Interview with Adrienne Canterna

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Adrienne Canterna in ‘Rock the Ballet’

Meeting international dancer and choreographer Adrienne Canterna was something of a dream come true for me – I have adored her work since I first saw ‘Rock the Ballet’ in 2012.

Adrienne started ballet at three years old, and quickly started taking tap, jazz and modern classes – she then got into acrobatics: “Everything just kept coming, one thing after another!”

When and how did you first get into choreography?

“I don’t really know – it just started happening! When I was very young and I was a student, I never wanted to be a choreographer, I only wanted to dance, be on stage and be the star. I think when I had my daughter I started to want to create new things, maybe because I’d just made this new thing! When I was pregnant with her was when I choreographed the first piece for Bad Boys of Dance. So I’m not sure how or why I got into it but I think it was her.”

What advice would you give to wannabe choreographers?

“It’s about not letting yourself be too heavily influenced by social media – so many choreographers, or up-and-coming choreographers, will see something on YouTube and then just copy it, so there’s no creativity or originality, and there’s no inner spirit in the movement. So I would say just listen to your body and your mind and be creative, be daring. Try and see shapes in your head and feel your movement, even if it feels strange, have fun with it – you’d be surprised how something can be created so naturally. Don’t be too hard on yourself just keep going!”

Adrienne is the choreographer of ‘Rock the Ballet’ as well as a dancer. “My company Sweetbird Productions also owns the show, so I partner with producers around the world to present ‘Rock the Ballet’ everywhere.”

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What inspired you to create ‘Rock the Ballet’?

“I wanted to make something that was really fun and inspiring for the audience. I knew that we would have fun dancing it – even though it’s incredibly difficult and tiring, and it takes so much more skill, energy and hard work than people realise – but I wanted to make something that the audience would never forget and that would make them feel good.”

How do you work with the dancers to create the choreography?

“Just a lot of experimenting, a lot of playing around in the studio and a lot of mistakes. I create phrases based in my ballet technique and then I sort of build upon them, build upon the ballet basically. But something that looks good on me may look terrible on them, so I have to keep watching them, keep editing … so it just takes time.”

Do the dancers sometimes participate in the choreography?

“Apart from the opening of the second act they don’t actually choreograph anything in the show, but because I let them express themselves individually and it feels like their own choreography when they do it. It’s definitely an extremely collaborative effort.”

Adrienne told me never in a million years would she have expected to be reviving the show nine years after its first tour.

For the revival, did you completely rechoreograph the ballet?

“No, I took pieces from the first ‘Rock the Ballet’, ‘Rock the Ballet 2’, ‘Rock the Ballet UK’ and ‘The Best of Rock the Ballet’ (which opened in Germany a couple of years ago). So there are pieces from 4 or 5 different versions of ‘Rock the Ballet’, as well as some new pieces I created, which made a completely new show!”

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Which out of all the countries you’ve worked and danced in is your favourite and why?

“My favourite country in which to relax, eat, drink and explore is Italy, because I’m Italian so I love being there – it feels like I’m home. Although, I went to India a few years ago and that changed my life! I always love coming here to France – it took us so long to get back here and I’m so happy that we did! I love dancing in Germany because it is the home of ‘Rock the Ballet’: all the ‘Rock the Ballets’ have premiered in Germany as well as my ‘Romeo and Juliet’. I just love travelling, it’s such a cool thing to be able to travel!”

Adrienne said she found Germany and France to be the best countries for the dance scene. “The audiences aren’t just loud and happy and energetic, but they also know about theatre and dance, so it’s a really good blend.”

What are your ambitions for the future?

“I just want to keep making shows! I hope I’m still going to be a really good mom, and I hope I can dance for many more years without getting injured. Even if I do get injured, I hope to be behind the stage and making shows, it’s what I love to do and I think that we can make a lot of difference in the world with dance and music.”

You can find out more about Adrienne and her work on http://www.sweetbirdproductions.com/

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