Issue 002 Patrick de Bana
”From soul to soul....we do speak.”
Patrick de Bana is a dancer and choreographer that make us find thoughtfulness like a philosopher, behind his exotic features. He had been mentored by great artists such as choreographers John Neumeier, Maurice Bejart, Nacho Duato and the film director Carlos Saura. He has collaborated with big stars such as the stunning prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova of Bolshoi Ballet, the virtuoso dancer Ivan Vasilliev and the flamenco superstar Eva Yerbabuena. He is a black sheep of the ballet world, working globally from Europe to Russia and Asia. Many have been charmed by his deep gaze and artistic physique, broad pointe of views, and have been bedazzled by his choreography that has personality like no other.
How did the boy born in Hamburg, Germany encounter dance?
“Actually how I did enter the ballet world is probably not such a common way. The reason why I was holding a ballet barre and was doing exercises was because when I was a small boy (5 years old) was dancing around whenever I did hear music. My mother thought that in order to make me calm she would send me once a week to a ballet class for children. Not far away from home there was a private school so I went and loved it and wanted more and more.
By the time I was 10 the teacher from this school Madame Scheurer said to my mother that there is nothing more that she could do for me and that if I wanted to go on I should audition for the ballet school of the Hamburg Ballet (directed by John Neumeier). So I did. I went to the audition with my mother and was taken into the school. From this moment on I had class 6 days a week. And again I wanted more and more....And here I am today.”
Patrick has been sought out as a choreographer from all over the world, and from very diverse companies, such as Shanghai Ballet, National Ballet of China and Vienna State Ballet, as well as working with many renowned stars. Born from a diverse background, his father from Nigeria, his mother from Germany and his grandparents were from Poland and Húngary, he easily jumps across race; borders, culture and genre, and that might be his secret of his magical charm.
“I think that it is the mixture between Europe and Africa that runs through my veins. The first world and the so called, Third World. White and black. North and South. Classical education in dance and pure African traditional knowledge in my blood. I think all this makes it attractive to all the wonderful people I had the chance working with. I think my strength is within my searching for the soul....with all the people I am working with.
Svetlana Zakharova said once to me that working with me and my way of looking at work is different. “
Patrick’s background itself is very unique, first his ethnic background and the fact that he has worked with many important artists Although he might have been influenced with those mentors, his choreography is like no other.
“I think that what might make is a little different is that I am very very much in touch with my inner self, my roots, nature and spirituality.
Plus I would consider myself not as an intellectual choreographer....I am working with only my instinct, heart and emotions.
Plus I was so lucky to have met and worked with the most amazing people. I consider myself very lucky and see it also as an obligation to carry on all the knowledge that was given to me, and to introduce it in my life. And the combination of this came out as emotions and love. And this is probably why people are touched by my work.
From soul to soul....we do speak. “
Patrick now works as a freelance choreographer and dancer working with many companies and artists. He is travelling a lot for his work, from Europe to Russia, China, and recently to the Middle East. Travelling is part of his life. So where is the place he does call home?
“My home is in Madrid, Spain. After I left the Compania Nacional de Danza (Nacho Duato was the director at that time), I decided to stay in Spain. A wonderful country to live and on top I am so lucky to be able to live outside of the city center in the countryside. With all my travels for work it is wonderful to always come back. As for my travels I do love to work in Asia, Japan, China, Turkey and Russia. For my personal live one of my favorite places on Earth is Istanbul. I do love Istanbul so much.
This November I have for the first time a wonderful project in the Arabic gulf country Bahrain. Now I have been there 3 times and I love the Arabic world a lot. For me exoticism is so important.”
Patrick’s creations are often based on people who are a part of history such as Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, and King Ludwig. He has been attracted to history and the people who had lived in the past.
“I simply love history. I love all this dramatic characters that went through time and history. There life was so rich, so full of passion and drama. Words those are so important to me. In a way they come to me. The characters from the past are always coming to me. I love visiting their lives. I am sure that it was Maurice Bejart that introduced me into the magic of the past.”
Through Patrick’s social media, one can find out that he loves animals especially dogs very much and in particular very much care about the welfare of them. He had even said in an interview that he was planning to become a breeder of dogs.
“OHH YES....I love animals so much. They are our best friend. Unconditional love is what they give us, no matter whom you are and how you are. It is also their sixth sense that is speaking to me. They know.... long time before we know. They know the secret. They know what love is about.
