Choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano (1978) comes from San Fulgencio, a small village on Spain’s Costa Blanca. “When I was young it had a population of about 2500 and not even a theatre.” His mother, father, brothers, cousins: they all played an instrument, but just the thought of learning to read musical notation was enough to put young Gustavo off. On the other hand, at the age of four or five he simply loved the local playback show that was organised by his mother – and for which she regularly made children’s dances: “I watched her and thought: that’s what I want to do when I’m big. In fact, it felt like the only possible path I could take.”
Love and passion
Thanks to local connections, Ramírez Sansano started attending the Academia de Danza Joseta Almoradí, an amateur dance school in nearby Almoradí where he got acquainted with various dance styles. “I was just so happy! Joseta was my great example, a fantastic woman who always produced wonderful shows with a wealth of costumes. She really taught me the love and passion for dance and performance.” It was with her encouragement that he regularly took official dance exams at the conservatory in Alicante. Then at the age of fifteen he transitioned to the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona, where – as he says himself – he first began taking his classical ballet training really seriously. And although at that time in Spain it certainly wasn’t usual for a boy to study ballet, Ramírez Sansano always had the full support of those around him. “My grandfather even sold some pieces of land to enable me to continue my dance studies.”
Ramírez Sansano began his dance career at the Víctor Ullate Ballet in Madrid, but after just a few months he already knew he didn’t want to “constantly be dancing classics like Don Quixote”. And so he relocated to the Netherlands, where from 1998 to 2001 he was a member of NDT 2, the junior group of Nederland Dans Theater. “I just loved the Netherlands. The audiences were so open-minded, and every week I saw a production by companies like Introdans, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Galili Dance or by freelance choreographer at venues such as Korzo in The Hague.”
During his dance education in Spain, Ramírez Sansano had already regularly been making his own creations and at NDT 2 too he made various works for the annual choreography workshop there. One of these won the Prix Dom Perignon at the international choreography competition in Hamburg. After dancing at NDT 2 for three years Ramírez Sansano, then moved to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (at that time under the leadership of former NDT dancer James Vincent). But after a year he took the plunge: he said goodbye to his dance career because “I felt I needed to choose choreography”.
From 2009 to 2013, Ramírez Sansano was artistic director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. His work for this company, which focussed on Latino culture, led to him being hailed as ‘Chicagoan of the Year in Arts and Entertainment’ in 2012. Parallel to this, back in 2006 he and Véronica García Moscardó had set up their own production group in Spain: TITOYAYA DANSA, which still exists today. The name derives from the pet names for his maternal grandparents, because “it was on their patio that I took my first dance steps.”
Today, Ramírez Sansano is the holder of various awards and has created works for many top international dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispánico, BalletMet, Atlanta Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance in the United States, Ballet BC in Canada, Scottish Dance Theater, Norrdans in Sweden, Hamburg Ballett, Tanz Theater München, Luzerner Theater, Compañia Nacional de Danza and IT Dansa in Spain, and Nederlands Dans Theater. In addition his own ensemble, TITOYAYA, also enables him to make productions for special target groups where he – just like Introdans – champions more diversity and inclusivity.
Choreographies by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano in the Introdans repertoire: