Alejandro Cerrudo, Charlotte Ballet’s New Artistic Director, Talks About His Vision for the Company

May 10, 2022

Each step along Alejandro Cerrudo’s 24-year career, he’s planted the seeds for his next area of growth in the dance field. Born in Madrid, he first became a dancer, then a choreographer and, most recently, the producer of his own dance projects. Now, the 41-year-old is taking his next step, as Charlotte Ballet’s new artistic director. On April 7, the company announced he would follow outgoing director Hope Muir, who recently left to take the helm of the National Ballet of Canada.

It will be Cerrudo’s first time leading a company. As a professional dancer, he performed with Victor Ullate Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. As a dancemaker, he has created over 25 works that have been performed by over 20 professional dance companies around the world. Cerrudo was Hubbard Street’s first-ever resident choreographer from 2008–18 and became Pacific Northwest Ballet’s first resident choreographer in 2020 (a position he will continue). Some of his other accolades include the 2012 Joyce Theater Foundationʼs Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, the Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work from the Prince Charitable Trusts (2012), and a 2014 USA Donnelley Fellowship.

Alejandro Cerrudo is shown from the chest up wearing a black button-down shirt and posing in front of a gray backdrop. He offers a closed-mouth smile to the camera.
Photo by Jeff Cravotta, courtesy Charlotte Ballet.

Cerrudo has already moved to Charlotte with his wife, former Hubbard Street dancer Ana Lopez and their daughter. We talked to him recently about taking this next phase of his dance career, and his plans for Charlotte Ballet.

Had you been actively looking for artistic director positions prior to applying for Charlotte Ballet?

Becoming an artistic director has been on my mind for a long time now. It is one of the reasons why I started choreographing for various dance companies and why I started creating and producing my own projects. I wanted to be on the other side of being a dance artist and manage a company.

Why Charlotte Ballet?

When I saw the opportunity to lead this company, it was too good to pass up. They check every box. They have an academy, a training program, a second company, a main company, beautiful studios and a black-box theater. I cannot wait to get to know everyone on a deeper level and to bring the company higher and higher.

What in your career helped prepare you for this role?

In my career as a dancer, being exposed to such a broad range of different styles, company sizes and visions has been the best preparation. Also, being a choreographer and working with dance companies, as well as being hands-on with my own projects, like It Starts Now, ultimately prepared me.

What is your vision for the company?

To deliver dance of the highest quality. To innovate and push the boundaries in classical ballet and contemporary dance, to bring dance to the most diverse audiences as possible and have a company of dancers and an organization that is the most diverse as possible.

What kind of repertory do you see the company performing?

Something really wonderful about Charlotte Ballet is its versatility and range of repertory, and I want to expand that. I am not looking to stop doing ballet and contemporary classics—I want to do it all. 

Alejandro Cerrudo, dressed in a purple T-shirt, black pants and white sneakers, lunges to the side on his left leg and reaching his right arm forward, both hands spread wide. He demonstrates the move on a darkened stage for dancers off-camera.
Alejandro Cerrudo during rehearsals for It Starts Now. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy Charlotte Ballet.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I have my ideas, but I am open to hearing from everyone, and want to hear from everyone and then make a decision. The environment we create in the studio will reflect in our performances and in our public image.

You have said you like dancers who are open-minded. What other qualities do you look for?

Versatility, not only in their physicality but in the way they think. The best dancer is one who is open to any type of process and receptive to positive criticism. That allows you to make progress in everything else when you are willing to grow.

How will taking this job affect your career as a choreographer?

My focus now is to be the artistic director of Charlotte Ballet. I applied for that job, not for the job of choreographer. We will possibly see my work in the company, but my priority is to be the best artistic director I can be.

Being a first-time artistic director, have you sought advice from other directors?

Yes, I’ve been talking to people I’ve always known. There are so many artists around the world that I danced with who are now artistic directors. It is an ongoing exchange with them.

What are your long-term goals for the company?

I would like to offer my dancers a 52-week contract.Then, if we can grow the number of dancers, that would be another goal.