What inspired you to create Luna?

Luna was originally created for New York City Ballet in 2017. It was the first ballet I choreographed upon leaving my professional dance career, so in some ways, this piece represents that departure and my desire to prolong the fantasy of being on stage.

Quite honestly, I was devastated, and this ballet was a way to recollect myself and come down to earth from this dream of performing. I looked at the creation of this ballet as an expression of hope for a new beginning. So, Luna was my arrival to a divine sense of the creative process.

Norbert De La Cruz III with OBT dancers Hadley Kaufmann, Sophie Powell (guest artist), and Taylor Lim

What is Luna about?

Luna is not a narrative ballet, but it does transition from one thing to another. The whole piece symbolically represents a transition from my professional dance career to my choreographic career. 

I wanted to use my strengths and roots in classical dance to bring this vision to life through fluid neoclassical vocabulary. In this piece, I am exploring the energies between Earth and the Moon, foregrounding the ballerina as a conduit for the divine. It’s part ceremonial and part spiritual, as it mirrors the magnetism between people and their sacred relationships. This piece has luxurious connection points and sprightly energetic footwork of the pas de deux, and it orbits from idea to idea, melding from one constellation to another.

OBT dancers Alberto Gaspar and Ria Adachi

Was the music created specifically for this piece?

Nathan Prillaman and I are both Juilliard graduates and good friends. The New York Choreographic Institute paired us up to collaborate on this piece, so we have worked together on building the score for this ballet. 

This is the third restaging of Luna. Are you doing anything different this time?

I am restaging the general silhouettes of the original ballet, but the content, delivery of the steps, sequencing, and musicality are different now that I am working with a new group of dancers. It’s been several years since I last worked with OBT dancers, and I can see that the company is transforming and transitioning itself into bigger and better things. This group of dancers has an incredible dynamic! Luna celebrates the energy, artistry, and individuality of each dancer in the room, creating the unique content of this piece.

OBT trainee Alison Walters with OBT dancers Mario Manansala and Jackie Iwamura

What do you want the audience to take away from this production?
Luna is a celestial dance piece that was born out of a search for enchantment, wonder, and surrealism in what seems like a very challenging world. Departure from dance is a very challenging time for any artist… as they leave and mourn that part of their life and then transition into a new artist. For me, Luna is not about reaching for the stars. It’s about coming back to earth and admiring the vast experience of that time. It’s a celebration of that period of transition in my life and grounding my classical roots as a dancer into my choreographic process.

I am inviting the audience to create their own interpretation of the dance. I want them to come to the theater and see what transitions in their lives resemble the transitions and fluid connection points happening in the ballet. It’s really up to the audience to create their own dream and fantasy of this ballet, so I am leaving it open to their imagination!

The 2024 production of Debuts is on February 17 and 18 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Tickets are at https://www.olympicballet.org/tickets/

Photos by Katya Turnbow