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Nacho Duato portrait

Born in Valencia/Spain, Nacho Duato began his professional dance education at the age of 18 at the Rambert School in London. He continued his studies at the Mudra School of Maurice Béjart and eventually completed his education at the Ailey American Dance Center in New York.

In 1980, Nacho Duato signed his first contract at the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm. A year later, Jiří Kylián hired him for the Nederlands Dans Theater in Den Haag. For his achievements as a dancer, Nacho Duato was awarded the "VSCD Gouden Dansprijs" in 1987. His talent soon led Nacho Duato beyond being a dancer to devote himself to choreography, too. His first choreography for the Nederlands Dans Theater in 1983, "Jardí Tancat," featuring Spanish-Catalonian music by Maria del Mar Bonet became a highly praised success and earned him the 1st prize of the International Choreographic Competition in Cologne.

In 1986, Nacho Duato was appointed house choreographer of the Nederlands Dans Theater together with Hans van Manen and Jiří Kylián. During his tenure, he created more than a dozen choreographies including "Danza y Ritmo“ (Carlos Chávez), "Ucelli“ (Ottorino Respighi), "Synaphai“ (Iannis Xenakis/ Germanos Vangelis), "Boléro“ (Maurice Ravel), "Arenal“ (Maria del Mar Bonet), "Chansons Madécasses“ (Maurice Ravel), "Raptus“ (to Richard Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder), "Dreams of Ether“ (Marcel Landowsky), "Lament“ (Henryk Górecki). For most of his productions he collaborated with stage designer Walter Nobbe.

In 1990, the Culture Ministry in Madrid invited Nacho Duato to return to Spain and offered him the leadership of the Compañía Nacional de Danza. There, he formed a large œuvre and gained worldwide recognition with his ensemble. During his 20 years with the Compañía, he created more than 30 productions for its repertory, among others: "Cor perdut“ (Mar del Mar Bonet, 1989), "Concierto Madrigal“ (Joaquín Rodrigo, 1990), "Opus piat“ (Ludwig von Beethoven, 1990), "Rassemblement“ (Toto Bissainthe, 1990), "Na Floresta“ (Heitor Villa-Lobos/ Wagner Tisso, 1990), "Kaburias“ (Leo Brouwer, 1991), "Duende“ (Claude Debussy, 1991), "Empty“ (Musikcollage, 1991), "Coming together“ (Frederic A. Rzewski, 1991), "Mediterrania“ (Musikcollage, 1992), "Cautiva“ (Alberto Iglesias, 1993), "Alone, for a second“ (Erik Satie, 1994), "Tabulae“ (Alberto Iglesias, 1995), "Ecos“ (Stephan Micus, 1994), "Cero sobre cero“ (Alberto Iglesias, 1995), "Por vos muero“ (Musik des 16. Jahrhunderts, 1996), "Self“ (Alberto Iglesias, 1997), "Ofrenda de sombras“ (Musik des 16. Jahrhunderts, 2000), "Arcangelo“ (Arcangelo Corelli u.a., 2000), "White Darkness“ (Karl Jenkins, 2001), "Txalaparta“ (Kepa Junkera, 2001), "Castrati“ (Antonio Vivaldi/Karl Jenkins, 2002), "L’ Homme“ (G György Kurtág, 2003), "Herrumbre“ (Pedro Alcalde/Segio Caballero, 2004), "Diecisiete“ (Pedro Alcalde/ Segio Caballero, 2005), "Hevel“ (Pedro Alcalde/Segio Caballero, 2007), "O domina nostra“ (Henryk Górecki, 2008) and "Cobalto“ (Pedro Alcalde/Segio Caballero, 2009).

During his time at the Compañía Nacional de Danza, Nacho Duato also worked for other companies.  In 1992, he created "Duende" for the Nederlands Dans Theater featuring music by Claude Debussy. At the American Ballet Theatre, he created "Remanso" featuring music by Enrique Granados in 1997 and "Without Words“ (Franz Schubert) in 1998. In the same year, he choreographed "Romeo and Juliet“ (Serge Prokofiev), his first full-length ballet. "Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness“ (Johann S. Bach, 2000), "Alas“ (2006), "Infinite Garden“ (2010) succeeded. In Berlin, Nacho Duato adapted "Duende“ for the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1995, "Without Words“ for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in 2002 and "Arcangelo“ with the Staatsballett Berlin in 2012.

