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News: De Nada Dance Theatre - Mariposa: Premiere and Tour Announced

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Mariposa: Premiere and Tour Announced

Media release: 7 September 2021 – Following the success of Ham and Passion and Toro: Beauty and the Bull, Spanish-born choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra and his DeNada Dance Theatre return to UK theatres in 2021 with Pons Guerra’s latest dance theatre work, Mariposa, a queer tragedy inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.


Mariposa (‘butterfly’ in Spanish) debuts this autumn, with its world premiere at DanceXchange, Birmingham (30 September and 1 October), presented as part of Birmingham International Dance Festival, followed by performances at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds (12 October) and The Lowry, Salford Quays (16 January). Further performances will be scheduled for 2022.


In Pons Guerra’s dance reimagining of Puccini’s seminal opera, action takes place in a Caribbean port. Under flickering neon lights a local rent boy and a foreign sailor fall ominously in love in this queer take on the Madame Butterfly classic, which is immersed in the mist of a Havana’s smoke; a cigar cloud in which a young man is asked to sacrifice his gender in exchange of love and a better life.



Mariposa transports Puccini’s Orientalist libretto to the turbulent socio-political repression of post-revolution Cuba, to a dockland world of faded showgirls, hopeful rent boys, troubled sailors, and santeria (voodoo-like) spirits.  Engulfed in a tropical storm of repressed desires, this brand-new production is an exploration of what we are ready to sacrifice in order to be loved and accepted.


This dance opera is set to an original score by three-time winner of the Spanish MAX Awards for the Performing Arts, Luis Miguel Cobo (credits include Arakala Danza, Iván Perez, Marcos Morau, Carte Blanche, Wiener Staatsballett), which takes its inspiration from Caribbean sounds as well as Puccini, with libretto by French-Indian writer Karthika Nair (whose feminist, poetic adaptation of the Mahabharata, Until the Lions, was adapted to dance by Akram Kahn). Costume and set designs  are by Ryan Dawson Laight (who recently designed Blak Whyte Gray for the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue Entertainment), whilst long-time collaborator Barnaby Booth will design lighting.


A diverse and intergenerational cast take this passionate new production to the stage. Amongst them, Leonora Stapleton, original cast and Associate Choreographer of both The Lion King and Tarzan on Broadway, as well as a dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, takes the role of Gertrudis, the dockland brothel owner. Harry Alexander, winner of the UK Critics Circle National Dance Awards in the category of Best Emerging Artist (2017), a dancer with Michael Clarke Company and Julie Cunningham amongst others, performs the title role of Mariposa. Preston, his sailor, will be danced by Stan West, who recently toured with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and performed in Marianne Elliot’s Olivier and Tony Award-winning production of Angels in America for the National Theatre. Corey Annand, who created the title role in Arthur Pita’s The Little Match Girl and played the baby penguin in Paul McEneaney and Pons Guerra’s Penguins, also joins the cast as Kate, Preston’s wife, as does Michael Marquez, former dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre, as the Orisha deity.


Mariposa has been commissioned by Birmingham Dance Hub and Spin Arts, with further support from DanceXchange and the British Council. The creation and tour of Mariposa is also funded by Arts Council England.


Pons Guerra, nicknamed “the Pedro Almodóvar of Dance” by the BBC and who has recently premiered his new family work about transgender childhood, The Bull and the Moon, has also created work for companies such as Ballet Hispanico of New York, Nashville Ballet, Rambert, Sadler’s Wells, Northern Ballet, the National Dominican Ballet, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Cahoots Northern Ireland, amongst others. In 2016 DeNada Dance Theatre received a UK Critic’s Circle National Dance Awards nomination in the category of Best Independent Company, and in May 2018 Pons Guerra featured in Prejudice and Passion, a BBC Four documentary that portrayed his journey as an emerging independent choreographer creating LGBTQ work. A young choreographer that has quickly stepped into the international scene, Mariposa follows years of on-site research into the queer and transgender sex worker community of Cuba and the Dominican Republic.




DeNada Dance Theatre MARIPOSA UK performances in Autumn 2021/ Winter 2022


Thursday 30 & Oct 1 at 8pm (WORLD PREMIERE 

DanceXchange, BIRMINGHAM
Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome

Tickets: 0844 338 5000 /  https://bidf.co.uk/shows/denada-dance-theatre-mariposa/

Part of Birmingham International Dance Festival


Tuesday 12 Oct at 7.30pm-

Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, LEEDS

Tickets: 0113 220 8008 / www.theatreleeds.com


Sunday 16 January at 8pm-


Tickets: 0843 208 6000 / www.thelowry.com 

(Tickets on sale soon)


Running time: Approx. 90 minutes (including interval)

Age guidance: 12+ due to content of a sexual nature

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