Choreographer Q+A // Kevin O’Day and Medhi Walerski

Ballet BC is thrilled to premiere two new works by international choreographers Kevin O’Day and Medhi Walerski as part of Grace Symmetry, February 20-22, 2014, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Kevin O’Day’s choreographic works have been called stunning by critics worldwide. American-born O’Day danced with the Joffrey Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet and New York City Ballet, among others.  He is currently the Artistic Director of Kevin O’Day Ballett Nationaltheater Mannheim and has created more than 60 works, including Face to Face that Ballet BC premiered in 2010 to great success. O’Day returns with a new work set to an original score by long-time collaborator and New York composer John King.

You may remember Petite Cérémonie, a wildly popular work originally created on Ballet BC in 2011.This successful collaboration was choreographed by European dance star Medhi Walerski. His work is renowned for its unpredictability and dazzling landscapes of movement and ideas. Formerly a dancer with the Paris Opéra Ballet, Nice Opéra Ballet and the Ballet du Rhin in Mulhouse, Walerski is currently a dancer and choreographer with Netherlands Dance Theatre (NDT).

We had a chat with Kevin and Medhi about the choreographic process and the inspiration behind their new creations…

Where do you get your inspiration for new work?

Kevin O’Day: For me it is “the opportunity” to make a new work. This starts with turning an idea into motion. The elements come into place in relation to implied or existing limits. I enjoy and embrace the challenge that limitations bring to creativity. Music, sound and duration always play a major role for me in dance-making.

Medhi Walerski: It can be music, images, feelings, dreams, personal life experiences, questions, people, photography, it is endless…

Do you come into the studio with a finished work or do you include the dancers in the process?

Kevin O’Day: I feel it is important to consider, respect and collaborate with my materials in any given creative process. Since the dancers are the main material, they are extremely inclusive in my process. The created object only resonates when they dance it. So when a process of total collaboration with the dancers happens, you can see their originality more fully, this is very important to me.

Medhi Walerski: Dancers are essential in the process, a big inspiration. With the process, I tend to go first with intuition and then I question it. The philosophical aspect to my work comes once I have material to reflect on.

How long have you been choreographing?

Kevin O’Day: 20 years. Since 1994 I have choreographed 62 works.

Medhi Walerski: 8 years professionally.

What other projects are you working on?

Kevin O’Day: A new full-evening concept together with composer John King. Its title will be Kammerspiel and it will be premiered May 4th in Germany. In March, I will also dance The Four Seasons with Robert Glumbek in Toronto as part of the Dance Works series. Also, I’m working on a new, Shakespeare-inspired work for Ballett Mannheim.

Medhi Walerski: A new work for NDT premiering in a year. I am also still dancing for the company.

What was it like working with Ballet BC?

Kevin O’Day: Great, inspiring, challenging, fun, exciting, a blast … (I could go on and on!)

Medhi Walerski: Refreshing, challenging and inspiring.

How would you describe your piece for Grace Symmetry?

Kevin O’Day: This one I don’t know. I cannot be objective on this … it’s not for me to say. You could say the piece is very energetic! It is about the body in motion.

Medhi Walerski: I can’t describe it, I haven’t seen it yet, the stage will tell. 15 dancers, 2 live musicians, 5 preludes from Lera Auerbach, silences, props… that’s where the piece is at now.

Tickets on sale now at or by calling 1-855-985-2787.

Ballet BC Dancers Peter Smida and Livona Ellis. Photo by Yvonne Chew.
Kevin O'Day by Yvonne Chew
Choreographer Medhi Walerski. Photo by Yvonne Chew