Ballet News

Behind the Ballet: An Interview with Daniel Ojeda

Behind the Ballet: An Interview with Daniel Ojeda

With the Fleetwood Mac Collection just around the corner, our Marketing Assistant, Alanna Love, sat down with Choreographer and Company Dancer, Daniel Ojeda, to get a sneak peek at what this groundbreaking ballet will be like and some of the core ideas woven throughout the music and the movement.

When did you first discover the music of Fleetwood Mac?

I was five years old I think, and I was sitting in my dad’s car. I remember we were driving down Cross Bay Boulevard and “Dreams” came on the radio. I’ve always associated this particular song with a large portion of my childhood.

Many of the songs you are drawing from for this ballet are either from the Rumours album or the Tusk album. How do the two compare and contrast?

They are certainly contrasted as albums as far as songwriting is concerned. With Rumours there was more of a band effort, while Tusk was predominantly spearheaded by Lindsey Buckingham.
Lindsey Buckingham spoke a lot about the difference in approach to Tusk, and how Fleetwood Mac didn’t want to replicate Rumours. They wanted to start taking risks as far as songwriting style was concerned, so a lot of the song arrangements are more experimental and sparser than they were in Rumours. There’s less of a band effort, especially as far as harmonies are concerned. There were a ton of harmonies all over Rumours, whereas Tusk seems to be the effort of three distinct songwriting voices.
While both albums are about romantic fallout, Rumours approaches it from a very pop-y and hopeful place, while Tusk is moving more into grief, and even insanity. Their music goes from tracks like “Go Your Own Way,” which were hopeful and optimistic, to tracks like “What Makes You Thing You’re the One,” where instead of smiling and waving goodbye at your ex-partner, you are screaming at them.

What are the core themes of this ballet?

The themes in the ballet match the themes in the music, and the themes in the ballet especially match the history of the band.
There was a lot of sex and a lot of drugs involved in the band’s history. There’s no outward expression of either of those things in the ballet, but there is a hedonistic undertone and sexual tension between all of the dancers that are on stage.
The ballet is about an entity that has to work together to achieve an artistic endeavor. A lot of art inherently is a reflection of yourself in order to relate to other people. As a result it’s unfortunately very difficult to find the line between what drives you creatively and what fuels you relationally and romantically in your everyday life, without there being too much bleed between the two. If there is too much bleed, things go wrong and relationships crumble. The ballet is about what happens next. How do you redefine your relationship with someone when the romance crumbles and you still have to be a part of this artistic group?

Would you say that the ballet is loosely biographical of the band members of Fleetwood Mac?

It is very loosely biographical. I would say certain dancers represent certain band members, but then there are dancers that also represent specific aspects of those same band members. For example, Madeline Bay is inspired by Stevie Nicks, while Anissa Bailis represents the Rhiannon character.
Stevie Nicks used to dress up as Rhiannon for certain shows – it was a persona that she would put forth on stage. It’s interesting to see two dancers representing two sides of one person.
The same with Justin Hughes – it just works out that he is a massive guy, as is Mick Fleetwood. We even used to call Justin “Big Daddy,” and during Fleetwood Mac’s recording process, everyone would refer to Mick Fleetwood as “Big Daddy.”
John Frazer is indicative of the Lindsey Buckingham character. John and Christine McVie, whose eight-year marriage ended shortly before recording Rumours, are loosely represented by Shane Horan and Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin.
So yes, it is definitely, 100% inspired by the relationships in the band, but I don’t want it to be seen as a concrete representation of them as people.

Consistently you have described this production as being a “self-aware” piece – what does that mean?

In most of my productions I like there to be at least a shred of self-awareness and a breaking of the fourth wall. I like to suggest that a lot of the ballets I create actually exist in the same universe, and there are often times where I allude to previous ballets I have created.
With this production, there is much more of a self-awareness than I normally use, in that it is a production about a production – the dancers on stage are representative of dancers on stage. They are not ideas or snowflakes… simply human beings. Human beings almost trapped in this production. There is a moment in the ballet where that sensation of being trapped comes full frontal. And at the end… I’m not actually going to tell you about the end.

What is a favorite moment in this ballet?

One is “Tusk” – it’s the funnest song to choreograph to. Fleetwood Mac actually recorded it with a marching band in a baseball stadium. The track is so out there, and so I want the dance to be out there with it. The dancers are going to represent this deranged marching band that spends way too much time with one another – the dancers will have been on stage together for about 25 grueling minutes at that point.

What do you want your audience members to walk away thinking or feeling?

I want to keep the shoes empty so the audience can put themselves in it. I want to challenge myself and the audience to ask the question, “where is the line between art and reality?” I want them to not know what is part of the performance and what is part of the reality of the dancers. I want them to wonder where the bleed begins and ends.

Buy tickets for the Fleetwood Mac Collection here.