Q&A with Edwaard Liang, BalletMet’s new artistic director

By Columbus Alive
From the July 4, 2013 edition

Edwaard Liang has worked in the ballet industry since he was 13, choreographing and danc in companies all over the world. He plans to use every bit of his 25 years of experience as the new rtistic irector for BalletMet make the company the best it can possibly be.

Liang has some very interesting collaborations—including his favorite musicians Martha and Rufus Wainwrightand projects in mind for BalletMet’s future. He feels the best part about his opportunity with BalletMet is to be a part of a community.

I’ve choreographed a number of ballets over the last 10 years, but I wanted to be a part of something. When you travel like I have, you’re a consultant. You don’t really see the fruits of your labor. You gain a catalog of ballets and now I [have] a home for that catalog. I can nurture dancer’s careers. I can use all the connections I’ve built for 25 years and have it mean something. Not just be a consultant.

I wanted to find someplace that has the possibilities and wants the growth. Columbus is such a fast-growing city and there’s so many different organizations that I’m really excited about collaborating with — The Wexner Center for the Arts, ProMusica, the Columbus Symphony. I also wanted to be a smart business and chose somewhere with potential for growth, for not only the company but for myself. This was the perfect place and I just fell in love with it when I interviewed here.

I think being artistic director is a balancing act. I would like to continue the 35 years of tradition and what this company has done. At the same time, I think every artistic director has their own taste value. I love the opportunity to show Columbus and its audience different ballets from around the world that maybe they haven’t seen. I have a relationship with so many different choreographers that ordinarily a medium-sized company wouldn’t be able to work with. That’s so exciting. And at the same time I get to choreograph these dancers and show the community what we’re able to do together.

What’s really exciting is to be one of the voices in the community. It’s really powerful and I take it very seriously. When you feel heard and your voice represents something you feel really grateful for that. It feels like everything that I’ve done in my career as a dancer and a choreographer has brought me to this. I’m able to implement all the different things I’ve learned into this organization.

BalletMet knows how important it is for me to choreograph for other companies. Everywhere I choreograph is spreading the word about BalletMet. It’s important in terms of the identity of the company and the artistic director. I used to take about 30 trips a year. Now it’ll be narrowed down to about three or four because my first priority is this company. For the future, I’m hoping to take the company to Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London [and] Ballet Across America at the Kennedy Center. I’d like to take the company to the Edinburgh Festival and establish a relationship with producers in Los Angeles so we can go to the Disney Center and things like that.

I’m hyper ambitious for this company. We’re a medium-sized company, but I feel it has the ability to foster a jewel of a boutique company with 25 amazing dancers that are all unique. I hope to create a buzz not only in Columbus, but the dance world internationally.

Photo by Will Shilling