One year after his 20th anniversary at the Compañía Nacional de Danza, Duato left Spain and was appointed Artistic Director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 1st 2011. There, he staged two world premieres in 2011, "Nunc Dimittis“ and "Invisible“, and developed his own versions of "Sleeping Beauty", "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Nutcracker".

His newest production "Depakine“ was created for the Martha Graham Dance Company in 2014. By now, his work is included in the repertories of the most important ballet companies worldwide, including the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris, the Cullberg Ballet, the Nederlands Dans Theater, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Australian Ballet, the Stuttgarter Ballett, the Ballet Gulbenkian, the Finnish Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Ballet Covent Garden, the Bolschoi Ballett, the Boston Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, the Staatsballett Berlin, and the Ballet of the Mikhailovsky Theater St. Petersburg.

Nacho Duato received multiple awards as a choreographer: "Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" from the French embassy in Spain in 1995, the gold medal for Fine Arts from the Spanish government in 1998, "Benois de la danse" for his choreography "Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness“ in 2000, and "Premio Nacional de Danza" for choreography in 2003. Furthermore, the Spanish Department of Foreign Affairs awarded him the "Medalla al Merito Civil". In 2015, he received the prize of the city of Alcalá for arts and literature. In 2016, he became honorary citizen of his home town Valencia.

Starting with the 2014 / 2015 season, Nacho Duato has become Artistic Director of the Staatsballett Berlin. After staging his choreographies "Sleeping Beauty", "Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness", "White Darkness", "Herrumbre", "Castrati" and a new piece called "Static Time", he will present “The Nutcracker" and another new creation in the on going season.

CND2 - Alone, for a Second. Nacho Duato


Alone, for a second. Bailarina en escena
  • Choreography: Nacho Duato
  • Music: Erik Satie
  • Sets and Costumes:Nacho Duato
  • Light Design: Nicolás Fischtel
  • World premiered by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the AT&T Danstheater, The Hague, 9th September, 1993. Premiered by the Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 at Teatro de la Maestranza, Seville, 14th November, 2002.

In Alone for a Second, Nacho Duato consciously breaks down new ground in search of the still side of life, the introspective. The choreography has a cyclic structure, thus evoking the impression of a twilight state.

CND2 - Arenal. Nacho Duato


  • Dancer partnerChoreography: Nacho Duato
  • Music: María del Mar Bonet (Tonada de Segar, Carta a L'Exili, Tonada de Collir Olives, danza de la Primavera, Cançó de Bressol, Des de Mallorca a L'Alguer, Den Itan Nisi, Tonada de Segar.
  • Sets: Walter Nobbe
  • Costumes: Nacho Duato Lighting Design: Edward Effron
  • World premiere by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the Muziektheatre, Amsterdam on January 26, 1988. Premiere by the Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 at Teatro El Bosque in Móstoles, Spain, on February 7, 2004.

Arenal was choreographed by Nacho Duato, inspired by the songs of María del Mar Bonet. In this ballet, the choreographer’s purpose is to show the uninhibited cheerfulness of the Mediterranean personality contrasting with the everyday struggle of life.

Duato makes this contrast very obvious. On one hand, there is the dancing of a group of men and women motivated by the pure joy of music. Its jubilation is reflected in the clear movements of the dancers pas de deux, pas de trois, pas de quatre to Greek songs translated into Catalonian, and Majorcan ones by María del Mar Bonet.

On the other hand, one female dancer stands apart, dancing alone to four songs which are performed a capella. These songs are realistic content and seem to arise from an agonizing outcry of the heart. The dancer’s movements are nearer to the ground than those of the others. This is to express the influence of the land. Colour, choreography, movement, everything is undeniably Mediterranean.

