An independent dancer and choreographer, Antonio Ruz has been a standout on Spain’s dance scene for many years. His approach, which has evolved as the director of his own company, founded in 2009, and through interesting collaborations with acclaimed national and international groups, such as German dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests, is based on a pronounced interest in dance in its most open form. This interest is the result of extensive training as well as the development of his own creative discourse, within the framework of modern dance, but also Spanish dance and flamenco, and the place where the two intersect.
Antonio Ruz was born in 1976 in Córdoba, where he studied flamenco, Spanish dance and classical ballet. He moved to Madrid in 1992 with a scholarship to study at Víctor Ullate’s Dance Academy, and two years later he joined Víctor Ullate Ballet, where he went on to become the principal dancer and perform classical and neoclassical pieces. He joined the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in 2001, and later the Opéra de Lyon Ballet. In 2006, Ruz returned to Spain to work with the Spanish National Dance Company, directed by Nacho Duato. His extensive experience with some of the most prestigious companies both in and outside of Spain started to shape his eclectic performace style, which helped define Ruz as a dancer and forms part of his expansive artistic repertoire.
While working with companies outside Spain, which was an extremely enriching professional experience, Ruz began to experiment with creation. His first two pieces, 1Calvario and Cebolla nf ognion n, were featured at the Young Ballet Choreographers’ event at the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève Opera House. During that same period, he created and performed Heidi together with Bruno Cezario, which premiered in Río de Janeiro (Brazil), and he alone created Pilampo, which premiered and was performed by Sora Lee at the Gala of the Stars Korea Dancers 05
Collaborations, with other artists and also with other disciplines, are a central component of his choreographic approach. They respond to his interest in the most heterogeneous aspect of dance and are the result of a prolific way of understanding movement, beyond disciplinary labels. Since 2007, Ruz has developed a unique creative relationship with the dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests, based in Berlin, participating as a dancer and choreographer in several productions and as a choreographer’s assistant on Sacre (2014) and Orfeo (2014), on various projects by Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, and on UN/RUHE (2016) with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie. Ruz has been collaborating as a guest choreographer and dancer with the dance company Estévez/Paños Y Compañía since 2007, with which he also created the piece Danza 220V (2010). He created Ostinato (2008) for LaMov Compañía de Danza (Zaragoza), Ojalá (2011) and Manipula (2014) for the Granada Dance Conservatory’s FEX Workshops, and Ballhaus (2015) for the Fundación Psico Ballet Maite León-Fritsch Company. He participated as a choreographer on plays such as Capitalismo, hazles reír (2013) and Los Mácbez (2014), directed by Andrés Lima, and Antígona (2015), directed by Miguel del Arco. “The challenge I face with every project is to strengthen the human side of dancers and reveal their true personality. Technique and virtuosity mean nothing if there is no underlying message,” he says.
For personal and artistic reasons, Ruz founded his own dance company in Madrid in 2009; it has performed in Europe, Africa and South America. As its director, he has continued to create, developing his eclectic approach while at the same time expanding on his unique relationship with music, which is often performed live and is always given pride of place along with movement, the identity of the focus of his recent pieces. Examples include Ignoto (2011), which received the Best Performance Award at the Burgos-New York International Choreography Competition in 2011; Libera Me! (2012), with the German choir ensemble Vocalconsort Berlin; Vaivén (2014), together with Juan Kruz Díaz de Garaio Esnaola; À L’espagnole, a scenic fantasy (2015), with the Baroque ensemble Accademia del Piacere (Fahmi Alqhai), which received the PAD Best Choreography Award (Andalusian Professional Dance Association) and the Gema Award for the Most Innovative Performance in 2015 (Association of Spanish Early Music Groups); Recreo.02 (2015), the inaugural show for Madrid’s new German School; Beautiful Beach (2015), and the recent Double Bach (2016), together with musician and composer Pablo M. Caminero and acclaimed ballerina Tamako Akiyama. Other productions from his company include No Drama (2010) and Ojo (2012), a co-production with the Festival de Otoño en Primavera and Sasha Waltz & Guests and which received the PAD Best Choreography Award from the Andalusian Professional Dance Association. He recently premiered the piece Electra (2018) as a director and choreographer for Ballet Nacional de España (director: Antonio Najarro) at Teatro de la Zarzuela Madrid. L’OBC balla Ravel (2019), the zarzuela El Barberillo de Lavapiés (2019) and Transmutación (2019) are among his latests commissioned pieces.
Antonio Ruz premiered Gugurumbé, las raíces negras (2020), his new co-production with Accademia del Piacere (Fahmi Alqhai), at the Festival de Granada. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his company, he shot his first dance feature: AÚN (2020). His show show Signos, a collaboration with violist Isabel Villanueva, made its debut at the Teatro Central de Sevilla last February. After choreographing 30 dancers, including actress María Pedraza, for Jota Linares’ film Las niñas de cristal (Netflix), he recently returned to the Compañía Nacional de Danza, this time as choreographer, in his first stint as the director of a commissioned piece: In Paradisum (2021), which will have its worldwide premiere at Teatros del Canal. Ruz recently directed the unreleased ballet La Noche de San Juan (2021), a production of the Fundación Juan March and the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona, premiere at the Fundación Juan March (Madrid).
Ruz has received several distinctions and accolades, among them the recent Spanish National Dance Award 2018 in the Category of Creation and Ojo Crítico Dance Award 2013 by RTVE (Spanish Radio & TV).