Herrumbre (Rust)

Nacho Duato

Ángel González
The iron that was the shaft, the steel
that formed the spindles,
the copper that conducted the energy
and all the metals
that under bitter, angled forms,
gave body to the machine’s parts,
that turned
with exact rhythm and submissive temperament,
with blind force and faith no less blind
for the benefit of man, for his hope,
all lie here, confused, worn out,
sunk in the same scorn,
dissolved by rust and salt, abandoned
by the very hand that one day gave them life.
Something might still be salvaged,
there is still the chance
that a second hand may come, and, taking pity,
heal the rusted wounds,
unfurl the kiss of oil
over chewed upsteel skin;
yet everything, in general, is lost.
The fire
will even out the cogs, the rods,
confuse the springs and pistons,
return the threadbare bolts
to their mineral inertia and nothingness,
to the raw material
from which
will spring forth other forms; cleaner, purer,
free perhaps forever
from the fatal stigma of scrap metal.When the Soul Turns to Rust.

  • World premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza: at Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (Spain), August 2nd 2004


Our eyes today are used to seeing the shocking images of the horrors which humanity is faced with, be they in Iraq or Guantanamo, to give just two recent examples; images which, in the words of the Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas, are “as old as the long night of times past”, but which appear before us in the daily newspapers alongside tempting advertisements which invite us, as members of a consumer society, to further bury ourselves under yet more frivolous purchases and consumable leisure.

This horror has come to form a part of our normal day to day lives. On the 10th of December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, thus establishing that freedom, justice and peace throughout the world are inherently based on the recognition of a series of equal and inalienable rights common to all. Conscious of the constant violation of this declaration as perpetrated by governments and leaders in the name of peace, religion, ambition or revenge, Nacho Duato has, through the medium of dance, felt the need to denounce such actions that only serve to heap shame upon humanity. “I was sick of seeing images on the television of all manner of violence and torture, and felt a growing need to translate all this terror into movement” explained Duato. “I find it repulsive to see how easily we have become accustomed to seeing such images of violence, which dominate our media to the extent that they show us upas being impassive and indifferent.”

Nevertheless, Duato feels that his “choreography is not only about torture, but also deals with how human beings can sink to such denigrating extremes, losing all possible dignity… In this piece I compare man to rusting iron, the very soul itself becoming scrap metal. I would like to clearly state that under no circumstances can torture ever be justifiable. Not even to save the lives of other people”. Continuing in a similar vein, he went on to say “When I try to think about what it is that drives a man to torture another, I can’t come upwith an answer; for me it’s something incomprensible, it’s easier to come to terms with the idea of a brutal murder. Herrumbre is a reflective, not a dogmatic piece of work – I’m seeking here to provoke people into meditating upon the matter. This is a situation which is repeated on a daily basis all over the world, not something a million miles away”.

According to Nacho Duato, in this production “the victim – tyrant relationship is expressed in a painful manner. Fear dominates the weakest element; uncertainty drives him insane as his torturer humiliates him, destroying him psychologically and physically. The whole choreography resembles a heartfelt shout; the dancers move alone in their own spaces, reflecting the loneliness of the victim, whilst at the same time I have used the chorus to express the idea of brutality. I have focused on the tortured prisoner and the prison guard; I’m not looking here at domestic violence or violence in the workplace – two areas that are currently receiving a lot of media attention and which constitute two other kinds of torture”.

As is typical in Nacho Duato’s work, there is an intense interchange of ideas when creating a new choreographic production, resulting in a very close and dynamic relationship with his musicians and set designers. On this occasion, Duato has chosen one of his habitual collaborators, the Iraqi set designer Jaffar Chalabi to work with him on Herrumbre, with whom he has worked before on a number of productions.“We first worked together in 1999, on Multiplicidad. Formas de Silencio y Vacío, (“Multiplicity – The Shape of Silence and Emptiness”) with music by Bach, a spectacular piece from a set design point of view, as we managed to find a perfect blend of baroque and high-tech. Jaffar has also designed the sets for four other productions of mine – Ofrenda de sombras (“Shadow Offering”), Txalaparta, Castrati and White Darkness. We have a deep mutual understanding when we work together” explained Duato.

“With Herrumbre the choreographic vocabulary is dominated by the expressivity of gesture. Fear outlines the figures in the surrounding space, stylised like a scream which is drowned by oppression. For this piece I have chosen music by David Darling – a series of solos for electric cello taken from his album entitled Dark Wood. As the counterpoint to this music, dominated by its use of adagio, I commissioned a composition from Pedro Alcalde, with whom I have worked before on numerous occasions, and Sergio Caballero, the co-director of Barcelona’s Festival Sónar. I asked them for a score which would reflect the most brutal aspect of the subject in hand: the noise of metal on metal, of prisons, of people being hit and so on.”


  • Choreography:
    Nacho Duato
  • Music:
    Pedro Alcalde / Sergio Caballero (Rust); David Darling (Dark Wood) -solo series for electronic cello.
  • Set Design:
    Jaffar Chalabi
  • Costume Design:
    Nacho Duato
  • Lighting Design:
    Brad Fields
  • Set made by:
    Odeón Decorados, SL
  • Costumes made by:
    CND wardrobe
  • Running time:
    45 minutes
  • Premiere cast:
    Yolanda Martín, Ana María López, Ana Tereza Gonzaga, Andrea Méndez, Tamako Akiyama, Nadja Sellrup, Luisa María Arias, Swee Boon Kuik, Gentian Doda, Dimo Kirilov, José Carlos Blanco, Amaury Lebrun, Jens Rosen, Oscar Salomonsson, Rafael Rivero, Francisco Lorenzo, Mathieu Rouvière