I always ask myself: If my parents hadn't been flamenco dancers, would I have danced? I certainly don't have a calling for dancing. As a child I was no Billy Elliot—that kind of boy that would do anything to dance. In fact, I was the Anti-Billy Elliot. My parents were always forcing me to dance, and I pushed back as much as I could. I thought dancing was boring.


So why, as an adult, do I continue to dance? I know it sounds odd, but I think I dance because I don't like to dance. It's not logical, but there is something freeing in accepting that. I literally cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't dance. I've danced since I've had consciousness. It's simply in my DNA. And you can't escape what you are.

I was always going to be a dancer, but my saving grace as an adult is that I don't feel any pressure. I feel total freedom when it comes to how I choose to dance. As long as people continue asking me to perform, I will, but it has to be on my terms.

When I perform in public, it's not so much the dance that I respect as much as the venue and stage and the people who come to watch me. I find that connection very special, even more so as time passes.

I love reading and film, but I am not a writer or a filmmaker. Dance is the tool I was given, so it's the tool I use to create art. I consider myself an artist more than a dancer, because the work that I create is inspired by more than just movement. Dance is just a means of transmission, that little bit of magic that was handed down to me and that I now use to create a world of my own within a profession that I never chose for myself.

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All photos by Jan Versweyveld, Courtesy DKC/O&M

What It Takes to Radically Reimagine "West Side Story"

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is celebrated across the dance world for her stripped-down, stubbornly abstract choreography; Ivo van Hove across the theater world for his stark, stubbornly tech-heavy reconstructions of plays and movie scripts. But after this week, the two Belgians are likely to be famed, for good or ill, as the pair who kicked Jerome Robbins out of West Side Story, the classic musical he conceived, directed and choreographed to everlasting acclaim in 1957.

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