Glance on ...
16 Jun 2010
Tribute to José Ferran

Through courses and workshops and with your advice, of course. And sometimes through screams! Through the will to fight relentlessly against the vagaries of time passing, against the aging that strikes dancers’ mistreated bodies all too fast, against passing fads for certain physiques, against the aptitudes of those who are supposedly against dance. You instill your credo in us: willpower. But that’s not all.

The intelligence of the movement exuded your state-of-the-art instructions. Never a placement too many or an obsessional drift away from technique that sometimes takes precedence over the consciousness of being on stage. Your lessons always included respect for others, without body bullying or maiming dietary restrictions. What do women want?

Because of your love for ballerinas, you knew how to transmit—without making us read Freud—fragility, doubt, and the blunders that professional ballerinas confront.

In this aspect, your teaching went beyond today’s methods, and the boundary between classical and contemporary dance was erased.

You understood human beings, respected their choices, and underpinned their motivation, but you didn’t spare their flaws. An “étoile” dancer, a choreographer or an amateur. From José Carlos Martinez, the little PEPITO to Renato Zanella and Jean Christophe Maillot, that you brought together for the ballet “Nuit,” (Night)…passing by all the others that danced for you the forgotten jewel “Ma Mère l’Oie” to a Bellini aria.

 You who made pirate copies of operas with your friends! You who were so proud to have danced with Violette Verdy, and also with Leslie Caron in musical comedies like “Daddy Long Legs,” where you had a great time. You who were a one-man band and professor under Béjart, dancer, particularly in “Le Loup,” and substitute ballet master in Roland Petit’s troupe. You who made your stage debut at the Liceo theatre, in the city where you were born, Barcelona, and you who who were hired at your first audition at age 16. You who were there, right when Cuevas started, traveling from Monte Carlo to Paris, departing and returning…

You met “Madame Rosella,” as the pupils called her, when she went to Barcelona. You are the walls, the soul, the spirit, and also the PINCH of seriousness of the Cannes school. “We’re not here to have tea, here we dance!” is what you used to sometimes shout at the top of your voice to revive muscles gone numb from the summer.

You would deny us applause at the end of our classes. You would say that “it would go to our head.” Consequently, our silence was just love in return. And we would leave, eager for the next class. As long as we were on time! But allow us today the pleasure of honoring you, please. Dance is present through you. You taught us so much. Thank you.

José Ferran died Feb. 2, 2000, in Barcelona.

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