Ballet AZ Blog

Behind-The-Scenes of Abrazo with Nayon Iovino

From choreography to music and costumes, Ballet Arizona Dancer, Nayon Iovino, talks about his new ballet, Abrazo, premiering this weekend!

Nayon Iovino and Ballet Arizona company dancers in rehearsal for "Abrazo."
Nayon Iovino and Ballet Arizona company dancers in rehearsal for “Abrazo.”

Like all of your works, Abrazo is a very dynamic. What was your inspiration behind the piece?

The inspiration came from the music. I have been interested in the sound of the accordion and it served as a foundation for this piece.

Let’s talk music! Abrazo by Vincent Peirani & Emile Parisien is very jazzy and quite different to the music of your past works. What drove you to choose this piece?

The music has a very unique sound. I always like when pieces have a sense of flow and storytelling. This album by Vincent Peirani & Emile Parisien has everything. Besides a few days when ideas did not want to come out, it’s been fairly smooth choreographing to it. The music is very clear.

Click here for a musical sneak peek!

Obviously the arts, including dance, are going through an extraordinarily difficult time right now with COVID 19. What has it been like to choreograph during this time?

I had to adapt to Ballet Arizona’s safety protocols and keep the dancers from touching each other. That was a very different experience for me, since I always choreograph a lot of partnering.

Speaking of choreographing, can you talk a little about your process and how you collaborate with the dancers?

I think the more experienced I have become, the more I enjoy collaborating with the dancers and receiving input on the movement and execution of the piece. I want it to mean just as much to the person dancing, as it does to me.

In a majority of your past works, your wife and fellow company dancer, Jillian Barrell, has been a part of your creative process and performed in your pieces. As you two are about to become parents, what has it been like to not have her in the studio?

It’s different, she is such a great help at the studios because she hears the evolution of my ideas about the piece and will often help clarify things to the entire group. Of course, I miss seeing her beautiful dancing!

As a choreographer, you have a vision for every aspect of a work, including costumes! Can you talk about where costumes come in the choreographic process for you?

The costumes are always the last piece of the puzzle for me. First I talk about the idea and inspiration of the piece. Then I’ll pick some colors with Leonor, our costume designer, and we will look at some photos or drawings of design ideas and patterns a few days later. She also comes by the studio during that process, to see the movement and the feel of the piece. For Abrazo, the costumes are very simple but classy and well built. They look very comfortable to dance in!

Click here for a sneak peek of the costumes!

Why are new works important and what purpose do they have for a company and the art form as a whole?

In dance, new works are an intellectual pursuit. The endless possibility of discovering new movement patterns and finding different ways to present them to an audience is extremely important. Creating these experiences that reflect our ever-evolving world and representing it through dance and music is very powerful and inspiring. It may convey what words cannot but only what movement and sound can together.
Read Men in Ballet: A Q&A with Ballet Arizona Dancers

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