Following the success of Ham and Passion and Toro: Beauty and the Bull, Spanish-born choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra and his DeNada Dance Theatre return to UK theatres in 2020 with Pons Guerra’s latest dance theatre work, Mariposa, a transgender tragedy inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.
Mariposa (‘butterfly’ in Spanish) debuts this spring, with its world premiere at DanceXchange, Birmingham (27 and 28 March), followed by performances at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds (3 April) and The Lowry, Salford Quays (20 April). Mariposa dates for autumn 2020 will be announced soon.
Pons Guerra hails from Gran Canaria in Spain and trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and the Royal Conservatoire for Dance of Madrid. Nicknamed “the Pedro Almodóvar of dance” by the BBC, he is one of the UK’s leading emerging queer voices in contemporary ballet.
In Pons Guerra’s dance reimagining of Puccini’s seminal opera, action takes place in a Caribbean port. Under flickering neon lights a local rent boy and a foreign sailor fall ominously in love in DeNada Dance Theatre’s take on the Madame Butterfly classic, which is immersed in the mist of a Havana’s smoke; a cigar cloud in which a young man is asked to sacrifice his gender in exchange of love and a better life.
Mariposa transports Puccini’s Orientalist libretto to the turbulent political repression of post-revolution Cuba, to a dockland world of faded showgirls, hopeful rent boys, troubled sailors, and santeria (voodoo-like) spirits. Engulfed in a tropical storm of repressed desires, this brand new production is an exploration of what we are ready to sacrifice in order to be loved and accepted.
This dance opera is set to an original score by award-winning Spanish composer Luis Miguel Cobo (credits include Arakala Danza, Iván Perez, Marcos Morau, Carte Blanche, Wiener Staatsballett), which takes its inspiration from Caribbean sounds as well as Puccini, with libretto by French-Indian writer Karthika Nair (whose Until the Lions was adapted to dance by Akram Kahn). Designs are by Ryan Dawson Laight (who recently designed Blak Whyte Gray for the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue Entertainment) and lighting is by Barnaby Booth.
A diverse and intergenerational cast take this passionate new production to the stage. Amongst them, Leonora Stapleton, original cast and Associate Choreographer of both The Lion King and Tarzan on Broadway, as well as a dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet takes the role of Gertrudis, the dockland brothel owner. Harry Alexander, winner of the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in the category of Best Emerging Artist (2017), a dancer with Michael Clarke Company and Julie Cunningham amongst others, performs the title role of Mariposa, whilst Josef Perou, formerly with Phoenix Dance Theatre and National Dance Company of Wales takes the role of Preston, his beloved sailor. Olivier-nominated Luke Ahmet, formerly with Scottish Ballet and Rambert, plays the orisha deity, while former Ballet Hispanico of New York dancer Eila Valls plays Kate, the sailor’s wife, in this inclusive reimagining of an operatic classic.
Mariposa has been commissioned by Dance Hub Birmingham and Spin Arts, with further support from DanceXchange and the British Council. The creation and tour of Mariposa is also funded by Arts Council England.
Pons Guerra is currently creating his second work for Nashville Ballet and has also choreographed for Ballet Hispanico of New York, Rambert, Northern Ballet, the National Dominican Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, Cahoots Northern Ireland and Birmingham Repertory Theatre. In 2016 DeNada Dance Theatre received a UK Critics Circle National Dance Awards nomination in the category of Best Independent Company, and in May 2018 Pons Guerra featured in Prejudice and Passion, a BBC Four documentary that portrayed his journey as an emerging independent choreographer creating LGBTQ work.
DeNada Dance Theatre MARIPOSA UK performances in spring 2020
Friday 27 & Saturday 28 March at 8pm (WORLD PREMIERE on 27 March)
DanceXchange, The Patrick Studio, BIRMINGHAM
Tickets: 0844 338 5000 / www.dancexchange.org
Friday 3 April at 7.30pm
Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, LEEDS
Tickets: 0113 220 8008 / www.theatreleeds.com
Monday 20 April at 8pm
The Lowry, SALFORD QUAYS
Tickets: 0843 208 6000 / www.thelowry.com
AUTUMN 2020 dates to be announced.
Running time: Approx. 90 minutes (including interval)
Age guidance: 12+ due to content of a sexual nature