Blanca Li is an icon and a creative force who keeps exploring the possibilities offered by the full spectrum of the arts: dancer, choreographer, composer, filmmaker and artist. Her incredible talent and artistic curiosity have led her to work with the best, including eminent institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera, NY and the Paris Opera Ballet. Jean Paul Gaultier, Rossy de Palma, Pedro Almodovar, Paul McCartney and Michel Gondry among many other talents, are close friends with whom she has also collaborated in the past. It’s an honour to talk to her about her tastes in art, her inspiration, Spanish culture as well as “Solstice”, her upcoming show at the Chaillot National Theatre in Paris, premiering in September.
How do you define your art?
My art is what leads every choice I make in life. It has already led me in many parts of the world, it gave me the opportunity to meet fantastic people and to see so many beautiful things.
Choreographing is the most accurate way of expressing how I feel and how I think. Creating is also something I do to share my thoughts with the public.
How was it to work with Martha Graham? Best anecdote with her and how much did it impact your life and art?
Martha Graham was an incredible person and a legendary dancer. She has been (and she still is) a major source of inspiration to me, especially as a woman choreographer. The fact that she decided to create her own style inspired me to do the same and to be myself. I feel so grateful to have had the chance to learn around her.
I have been choreographing a piece for the students of the Martha Graham School in New York two years ago, and it was beautiful to be back at the school after so many years..
I created my first choreography at one of the students choreography workshops when I was still a student. The day we performed at the studio Martha was there. She looked at me during the applause and nodded in approval with her head. She liked my piece! I was so happy and I will never forget this moment.
I settled in Paris more than 20 years ago because Paris is a fantastic place for artists. I love the energy the city has to offer, and the fact that there are always things happening. People come and go, you meet new artists every day whom you will meet after, all around the world. Paris is a real centre for culture and art, and I need this energy to create.
Are you still friends with Pedro Almodovar, Victoria Abril, Christian Lacroix, Rossy de Palma? Would you ever work with these artists again?
Yes, we are still very close friends and we see each other often except for Christian. It has been a while since we saw each other but when we meet, it is always as if we had seen each other the day before.
They are all great and inspiring artists, I have always enjoyed collaborating with all of them very much. We all work all the time and if there is an opportunity to work together we never miss it.
How do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by everyday life: everything I see can become an element of a show. My work reflects what I am interested in, what amazes me and what worries me in real life.
Who are your heroes?
People who must survive every day, especially in this moment when life is so difficult for so many people and the people who are trying to do something to change this.
Are you impressed by anyone (emerging artists, choreographers, movie directors or singers) these days?
I’m impressed by artists who manage to survive in this crazy changing world and especially those who make a long career by themselves.
I worked with the musician Joakim recently in New York. Last Winter, I directed and choreographed a video for his song “Samurai” on a rooftop. I enjoyed very much working with him and Camille Henrot, I found these two young artists very impressive.
Best exhibition you have seen recently and who do you follow in contemporary art?I have recently seen Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition at the Musée Rodin in Paris. I love his work very much. I love contemporary art and I try to see all kinds of exhibitions.
I also saw the Diane Arbus exhibition at the Malba Museum in Buenos Aires and it was so moving and strong.
What was the most difficult part of setting up your company?
I like to achieve everything I have in mind and the difficult part is that I often have to make choices. The most difficult part is to have to constantly find ways to finance the company.
Your best memory of being part of the 1992 Seville Expo?
The fact that I could create and present my choreography “Nana and Lila”.
How do you look at Spain today?
Spain is still my home country and I feel sad when I see how difficult things are over there. I worry a lot about my friends but at the same time there is still a great energy in Spain; people are very positive and there is a lot of solidarity.
My next creation will be a show called “Solstice” at the Chaillot National Theatre in Paris. It will be an environmental show about our relationship to nature and the elements… The premiere will be in September in Paris.
Show you are the proudest?
I love them all, like you love your kids, each one represents a moment in my life.
How was it to work with Goldfrapp?
I loved it!
Who would you dream to collaborate with?
I love to discover new artists.
Favourite Spanish painter?
How do you define ‘movement’ or dance?
Movement is what gives life to a body. The physical language has its own rhythm, its own codes… Dance is the construction of a discourse in this movement language.
How do you look at performing art, I mean the fact that ‘dance’ or ‘movement’ enters museums such as the Tanks at Tate Modern in London, or events such as the Block Universe festival / Performa, Tino Sehgal at Palais de Tokyo etc. is another example?
I think mixing the arts is a great source of creation. Some painters or sculptors had a fantastic sense of movement. I think bringing various art forms into a dialogue is very interesting.
Things you are excited for the rest of 2017?
I have two creations coming up in 2017: one in September and a second one in December. My company is also moving into a new dance studio soon in Paris. I have lots of projects!