The Choreographer Mats Ek

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Mats Ek — Choreographer

Program notes

For Swedish choreographer Mats Ek, unconventionality seems to be the sine qua non of artistic creation. To hear him tell it, the singular boldness of his choreography is less a conscious intellectual choice than the translation of a pure emotional reaction. “I cannot work in any other way,” he proclaims in this eye-opening documentary that follows him and his dancers as they prepare for the premiere of his new work: Juliet and Romeo, Ek's Shakespearean reimagining that gives “new life” to the well-worn tragedy with an all-Tchaikovsky score.

Follow filmmakers Andreas Söderberg and Björn Eriksson to Stockholm’s Royal Opera House for a window into Ek’s exacting process and the dedication required to actualize his vision on multiple fronts: he fine-tunes set decorations, gives detailed feedback on costumes, and at nearly 75, hurls his body on the floor to demonstrate the way he wants a sequence performed. The end result—emotion made motion—makes the pain worth it: just as Shakespeare and Tchaikovsky drew inspiration from those who came before, “we definitely climb on the shoulders of them and that’s the way it should be,” says Ek. “We are part [of] a long chain, and that’s a beautiful connection.”

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