I just adopted a wonderful new friend. His name is Lenny. He is more than my dog. He is my friend and companion. He brings happiness and sunshine into my life and I try to give him all my love. It is perfect harmony.
I always said and will do for sure. I will have in the future a refuge for dogs. It is a place where they can live a happy life. It will be a place full of street dogs in my home, where they can finally find a home.”
Visiting Japan many times, Patrick has created "White Darkness" for Tokyo Ballet which was such a beautiful work, and also “Apollo” for the Spring Music Festival in Tokyo, besides visiting Japan to participate in galas led by luminaries such as Farkh Ruzimatov, Manuel Legris and Svetlana Zakharova. He has been inspired by Japanese artists and Japanese culture.
“My inspiration is coming from the one and only Tamasaburo Bando. He is my hero. A living treasure and I am so lucky to know him and met him a couple of times. My dream is now to be able to work with him and share the stage with him one day. I absolutely adore him.
Another great Japanese artist is Yoji Yamamoto. I love his creations.
Yukio Mishima is the one that got right to my heart. Beauty, pure beauty comes from all three of them.”
There will be a gala called “Stars in Blue” gala in Japan in March 2019 organized by Manuel Legris. Patrick will be choreographing a new work for Manuel Legris and Olga Smirnova, and a male duet for Semyon Chudin and Masayu Kimoto.
“The duet for Olga Smirnova,and Manuel Legris will be inspired by the last book I read. “Silk” by Alessandro Baricco. The book is about an encounter of a French silkworm merchant and his obsession with the concubine of a local Japanese baron. The book plays in the Bakumatsu period. A book I do recommend to everyone.
About Semyon Chudin and Masayu Kimoto, the duet speaks about two brothers where one of them is deadly injured and how they say goodbye to each other. Actually I got the inspiration form a movie. The two brothers are werewolves.
As you can see, I like special people and situation to take them as my personal inspiration. I always give total freedom to the audience to see what they want to see in my work. There is not only one reality. There is not only one truth. There are many worlds and depending how we feel in this moments, everything can change.
I like this and also expect the audience to be free and make up their own personal world and reality when they watch my works.”
What will be plans in the near future for Patrick’s expanding universe?
“I will start a new creation this coming January in Moscow, Svadebka / Les Noces with music by Stravinsky. Then in March I am happy to have our new project in Japan “Stars in Blue”. I will be in Shanghai to rework and rehearse my last creation I did two years ago over there, “Echoes of Eternity”. It is about Emperor Ming and his favorite concubine Lady Yang. She committed suicide in order to save the reputation and power of Emperor Ming. All plays in the Tang Dynasty.
I will also do a short creation for the next year’s Nureyev Gala at the Wiener Stattballett. Also next Autumn I will start a new creation of the story of Medea.
And in 2020, I will be back in China with the Liaoning Ballet to create “Notre Dame de Paris”. The Directress got in touch with me and asked me to do a new version of this complex story.
These are some of my upcoming projects.”
The little boy inside Patrick appears when he speaks about his dreams. The magical world that appears on stage with him might be the realization of his fantasies.
“My dreams are to create and create and create. This makes me dream because I can enter a different world with my mind, heart and soul. My dream is to be in peace with the world and myself. My dream is to never stop dreaming. To dream...means to be free. “
And these messages for his fans show the generosity, his kind sprit and wide heart of this rare artist. We cannot wait to see another new magical world of Patrick de Bana.
Use art and culture to find you in it reflected.
I will be so happy to be back in Japan in March next year with two new works of mine.
I do hope that they will speak to you.
Enjoy life...It is the biggest gift given to us. I see you soon.
All my best wishes...
PATRICK DE BANA.”
PHOTOGRAPHER: Yumiko Inoue
STYLIST: Tatsuhiko Marumoto
HAIR and Makeup: Lee Hyangsoon
FLOWER ARTIST: Michiko
INTERVIEWER: Naomi Mori
ART WORKS: Yuichi Ishii at OTUA
SPECIAL THANKS TO: Yuka Hirata at D-CORD
Patrick de Bana choreographs a new work for
on 8 March, at 19:00, and 9 March in the matinee at 14:00 at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre（TOKYO）
on 11 March, at 19:00 at The Symphony Hall（OSAKA）
on 14 March, at 19:00 at Medikit Arts Center（MIYAZAKI）
on 17 March in the matinee at 15:00 at Aichi Arts Center（AICHI）