet: show, life's cabaret, the absurdity and swift passage of time, as it also in particular characterizes the lives of dancers whose careers are not that long. This is why we have to find more happiness in the here and now. Plus, in Schmetterling there is the idea of transformation and the perceptions about death. What are our ideas about life and death? Where are we going? What changes are we striving for?
A choreography is like a poem.
SL As a choreographer, I am responsible for the poem’s breathing. There is no recipe or plan for this. When I choreograph, I never know where I will finish up in the end. I ensure that I satisfy the poem’s breathing at all times and that I carry it forward. It’s not something that happens consciously. I decide from out of my unconsciousness. You have to trust your inner compass.
PL We have always used titles starting with the letter S. As a child I liked Hitchcock films, and I said to Sol, you're always there like Hitchcock in his films where he makes an appearance. The S was a gesture for Sol's presence. And then the S became a mascot for us, a token, or lucky charm. There are very few pieces that we didn't use the S on. Our game around the S restricts us, but at the same time it gives us a root. Plus I find it to be a beautiful letter to look at. When our daughter war born, we also gave her a name with an S – Saura.
SL There is an important image in Silent Screen. It shows our daughter, Saura. She was six years old when we shot the film. I wanted to portray the beauty of the innocence of that age. And also inspire from the female side, the woman and the dilemmas and decisions that life imposes on her. In Schmetterling the old lady, the mother, the mother and the son, the daughter …
PL When I see our daughter on the screen now; she was six years old then, I think, wow, it seems like it was just yesterday. But it's not yesterday, it's a long time ago now. Anyone who sees a young child immediately gets that sense of mortality and the fleetingness of time. When we created Silent Screen in 2005, it was a really difficult period for Sol and I. Our personal relationship was dissolving and transforming into something else. We were trying to find our way through this labyrinth. Like any human being, we are vulnerable. And this was a very unstable time for us. We also recognised how our daughter's own consciousness began to change during this period. We felt that this was the end of her early childhood phase. How could we help her? How could she understand what her parents were going through? The work on Silent Screen turned out to be an outlet to express our fears, dreams, hopes and desires into a form. Poetry was an important element in this process. Because in the darkest moments, there has to be something that gives us light. In retrospect, I believe, we made something curative out of something painful.
SL You asked me how we find our way to the poetic structure in our ballets:
Because we love dance. Love is everything. However difficult what you do is, it must be moved forward by love.
PL Schmetterling had a different path than Silent Screen. We toured with it all over the world with NDT for nearly five years, then we said, let's put this ballet to sleep for a short while. But in 2020, we wanted to revive it for my last season as artistic director at the NDT. This ballet is about death, life, transition, and transformation …, then the pandemic came and we were forced to abandon it. That broke our hearts. Another big heartbreak was that we had to take our farewell at NDT during this time. It´s in my nature though; when difficult times appear, I become obsessed with making something good of a bad thing. So we also created some beautiful films to say goodbye to NDT, which wouldn't have come to life without Corona. At that time we had already proposed Schmetterling for Munich, so we knew that this ballet would see a stage again.
More conversation segments can be found in the program booklet for Schmetterling. On March 31, 2023, Schmetterling opens Ballet Festival Week 2023.