Cayetano Soto. Photo © Michael Slobodian

Ballet BC will perform Eight Years of Silence, a world premiere by Cayetano Soto, in Program 1, an evening shared with the North American premiere of B.R.I.S.A. by Johan Inger. I interviewed Cayetano by phone a couple of weeks ahead of the performance.

Performances run Nov.2-4, 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets & info at

October 14, 2017

What is Eight Years of Silence about?

Fears sculpt your soul – that was the first idea to start the piece. I was going through so many fears in my body. Sometimes, when you have doubts and fears, there comes a lot of voices in your head and a lot of question marks. But for me, there was just silence. How is this fear expressed in our body, and what does it mean when there is silence in the body.

How did the creation of this piece change your relationship with fear?

Maybe the fear lasted a week, two weeks or a month like this, but to me, a small moment felt like eight years, and this is why it’s called Eight Years of Silence. Time for me passed very slowly. Time is relative; time stretches. You have to work to overcome your fears. If you have something negative, you have to study it and battle it, and you have to continue moving on. If not, you’re going shrink, and you will not move from this point. I’m also looking for how I can turn something negative into something positive. I always think about transformation. If you keep moving, you’re still alive. Movement is life. I would say I had already overcome the fear when I started to create this piece, because I had the possibility to look back on it. Being in the studio and creating the piece put all those fears away because one of the fears I had was that I wanted to quit my work. But I said to myself, “No, Cayetano, you cannot quit, you have to continue.”

What directions did you give the dancers to help fulfill your vision for the piece? 

Isolation. How does it reflect the person that you have lost in you? Because this is reflected in our emotions and to the people around you. I always tell the dancers that there is no right or wrong way to express emotions; it’s just choices that we make. I would tell them how I express isolation, and then ask them how they would express it. They have to find their artistic voice as well. After, we take my voice and their voice, and we make the choreography. This piece has my signature, my movement vocabulary, but I also want it to reflect the movement of the dancers. Of course, I make the decision in the end of what I want to see.

Silence seems like a difficult theme to express with moving bodies.

Silence can be very hard to find; even when it is very quiet around you, your body isn’t. This work has changed my rhythm. You’ve seen my pieces – there is a catharsis of energy, “vooom!”, until it becomes an explosion. It’s the first time I’ve created a piece that is very calm; it’s quiet. This is what I wanted to reflect, whiteness. It’s not an explosion; it’s not an eruption; it’s not a volcano. It has all those elements – the piece is still burning – but it is more like you are going through dark waters. When you see it, you become quiet; it makes you, just, calm. It’s still very fast, very demanding. It’s complex; the pas de deuxs are super complex this time, even more than before. I said to the dancers, “This piece has to be contagious. There has to be a bad virus underneath. It’s contaminated.”

Ballet BC dancers have been integral in the creation of this piece. After its premiere, would you be able to set this piece on another company?

The way that I work, especially the work I set here, it is very hard because, in the end, it’s about personal choices. To set the work on other companies, I have to adapt the work. It happens always like that because you create something for a specific dancer, then you have another person in front of you and automatically, it gives you different answers to the piece. It’s very hard when I have to change things, especially for my assistant, Mikiko!

We are now 2.5 weeks to the premiere. How far is the creation process?

In structure, not even half; in movement, it’s all done. I finished the piece two weeks ago, but I said to Emily (Molnar, Ballet BC’s Artistic Director), “I am still changing the structure of the piece in order to understand the ballet; the numbers need another order, and the numbers need to have another order with the music, otherwise the message will be unclear.” For example, I had the piece start with the group section, but now I think the group section needs to be three numbers later and I want to start with the solos. So I need to change the music for the group section and the solos. Because, the thing is, I never count, so it’s easy. And with the score by Peter Gregson that I have, it is easy to make the changes; the score is very beautiful and very atmospheric.

What part of the body fascinates you and why?

The first thing that I look at in a person is the hands, and then it’s the feet. The hands are one of the things you move more in the body. You are constantly using them – to pick up something, when I’m talking to you now even, I’m moving my hands. The feet because they are the first thing we feel in the body when we touch the ground.