Dancing around the world with Elisabet Biosca
Barcelona-born Elisabet Biosca is a CND soloist dancer with an impressive track record performing key roles, such as Carmen, Lady Capuleto or Bathilde. She has danced numerous choreographic works, including pieces by Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin, Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe and Alexander Ekman. She has also performed leading parts in short films combining dance and interpretation; most of them under the direction of María Salgado Gispert. She is currently studying for a higher degree in Choreography and Interpretation. She directed the piecesSN Serial Number (2014) with Antonio de Rosa, Home (2016) with Agnès López and Solitud (2017).
Your beginnings in dance were in your birthplace, Barcelona, at L’ Institut del Teatre. How do you remember that time? Was it much different from working at the CND in Madrid?
In Barcelona, they really pushed us with technique and interpretation and, above all, they drilled us with the idea of respect for style. When we did run-throughs, we never stopped unless the whole thing was a disaster or somebody had fallen on the floor or something … We simply carried on to the end and that was valuable preparation for solving any problem arising on stage.
Speaking of the CND, you have been with the Company a long time. What have those 11 years been like for you
Generally, I think I’m extremely lucky and I’ve had a great career. I’ve had my ups and downs but I’ve worked hard and I’ve also learned a lot—dance things and non-dance things. That’s allowed me to grow, both as a person and as a professional.
In 2016, you rise to soloist category. What did that mean to you?
Basically, it was a recognition but, at a personal level and at a work level, nothing changed. I carried on working the same as before. I didn’t take it as a medal and an excuse to relax. I feel proud of what I’ve achieved but think it would have been an error to change my attitude or approach to work.
Within the Company, you’ve had many leading roles. How do you cope with that responsibility?
I have a lot of respect for the choreographers, for the choreographies, for the roles to be interpreted and for my colleagues. If we’re dealing with a character role, I do try to get inside the skin of my character, or get an understanding of who I’m going to play … as with Carmen, for instance. But if we’re dealing with choreographies centring around movement, then I focus on the technical side. Because of the way I am, as a person, I tackle the responsibility of interpreting a main role by focusing on it as a “game” challenge. Beyond responsibility, the “game” is focused on how to defend the role in the best possible way.
As you said, one of the roles you’ve played is Carmen; a true icon in the world of dance. How was it for you taking on the part of somebody who stands as a legend for women’s liberty?
I love Carmen and it is an incredible role. What was hard in the beginning was to understand certain of her attitudes. There are sides to her character that don’t resemble me at all; for instance, when she lets Don José lose his rank in order for her to escape. That lack of empathy is maybe what was hardest to understand. It took quite a few rehearsals before I clicked and was able to leave Elisabet aside and become Carmen and understand why she acted that way or took certain decisions.
Another main part you’ve played recently is Bathilde, from the production of Gisellechoreographed by your current director Joaquín De Luz, and which premiered at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in December last year. What was it like to play her?
It was great fun. Her character is from a court of nobility, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s more a play of roles on stage; each character is just so into him or herself and she is just another one among them. It’s great fun.
Apart from your career as a dancer, you’ve also appeared in some short films, many of them directed by María Salgado Gispert. What is it that connects you with her?
I got to know María in Madrid. She was in charge of making promo videos for the Company and that’s how we met. One day, she asked me to take part in one of her shorts and from there we really gelled. And the friendship happened.
in Ixtab, one of those shorts, you play a controversial part, set in the 1920s, together with other colleagues from the Company. It’s more o fan acting part than a dancing one. How do you approach that discipline?
For that short, I took a few private classes. And, as it turned out I liked it and had a good time doing it, I decided to take acting classes after we finished the short. In that production, María really made a leap of faith with me, as I’m not an actress. The story is really lovely and is based on real-life events. I read the book and it was really great; I enjoyed it a lot. Carmen Granel was in charge of the wardrobe, which was really exquisite, and she received a prize for that. It’s also amazing how María can do so many things: like, she was the screenwriter, the director … she did everything. And it’s remarkable how she can create so many characters, stage everything that happens, develop the story … Acting is a world I like, really.
In contrast, in Mills Papier Mâchè, you work with another dancer from the company, Daan Vervoort, but this time the piece centres around dance. Do you feel comfortable dancing for the cameras?
As you cannot really look at the camera, it’s perfect for me because you completely forget about that and so there is no intimidation. If they make me look straight at the camera or at somebody else, I can easily blush. But as that is not required, you can just get right into it and let it take you miles away.
You also have a choreographic side. Tell me what it’s like to be on the other side or things in the class or in rehearsals.
I approach it with a lot of respect, especially towards the choreographers, who inspire me and thrill me. I don’t like to call myself a choreographer for that reason, because I don’t feel like I have that special ability to direct. I mean, I can create things but I don’t think of myself as a choreographer at the level of those I admire. Now I’m studying for the higher degree, and we have to create choreographies, and I treat it with great respect when I have to direct or give instructions to others because, having been on the receiving end, you know how they would like to be treated, so you try to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. You can really tell when you’re with somebody that has been on the other side.
To finish, and to take advantage of it being your day today, what is your favourite birthday cake and food?
Tiramisu or cheesecake. I did a choreography in the youth company IT Dansa in Barcelona where we sat in our chairs, eyes closed, and we had to enter into a state of extasy and pleasure. They told us we could imagine what we liked … and I imagined that they had brought me a tiramisu. Nobody knew my thoughts but it seems I transmitted what they asked. I thought to myself, “if only you knew what I am imagining …”
ELISABET BIOSCA – SOLOIST DANCER CND
Interview by: Sandra Cadenas