What Inspires Choreographer Gemma Bond

December 2, 2019

Gemma Bond’s rise as a choreographer has been not meteoric but steady, characterized by constant creativity and commitment to her craft. Her style is informed by her dancing career—she performed in the corps de ballet of two of the world’s most renowned companies, the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Because of this, she says, “I tend to do more of a company piece. You can never really say there’s one principal couple.” Bond began choreographing at age 13, in the Royal’s Sir Kenneth MacMillan Choreographic Competition. More recently, she’s created works for ABT, The Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, and others. Her ballets have been performed at the Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow, the Youth America Grand Prix gala, and the Erik Bruhn Competition. You can see a world premiere of Bond’s new work for the National Ballet of Cuba at the International Ballet Festival in the fall of 2020. –Cadence Neenan

Devon Teuscher and Calvin Royal III performing Bond’s “Depuis le Jour” (Rod Brayman, courtesy Bond)

“I recently saw some of Akram [Khan]’s Giselle, and I was really inspired by that. It was very different to what I’ve ever seen before, and I just thought, ‘Maybe I don’t have to put so many boundaries on myself.’ Sometimes I do a movement naturally, and then I think, ‘That isn’t classical at all,’ or that I haven’t put enough ballet in, but, at the end of the day, I don’t think it matters, as long as there’s movement and a narrative.”

“When people ask me ‘What do you do?’ I always say it’s very traditional ballet with traditional technique. And then, the dancers that have danced my works will shake their heads and say, ‘No, you have crazy port de bras.’ ”

“I take inspiration from so many people in different ways: Christopher Wheeldon’s partnering is amazing, Alexei Ratmansky’s corps de ballet work is so strong, the structure of Pam Tanowitz’s work is amazing—the list goes on and on.”

“I always love to see New York City Ballet. The way the dancers move is really inspiring. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, they seem to play with the music in such an interesting way. And, because I didn’t have that training, when I’m watching them, it really inspires me to play with the rhythms of the technique.”

“I think, if you’re a corps de ballet dancer, you have a lot of responsibility, but in the grand scheme of things, you have the least responsibility in the production—the most weight falls on the principals. So, when I started, I had to prove myself, that I could take all that responsibility. I hadn’t been seen in that capacity before.”

“I’m not interested in telling stories like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. I want to tell stories that are happening today, that we can all relate to, stories that I know.”