Rem Hass on Creating “Sleeping Beauty Dreams”

Rem Hass, who gained international attention in 2015 for creating Gravitation, an award-winning art film starring celebrated prima ballerina and at that time the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre Diana Vishneva, has been working on his latest project Sleeping Beauty Dreams, the most significant world-class production to come out of Miami since Justin Peck’s Heatscape.

In the largest project of his life to date, Rem Hass merges contemporary dance, art, EDM music and latest 3D digital avatar technology to expand the story of the beloved fable by imagining what might have happened to Princess Aurora during her 100-year-long sleep. Unlike beloved Tchaikovsky’s interpretation, Sleeping Beauty Dreams breaks away from both classical ballet and fairy tale genres. Instead of another love story, Hass wrote a scenario that is relevant to everyone today. His Aurora is the Princess of the inner world, who comes face to face with her own dark side. Antagonized by her inner Demons Aurora has to choose between Good and Evil after realizing that she contains both.

Having previously worked with Diana Vishneva, Hass created Sleeping Beauty Dreams with the dancer in mind. An icon of the international ballet world Vishneva is praised for her ease performing both classical ballet and contemporary dance roles. William Forsythe called her a “dance philosopher,” Rem Hass “a visionary progressive in finding new ways of expression.” The production presented a perfect opportunity for Vishneva to experiment with modern techniques and the timing for the collaboration couldn’t be better: the prima stepped down from her leading role with ABT last year and started working on Sleeping Beauty Dreams this past summer, three months after having a baby.

The show will premiere next week at the Adrienne Arscht Center during Art Basel Week before going to New York and later on a world tour in 2019. Hass sat down with #MIAMIGIRL to share his ideas behind Sleeping Beauty Dreams.

Rem Khass Creator Sleeping Beauty Dreams
Rem Hass, Author, Creator and Executive Producer of “Sleeping Beauty Dreams” photographed by Ekaterina Juskowski for #MIAMIGIRL

If “Sleeping Beauty Dreams” is not a fairy tale, what is it?

I wanted to write a story that would be relevant for me and hopefully everyone today. The boundaries between Good and Bad are very blurred in the contemporary world and it becomes more and more difficult to tell the two apart. Each person has to make choices that take us closer to one side or another. The decisions we make as individuals are controversial as they influence not only one’s own life, but inevitably the lives of those close to us, and also what’s going on in the entire world. Sleeping Beauty Dreams is a story-symbol, not a classical fable. As a dream, it has no linear narrative. Straight-forward linear events are irrelevant. The dream tells a metaphysical story. Everything the protagonist feels inside becomes immediately visible to the viewer.

You say “Sleeping Beauty Dreams” is not a ballet. Can we call it art?  

Absolutely. Contemporary art is developing in the interdisciplinary field. Art in its pure form stopped developing about 10 years ago and everything truly exciting today is interdisciplinary. Traditional forms of art are not dead like some say, they are just not relevant today. Relevant art has always been the one that didn’t accept old methods looking for new ways of expression. Technology today has become precisely the new medium that provides new methods of expression by mixing different types of art. In Sleeping Beauty Dreams , for example, digital avatars are not a background in the classical sense but active participants of the performance. There is no background, just layers that add up in one.

Rem Hass on Sleeping Beauty Dreams
Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes

Who are the artists you are collaborating with and why did you choose them?

I’m very lucky to have a unique team. Diana Vishneva was the first one, who agreed to work on the project. Throughout her career she has always been curious about the future of theatre and open to taking risks. This project is a big experiment for her. She is a true visionary. This is why it was important for me to find a choreographer, who could work on the same level with Diana. Edward Clug is traditional in his understanding of the importance to preserve high mastery in the contemporary ballet. At the same time his ideas and research about the possibilities of the human body are extremely progressive. He is now choreographing for a human body and also for 3D digital avatars created by Tobias Gremmler.  Gremmler designed six demons that represent six different inner states of the protagonists. Each one of the demons will dance with Diana in real time, mimicking her movements on a 25-feet-high screen. I saw the work Bart Hess did for Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way”  and challenged him to design the costumes for my project. Bart’s art centers around transforming human body. People often don’t realize that a lot of his work exists only virtually, the rest is simply not wearable. Bart is not a fashion designer, but he took on the challenge and the results are impressive. For music I wanted to find something progressive that would sound ancient at the same time. NOISIA composed exactly that. They are true mavericks of the electronic music.

Are you a Feminist? Is your Aurora?

I’m a Feminist, but I don’t stop there. Western culture has shaped limiting concepts of gender and sexuality. In my work I have no understanding of genders. I’m only interested in the human nature and promoting gender non-conformity. Of course, gendered economic empowerment is necessary, the role of it today is undeniable.  But in order to be able to undermine patriarchal definitions, feminists must step beyond the gender binary and not remain inside the patriarchal logos and its definitions of “womanhood.” My female protagonist has features that in patriarchal terms could easily be labeled as “masculine” and her action are not common among canonical fairy tale princesses. In that sense, she must be a Feminist.

How do you like working in Miami? What can we improve?

Miami is the city that has been transformed by art. When I first came to Miami 10 years ago it was a tourist destination.  I’m fascinated by the speed the city transforms itself. However, Miami should focus more on developing world-class talent.

Your three favorite places in Miami and why?

Ironside, because of its perfect European feel and my office.

Dolci Di Sicilia, because they have the best Italian coffee and cannoli in town.

PAMM, because I’m a big fan of Herzog & de Meuron.

Diana Vishneva Ren Khass Sleeping Beauty Dreams
Diana Vishneva in Sleeping Beauty Dreams Photo © Tomas Lowy
If you go
WHAT: “Sleeping Beauty Dreams” a contemporary art exploration of the age-old fable, features celebrated prima ballerina Diana Vishneva performing as Princess Aurora and Marcelo Gomes as Prince Peter in a fusion of dance, music, art, and revolutionary 3D digital technology never seen on stage before.
WHEN: Friday, December 07, 2018 8:00 PM and Saturday, December 07, 2018 8:00 PM
WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center/ Ziff Ballet Opera House : 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL
INFO: Tickets start at $43 Call 305.949.6722 or visit Adrienne Arscht Center
Program repeats December 14 and 15 at the Beacon Theatre in New York, NY.
Ekaterina Juskowski
Ekaterina Juskowski

Founder and executive editor of #MIAMIGIRL

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