DDP Talks to Andrea Schermoly

Resident Choreographer of Louisville Ballet

How long have you been Resident Choreographer?
I’ve been Resident Choreographer since 2018.

Tell me about your history with the Company and Artistic Director.
I’d been aware of Louisville Ballet from my youth due to the international directors that have directed there; in particular Bruce Simpson who is also from South Africa.  When I’d reached out to Louisville years ago with my choreography work in the hopes of reciprocal interest, Robert Curran had just taken on the directorship.  We had a hilarious typo exchange on social media that was immediately disarming and in addition to this amusing exchange, Robert was also interested in my work, which I was excited about.  He invited me to participate in their annual ChorShow where I was given a cast and a musician collaborator, Tim Barnes.  The piece and process went well and after subsequent work on a ballet, ‘The Great Bear’, Robert asked me if I’d like to be a resident choreographer at Louisville Ballet.  I’ve since created 8 original works for LB, including an original ‘Rite of Spring’ and I truly love the musical and story collaborations that have been proposed by Robert.  We continue to have a wonderful, trusting relationship and I admire his vision and his risk taking.

What does your role involve?
I am commissioned to work with the company on a somewhat regular basis as Robert sees fitting for the season’s lineup.  I create and collaborate with the dancers on both short term and long term projects.  I see my role as a creative platform for all of us; opportunities to explore, refine and define my movement language and my conceptual approach but also an opportunity to coach and help dancers expand their craft and artistic abilities.  I work with collaborators of all sorts; some designated, some chosen, and am tasked with synthesizing these influences and ideas in order to produce a work that is compelling, high quality, daring, unique and created with integrity.  I want the dancers to grow and experience themselves fully in these processes too.

Andrea, you are originally from South Africa, underlining that ballet/classically inspired dance is international in scope, which fits neatly with our Data Byte, you ended up in Louisville, Kentucky, tell us about your experience there as the 3rd resident choreographer.
I have had the great fortune of working with fabulous Robert, the incredible artists of the Louisville Ballet and a very hard working, awesome production/repetiteur staff.  I’ve had many a gift of collaborative experiences including creating a new Appalachian Spring with the outstanding Louisville Orchestra lead by Teddy Abrams.  This amongst other creations have grown my musical tastes, depth of knowledge, range of styles and the wherewithal to head a team including designers and pre-production.  I had the opportunity to create and direct  a made for film ‘Rite of Spring’ and really took on all aspects of that production.  It was a beautiful, exciting success and something I’m very proud to have done with the entire company in a time of Covid turmoil.  It was due to Covid that I decided to stay living in Louisville and I love it.  The community is great and the arts are innovative.  It is a special, energetic city that deserves world class dance…and is receiving it.

What’s the best part of the job/role?
The people, the passion, the laughter.  Creating something out of nothing with human bodies and hearts, where onstage it remains as ephemeral as the idea it stemmed from.  It’s truly the most gratifying thing to be in a room of artists and explore humanity together and to grow.

Is there a current project you would like to discuss?
I am currently in tech week for my full length ‘Romeo and Juliet’ original classical creation with Royal New Zealand Ballet.  I’m thrilled to share this with audiences soon.  The set and costumes are designed by Academy award winner, James Acheson, set to Prokofiev’s magnificent score, played by the New Zealand Orchestra and danced beautifully by the gorgeous RNZB dancers.

In Louisville I will come back and start work on the full version of ‘The Great Bear’ ; an Iroquois tale written with blessings from Chief Oren, by Olly Williams.  Olly is a prolific, internationally renowned artist/painter with his art partner, Suzi.  We are producing the narrative tale that illuminates how the Ursa Major came to be, according to Iroquois legend.  Our collaborators are First Nation and Native American artists with whom we will craft this story for stage.  It’s a beautiful tale and I’m excited to bring a subject matter to the theaters that (ironically) connects us back to nature.  A story that celebrates and upholds the traditions of the Iroquois nation.

Want to learn more about Andrea Schermoly and Louisville Ballet? Visit their website here.