Contemporary dance company director on ‘Falling Man’, Central Asian Dance Festival, Astana Opera and Astana Ballet Theatre

ASTANA – Executive Director of Company E, contemporary repertory dance company, Paul Gordon Emerson, recently premiered the company’s ballet performance of “Falling Man” as part of the International Central Asian Dance Festival (CADF) in Astana. Emerson shared his impressions about the capital, Astana Opera Ballet Theatre and CADF with bnews.kz.

Falling Man. Photo credit: CADF Astana Facebook.

The Central Asian Dance Festival (CADF) took place in two stages: the training of dancers July 2-Aug. 4 and the production of “Falling Man” that premiered Aug. 5. The training sessions gathered more than 100 young artists from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. It is designed to become an advanced educational centre focused on developing neoclassical and modern choreography throughout Central Asia.

“It is very pleasant to work with Kazakhstan. We usually say, we learn to dance before we learn to speak. The language of communication does not always help us understand each other like our movements. Cooperation with dancers and choreographers from Kazakhstan was one of the brightest moments in my professional career. It is not so much professionalism as the passion and desire of people to develop in this direction,” said Emerson.

Emerson said the idea to realise CADF initiated in Karaganda while he conducted seminars with his colleagues and Astana Ballet Theatre.

“We expected to see 30 participants at a seminar and it eventually gathered 212 participants. It lasted for three days and gathered people from all over the country,” he said.

Paul Gordon Emerson. Photo credit: CADF Astana Facebook.

“After the seminar, young coaches and choreographers started to approach us and asked for help with developing the direction of American dance, particularly, the technical details of contemporary dance, hip-hop and jazz styles. They can acquire necessary skills to accomplish their ideas and at the same time, support themselves and their families through their favourite hobby,” added Emerson.

During CADF, the leading dance professional held master classes in the neoclassical ballet, contemporary dance, modern dance, Broadway, improvisation, jazz and hip hop styles.

“We have been very lucky to teach all around the world, and there are only a few countries that we single out. We call them ‘dancing countries’ because they are of such high level of ability that it’s very motivating for us to come and work and share. Because the talent is extraordinary and dancers from Central Asian countries have amazing dancing skills,” said Emerson.

“I have been to many countries, but I have never seen such impressing buildings as Astana Opera and Astana Ballet Theatre,” he added.

Emerson also noted Astana Opera is the dream of many choreographers and dancers.

“The premiere of the ‘Falling Man’ performance can only take place in Astana Ballet Theatre, as it is technically the only theatre that is suitable for it. For us, it is the greatest opportunity – to use all the technical equipment and make this performance the way it was intended,” he added.

“Falling Man” is the story about New York and how it can always play tricks on people. The world premiere took place in Astana Ballet Theatre. CADF participants performed on stage.

“New York is my hometown. I wanted to show how diverse it can be. Despite setbacks that can happen there, New York has the ability to recover. ‘Falling Man’ is about how a city can overcome difficulties,” said Emerson.

Lance Erickson, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer of the U.S. Embassy, thanked the festival partners, Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports, National Academy of Choreography and all participants.

The U.S. Embassy in Astana and the Kazakh National Academy of Choreography organised CADF.