Queer take on Madame Butterfly
Spanish-born choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra - nicknamed “the Pedro Almodóvar of dance” - and his DeNada Dance Theatre are at Salford’s Lowry Theatre on January 16 for a single performance of Mariposa, a new queer dance-opera tragedy inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.
Pons Guerra, one of the UK’s leading emerging queer voices in contemporary ballet, comes from Gran Canaria and trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and the Royal Conservatoire for Dance in Madrid before founding DeNada in 2012.
In his reimagining of Puccini’s opera, the action takes place in post-revolutionary Cuba, where a local rent boy and a foreign sailor fall ominously in love. It’s set to an original score by three-time winner of the Spanish MAX Awards for the Performing Arts, Luis Miguel Cobo, who takes his inspiration from Caribbean sounds as well as Puccini.
It’s danced by a diverse and inter-generational cast. Harry Alexander, winner of the UK Critics Circle National Dance Awards Best Emerging Artist award, and a dancer with the Michael Clarke Company, and Julie Cunningham - among others - perform the title role of Mariposa. Preston, his sailor, will be danced by Stan West, who recently toured with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and performed in Marianne Elliot’s Olivier and Tony Award-winning production of Angels in America at the National Theatre.
Pons Guerra has also created work for Rambert, Sadler’s Wells, Northern Ballet, the National Dominican Ballet, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Cahoots Northern Ireland. In 2016 DeNada Dance Theatre received a UK Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards nomination in the category of Best Independent Company and in May 2018 Pons Guerra featured in Prejudice and Passion, a BBC Four documentary that showed his journey as an emerging independent choreographer creating LGBTQ work.