In Coversation with Choreographer Durante Verzola, PAGANINI, In Play
We caught up with Durante Verzola (far left) in rehearsals for the world premiere of his new work, PAGANINI, In Play. This is the second ballet Verzola has choreographed for the Company.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you begin dancing?
I grew up in a military family, and trained at ballet schools across the country, from New York to Alaska. I spent summers at The School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, before enrolling full time under scholarship at Miami City Ballet School in 2012. I completed my training there before going on the dance with Pennsylvania Ballet and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. I began choreographing as a student at MCBS, and have gone on to have my work performed by Miami City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet II, the dancers of New York City Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Guggenheim’s Works & Process, and more.
Is there a specific moment that shaped your career as an artist?
A moment that shaped my career was having Lourdes Lopez see the first ballet I choreographed as a student at MCBS. From that moment, Lourdes supported me and mentored me through my career. Many incredible opportunities came out of the premiere of my very first ballet, leading me to make many connections which allowed me to hone and practice my craft. It came full circle when I had my first mainstage premiere with Miami City Ballet last spring with a work inspired by Miami that featured dancers who I grew up watching, dancers who were in class with me at MCBS, and some of my former students.
As a choreographer, how do you approach the process of creating new work?
Music is always the inspiration for my new works. I really try to capture the essence, personality, and perfume of the music, and show what kind of movement is inspired by the emotions heard through the music. I don’t come into the studio with the exact steps I am going to use, I enjoy being inspired in the moment by the dancers in front of me, and specially crafting steps and phrases for their unique movement qualities using classical ballet vocabulary.
Tell us a bit about your new work. What is your inspiration behind the piece?
The inspiration comes from the music of violinist virtuoso Niccolo Paganini. His music is intricate, playful, passionate, energetic, lush, and nuanced. I hope to capture these qualities through a new ballet that challenges the dancers both technically and artistically. I plan to have a live string quartet on stage with the dancers, showing the beauty and freedom that the dancers can find when a perfect marriage between music and movement is achieved. I want to show how pure dancing, non-narrative ballet can express a range of human emotion and expression.
What do you hope the audience takes away?
I hope the audience is left with a deeper appreciation for ballet, for both its sheer beauty and its ability to transport them, making them feel, relate, and connect to art.
What most excites you about bringing your new work to South Florida audiences?
I look forward to showing the community what amazing art they have in their own backyard. Amidst our busy lives, there is beauty and connection to be found in dance—an opportunity to see the ability of the human spirit through a different lens.