Choreographer Q+A // Gustavo Ramirez Sansano

“…highly original, starkly expressionistic…emotionally fierce, sensual… riveting from start to finish…” is how the Chicago Sun Times characterizes the work of Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano.

A rising star in the international dance world, he is the former Artistic Director of the prominent Chicago-based Luna Negra Dance Theater and the recipient of many awards for choreography, including competitions in Barcelona, Hamburg, and Valencia. He has shared his unique dance vision with Compañia Nacional de Danza, the Hamburg Ballet, Budapest Dance Theater, Ballet Junior de Genève, and Netherlands Dance Theatre II.

Ballet BC is the first Canadian company that Sansano has chosen for his newest choreographic adventure. Gustavo will also return next season for Rite, a two-part evening focused on a choreographic re-imagining of Rite of Spring with Emily Molnar.

Gustavo chats with us about his new work and his first time working in Canada.

Where do you get your inspiration for new work?

It’s always different. All the ingredients such as the music, the space and the atmosphere, come at different moments. At some point those ingredients somehow come together and then I start a creation.

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

I like to include the dancers but it all depends on the individual dancer and the time we have to develop a conversation.

Do you have a philosophical approach to your work that you apply in your process or do you respond more to the music you’re working with? Or a combination?  

I will not call it philosophical. I just react to  the theme of the project, the challenges that I put on myself, the moment and the people I am working with.

How long have you been choreographing?

21 years.

What other projects are you working on?

Right now my head is working on Lost and Seek with Ballet BC, El Beso with Ballet Hispanico, Cinderella with Bale Teatro Guaíra in Brasil, La Metamorphosis in Proyecto Titoyaya in Spain, Osnabruck in Germany, The Rite of Spring with Ballet BC and a creation with Ballet Met in Columbus, USA. I am also talking to two other companies to see what we can do together.

How would you describe your new piece for UN/A?

An intimate experience.

What was it like working with Ballet BC for the first time?

I enjoy the dancers a lot and it makes me very excited to know that there is more to come.

How do you like working in Vancouver versus other cities you have worked and choreographed in?

I really enjoy the calm and open minded feeling of the city.

Watch behind-the-scenes footage with Gustavo and the company artists here.

Tickets for UN/A on sale now at, or by calling 1-855-985-2787.

Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. Photo by Yvonne Chew