7 Things you should know about being a choreographer

We chat to dancer and choreographer Aaron Cash about the fiery production Ballet Revolucion, dancing with Cher and what it’s like to be a choreographer  

Reader's Digest: Tell us a little bit about Ballet Revolucion  

It’s a high-energy dance show that uses contemporary and classical Cuban dance. I guess it’s like So You Think You Can Dance on stage but Cuban style. It’s a good time! Basically, these people with incredible bodies jump all over the stage doing amazing turns and leaps and they have a fantastic band behind them. They just leave everything on the dance floor. These days, when you see a lot of dance shows, they tend to hold back a little bit more. They want to be cool and a little bit aloof and Cubans just aren’t like that. They just have this innate ability to hear music more deeply than other cultures, because it’s such a big part of their upbringing and their culture. Even the cab drivers in Cuba are really good salsa dancers!  

"Through his body, he was able to convey his story in such a way that he was proud"

 

RD: Is there such a thing a typical day in your life? 

Right now I’m not doing that much because I’ve gone back to study Classical Theatre in London. But normally a typical day takes place when we’re in Havana and we’re rehearsing. The dancers have class at 10am.  They finish about 11.  I’ll get rehearsal in by 11:15. Then we’ll work for a couple of hours, have lunch, come back and work from three in the afternoon until about six. We’ll do that five days a week, and then a half-day on Saturday. We’ll usually maintain that over about two months, just creating new things. I tend to work pretty fast!  

 

RD: What makes a good dancer? 

Passion and heart. A lot of it is intangible.  You can have someone who’s an incredible technician but then lacks the passion. When I was on So You Think You Can Dance Australia there was an Indigenous dancer on the show and he didn’t have a great technique. He couldn’t do a million turns, but when this gentleman stepped on stage and performed, he just melted your heart—he's a storyteller. Through his body, he was able to convey his story in such a way that he was proud. It just hits you in the gut and the heart.  

 

RD: What’s your favourite thing about your job? 

I love the rehearsal process and working with dancers, they’re like my family. You’re also constantly creating, and the production is always changing, depending on who you’re working with.  

For example, in Ballet Revolucion, new dancers have come in and taken over certain roles several times and then they brought something new to them, and it changes the production slightly every time—it’s a really creative, collaborative process.  

 

RD: What’s the biggest highlight of your career?  

I would say with Ballet Revolucion it was when we got to do the royal variety performance for the Queen for her 60th Jubilee. Two of my pieces were selected to perform to the Queen, that’s really cool.  But the funny thing was, we were all dressed up and I had to wear a tuxedo, but I was just downstairs the whole time getting the dancers ready in the backstage—I didn’t even get to enjoy it. [Laughs]. So that was a big highlight, but so was dancing with Cher on her Love Hurts tour.  

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