Robert Battle Answers Your Questions – Part 1: Choreography

Posted April 26, 2013

You asked, and Artistic Director Robert Battle has the answers. In our three-part Facebook Fan Question series, get inside Robert's head and discover his thoughts on choreography, music, artistic leadership, the future of dance, and more.

Part 2: Artistic Leadership & Music
Part 3: The Future of Dance & Staying Resilient

Robert Battle on Choreography

Jessica A. Yirenkyi asks:
Describe the moment when you know/feel that your choreography is "ready" to be showcased to the public or performed.

You never really know when your choreography is ready. I think that you are always a little insecure about it. Usually, I don’t know until somebody else is in the studio watching it and I can feel the exchange between the viewer and the work. That lets me know whether or not it is ready, just by the energy in the room. But you’re never finished. It never feels complete in your own mind. You always think, “Oh, maybe I could have done that a little bit better,” and that’s just the nature of being a creative person.

Victoria Gwinn asks:
Do you ever get nervous when presenting your work?

I’m always nervous presenting work. I think once you get to the point where you’re not worried about presenting work or dancing or performing, I think you should probably look at a new career move. I’m always nervous, because of course there is that side of you that wants people to like what you do. I think that’s inherent in any performer, even if they don’t say so.  But then again, I try just to support the dancers who are doing the work and so I try not to let them feel my nervousness and only my support, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.

Rebecca DeButts Covington asks:
Do you ever feel the need to create work that will connect with your audience members or do you focus on other goals when you work?

I always want to make work – and to see work – that connects with the audience. I think one of the cornerstones of the Ailey company is that we connect with our audience; that’s why we have had such a vast audience for so many years. To me, the single most important thing about being a choreographer or dancer is communication. If the work does not communicate, to me it is not successful. That’s how I view it. It doesn’t mean that the audience has to love everything that you do, but just feel and experience what you do in a way that is visceral.

Ronald Bailey asks:
Where does your inspiration come from?

For me, inspiration comes from my dancers. These are some of the most marvelous dancers in the world that I get a chance to work with, and that inspires me to choose repertory I want to see them do. As a choreographer, I’m interested in what they think physically, and what their experiences are physically – that inspires me. So the inspiration really is, once again, people. Rather, it’s people doing some courageous act; that human quality is always what I connect with.


Above: Artistic Director Robert Battle rehearsing Takademe with the Company. Below: Robert Battle rehearsing Strange Humors with Antonio Douthit and Jamar Roberts. Photos by Paul Kolnik


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