As the countdown to the Malta Arts Festival begins, Jo Caruana takes a closer look at one special dance performance making its way over from the Netherlands.

In Hide and Seek the dancers are continuously confronted with changes around them. Photos: Robert BenschopIn Hide and Seek the dancers are continuously confronted with changes around them. Photos: Robert Benschop

This year, dance will certainly be given the platform it deserves at the Malta Arts Festival in July. There will be several productions and workshops combining the talents of local and international dance artists, and one of them will be Hide and Seek – a piece by award-winning Spanish choreographer Iván Pérez that was produced by Korzo and the Nederlands Dans Theater.

This is Pérez’s first full-length dance production, and it received rave reviews at its premiere. There is no doubt that Pérez is a dance powerhouse; he has already had a varied career and enjoyed numerous highlights.

“I think of my career as an on-going project,” he says, listing some of his many festival performances in Russia, Spain, Germany and France. “One key moment so far was the premiere of another of my works, Flesh, at the Nederlands Dans Theater in 2011. It was very special and meant a lot to me. Meanwhile, I am also looking forward to premiering the full-length production for Balletboyz at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in January 2015. I literally can’t wait.”

Festivals like this one are of great value for cultural development, and we need more of them

Hide and Seek is Pérez’s latest endeavour and he describes it as very atmospheric – drawing its audience into a trip where desires, frustrations, madness and tenderness are slowly revealed.

“Doors are being opened and closed,” he explains, excitedly talking me through his ideas behind the piece. “The dancers are continuously confronted with changes around them. Where do they find the key that opens the doors of life? I see this show as poetic game that not everyone will want to play.”

Hide And Seek was first inspired by Pérez’s reading of the book Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. “In his book Viktor talked about the psychology of the prisoner, the confrontation of death, the refuge in memory and the introspection of the self,” says the dancer. “I was fascinated by it and its human depth so I was keen to delve into it further.”

The piece’s underlining storyline follows a man and his alter ego who have found themselves in a confined space together – a place where threats come from both the outside world, and from within. As the tale develops, three women – who, Pérez says, could be real or a figment of the imagination – help the men to face each other.

“Hide And Seek is a process that starts and ends in the self,” the choreographer continues. “As a result, I think it will prove interesting to a wide audience. The drama­turgy is clear and sincere, and the humanity of this performance makes the show direct and honest. At the end of the day we are all human beings with a self, and we all search for enlightenment. It’s a subject we can all relate to.”

Pérez says he is thrilled to be part of this summer’s MAF, stressing that he feels it is an honour to be part of Malta’s cultural development. “Since its launch, the MAF has hosted some truly fantastic artists from all over Europe and it continues to work hard to promote the arts. We certainly appreciate that,” he says.

“Festivals like this one are of great value for cultural development, and we need more of them. They offer their audiences the chance to discover new artists from different parts of the world, and to exchange knowledge that will seamlessly feed back into Maltese culture too.”

Pérez is also thrilled to be performing at such a historic venue, St Elmo, and he believes it will be a very fitting setting for the piece. “It’s going to be very special,” he says. “The beauty and history of this incredible building will blend perfectly with the depth of Hide and Seek. We are planning to involve the space in the piece as much as possible and to really highlight its presence. I have no doubt that it will enhance the show in many ways, and that the combination will certainly evoke that wow factor that audiences will be hoping for.”

Hide and Seek will be performed at St Elmo on July 19 at 9pm as part of the Malta Arts Festival.


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