Nacho Duato had worked with María del Mar Bonet in another ballet, Jardí Tancat. “Her music constitutes an important source of inspiration for my work”, says the choreographer. “Later, while I was listening to her record Gavines I Dragons, the idea of Arenal immediately occurred to me. At once, I began to consider the possibility of María del Mar Bonet joining us to give a live performance of her songs”. Duato sees Arenal as an extension of his first work, Jardí Tancat. “It is more vital, more lively, more faithful to the inner rhythm of the songs themselves, without abandoning the worlds of people and of work”.

CND2 - Concierto Madrigal. Nacho Duato


Concierto Madrigal. Dance partner
  • Choreography: Nacho Duato
  • Music: Joaquín Rodrigo
  • Sets: Walter Nobbe
  • Costumes: Nacho Duato Light Desing: Edward Effron
  • World premiered by Compañía Nacional de Danza at the Teatro Romea, Murcia, October 6, 1990.

Concierto Madrigal was the first choreography created by Nacho Duato for Compañía Nacional de Danza. The music used for this ballet is the Concierto Madrigal for two guitars and orchestra by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. This composition has inspired Nacho Duato to make a choreographic illustration of eight of the ten short movements of which the concerto consists. As a matter of fact, Duato has followed the concerto's musical guideline to reflect, with eight pairs of dancers -distributed in pas de deux, pas de trois, solo, pas de six ..., a succession of splendid scenes within an intimist context. The dominating atmosphere of the choreography suggests landscapes which are typically Spanish. On his part, Joaquín Rodrigo has based his work on an anonymous Spanish madrigal dating back to the Renaissance period, titled Felices ojos míos.

The composer has made the following comment on his work: "This concerto has freed itself of the classical melodic architectures and, the established dialogue and the concerto style adopted in its composition notwithstanding, it resembles more a suite, even though the supporting element is the variation. Each of the variations or episodes are described by their respective titles, which give a score is characterized by a delicate poetical sketch. Occasionally, and due to the theme's origin, the episodes are of a modal or archaic nature; in other episodes, the melody acting as a filament all through the work is inundated by a more popular feeling". Nacho Duato's interest and tendency to use his roots is a constantly recurring feature of his work. The music, the popular feeling, the colour of the land, are values employed by Duato to establish, in his own style, a mutual relationship between all the elements, where the movement merges with the environment that has been created. In Concierto Madrigal, far from basing himself on a specific line of argument, Nacho Duato has let himself become envelopped by the colour of nature, allowing us to discover a poetical feeling: the song of the people.

CND2 - Cor Perdut. Nacho Duato


Cor Perdut. Bailarines: Nacho Duato y Catherine Allard
  • Choreography: Nacho Duato
  • Music: María del Mar Bonet
  • Costumes and Light Design: Nacho Duato
  • World premiered by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the Nederlands Dans Theater, The Hague, April 27th, 1989. Premiered by Compañía Nacional de Danza at the Centro Cultural de la Villa, Madrid, June 30th, 1990.

Cor perdut is a pas de deux inspired by the Catalan version of the song Bir Demet Ysemen by Mª del Mar Bonet. This particular interpretation is based upon a theme with traditional nuances composed by the Armenian M.J. Berberian. “It's no use crying/it’s no use dying/desire is stronger/it goes its own way”, laments the impressive voice of Mª del Mar Bonet. Her hypnotic power over Duato - who created Cor Perdut as a birthday present for the Majorcan singer - is unquestionable, considering that two of the Valencian’s most brilliant choreographies are Jardí Tancat (1983) and Arenal (1988), both to music by this interpreter. To the syncopatic and hypnotic rhythm of the Tunisian percussion instrument, the two dancers bring to life this choreographer’s dynamic corporal and expressive language with the same anxious fluency transmitted by the voice of Mª del Mar Bonet.

Patricia García Ríos


  • Por Vos Muero. Nacho Duato


    • 26, 27 & 28 July, 2019
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  • Project Coordination: Maite Villanueva (CND)
  • Texts: CND