New York, June 17 The “alchemy” of Laura Esquivel’s novel “Like Water for Chocolate” (1989) seduced the American Ballet Theater in New York, which will perform it next Thursday at the Met Opera, at a gala in which the author will be present mexican.
The dancers, infected by the plasticity of the story, break on stage with the rigidity of classical ballet to let themselves be carried away by their feelings and immerse themselves in the territories of modern dance and magical realism.
“I think that the most difficult thing for a classical ballet dancer is that we are very accustomed from childhood to thinking about the form, about the posture and these are more human roles. So at the beginning it was a bit difficult to get rid of that posture and the formation classical, so purist,” the Argentinian dancer Luciana Paris, who plays the role of the cook Nacha, told Efe after a rehearsal.
The three hours that the work lasts, which last year was staged by the Royal Ballet of London, also by the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, are full of “magical” moments, as Esquivel herself points out to Efe.
One of them surprises at the beginning, when the white sheet with which Nacha covers the protagonist Tita when she is still a baby, turns into bread dough that Nacha and an already adolescent Tita knead, eager to learn all the secrets of the kitchen.
“The challenge for me was to find, in those first moments, a way to connect through the movement to Tita and her love relationship with the Nacha family’s cook and her relationship with cooking,” Wheeldon assured the public who attended a rehearsal of three scenes from the play.
The representation of Nacha’s death on stage with a simple movement of her chest that rises or the repression and release of Tita through the tying and untying of a corset, are other moments that Esquivel considers loaded with alchemy.
“Christopher is truly an alchemist of movement, the way he can translate and narrate is impressive. Translate from one language to another, to movement, and provoke such deep emotions,” Esquivel says on a call from Brazil, where he works as ambassador of your country.
A PROJECT WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF ESQUIVEL
Before being commissioned to stage “Like Water for Chocolate,” which has been translated into 36 languages as well as stage and ballet, Wheeldon came to Esquivel’s story through its film version.
“The moment I started watching it, I was transported to the world of Laura, who also wrote the script for the film, so she was also part of the creative process. And that led me to the book and, really, it has been a story that I have loved for many, many years,” he said.
Esquivel says that the choreographer went to visit her in Mexico, where he prepared chiles en nogada -the recipe for the last chapter of the book- “to talk” with her. “He stayed for about a week because he wanted to know very well where the story came from and how,” she adds.
Then he repeated the visit with the whole team. “I opened the entire trunk where I have the entire history of my family in the house, so that they could see issues of the time, fabrics, skirts,” she adds.
“I really appreciate the way they included me in their project and somehow allowed me to be present,” he stresses.
THE KITCHEN, THE UNIVERSAL ELEMENT OF THE NOVEL
Esquivel says that “people appropriate history, people assimilate it” and considers that cooking is the element that unites the novel with all the cultures to which it has been translated.
“I have traveled to many countries where the novel was a ‘best seller’ and I can tell you that there is a phrase that is recurring throughout the world: in Finland, in Japan, in Patagonia, wherever. They tell me, you don’t know how I remembered my grandmother’s kitchen”, he emphasizes.
For her, this is “a very powerful element of connection with a subject of great importance”, the connection with the earth, with the mother, with the past.
She also thinks that cooking is a kind of dance in the kitchen and, also, alchemy”, as in her novel, where the dishes that Tita prepares provoke all kinds of feelings in the diners who try them.
“Alchemy is also there, in the way that you are transforming and mixing and integrating. And you make other things out of different things,” she explains before adding that in the film, she wanted to integrate “that rhythm, even when people are cutting there is a rhythm all the time, it is a musicality between the vapors, between the sounds of the pots, between the sounds of the table”.
A sound, a musicality, an alchemy and a plasticity that the American Ballet will serve to the public on the stage of the Met Opera, where the tables will also be protagonists. EFE