“Her Paintings Come to Life”: Choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa on Frida Kahlo-Inspired Ballet ‘Broken Wings’

Lead Photo: Photo by Laurent Liotardo. Courtesy of artist.
Photo by Laurent Liotardo. Courtesy of artist.
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The English National Ballet (ENB) is premiering its Wednesday Watch Parties with a Frida Kahlo-inspired production entitled “Broken Wings“. This marks the first time the full-length recordings of the company’s performances will premiere online. Over the next month, every Wednesday evening they’ll premiere a different production and it all kicks off with “Broken Wings” on Wednesday, April 22.

Colombian-Belgian artist Annabelle Lopez Ochoa choreographed “Broken Wings”. She also did the choreography for Frida, a production for the Dutch National Ballet in 2002.

“[Frida] managed to transform her pain into art and portray herself with no frills. Her work is unapologetic and straightforward,” Lopez Ochoa tells Remezcla. “I find that very inspiring. I think that in general women are often second-guessing themselves or insecure about whether their work is good enough. Frida didn’t care so much about this. She used her work to fight for the Mexican identity while portraying herself, a woman that endured much suffering physically, emotionally and psychologically.”

Kahlo was involved in a bus accident and suffered multiple fractures on her spine, collarbone and ribs along with a shattered pelvis which caused life-long pain. While recovering in a body cast, she began to focus on her painting and it was this time in her life that inspired the most powerful dance in the production according to Lopez Ochoa.

“I think the audience particularly enjoys the moment when Frida discovers painting when she is bedridden due to the accident she endured. Her portraits come to life in a dance of 11 male Fridas. I wanted to avoid the actual gesture of painting and therefore I have her paintings come to life.”

ENB Artistic Director and Lead Principal Tamara Rojo performs as Kahlo alongside legendary Soviet-born ballet dancer Irek Mukhamedov as iconic artist and husband to Kahlo, Diego Rivera. This performance of “Broken Wings” was recorded at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in 2016 and was part of the ENB’s first triple bill dedicated to female choreography entitled “She Persisted. The idea is in line with Rojo’s goal to highlight women’s work when she took on the role of artistic director.

“It was part of my vision before I got the job,” she told The Guardian of the project in 2015, which she’d been working on for four and a half years. “I really believe we need more women’s voices on the stage.”

The production will be available starting 7 pm BST (11 am PDT/2 pm EDT) on Facebook and YouTube and will remain online until Friday, April 24, 8 pm BST.

“Like it occurred with me when I saw the movie Frida with Salma Hayek 17 years ago, I hope the audience gets to know more about the person Frida Kahlo” Lopez Ochoa says. “And will, therefore, understand and appreciate her work more.”