Isabella DeVivo & John-Paul Simoens in an excerpt from Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings © Chris Hardy

Enter the colorful and creative world of Frida Kahlo with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s critically acclaimed Broken Wings. This mini masterpiece explores the life and art of the celebrated Mexican painter. An experience unto itself, it’s a unique opportunity to enter into the realms of the paintings themselves through the lens of Kahlo’s wildly creative spirit. In this interview, choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa Breaks Down Her Inspiration.

What motivated you to create a ballet about Frida Kahlo?

In 2015, I was invited by Tamara Rojo at English National Ballet to create a one act narrative work about a woman that’s damned and doomed. And the name Frida Kahlo was kept as a ghost in my mind… Tamara was very enthusiastic about it. And so I decided to make a piece about her.

What is it about her personality and her story that makes her an interesting character?

I was really inspired by her because I find it very admirable that she transformed her pain into art and that she was very direct and unapologetic about what she wanted to talk about and how she wanted to paint it. She was an artist, and yet she was an advocate of the rights of the Mexican people that were under the influence of the Spaniards . . . That’s what I like about her, and that’s what inspires me as a woman and as an artist. To accept yourself and your roots and to expose them and therefore start to love them more and make them more accepted by everybody.

Why was it important for you to include Diego when telling Frida’s story?

I don’t think you can talk about Frida without talking about Diego. He’s an integral part of her love life, but also her creativity. They were inspired by each other. They were obsessed with each other. They were too

close to each other and drove each other crazy. She said: “I had two accidents. One was with a trolley, the other one was meeting Diego Rivera.” So, for me, he had to be there.

How do you capture Frida’s artistry through the movement and the choreography?

I really felt I wanted one moment where you see the painting move, where the painting comes to life. So that’s when the idea came to have her self-portrait appear onstage. She made 55 self-portraits of the 143 paintings that she made in her life. She was a precursor of the selfie . . . she made herself the subject and the theme of her paintings.

What are you excited for our Bay Area audiences to get to see?

I’m excited for the San Francisco audiences to discover [this ballet], to remember who Frida was and what she stands for. And to maybe think, “Okay, let’s go look at an exhibit or that mural from Diego here in the city.” But mostly I’m excited because I’m a Latina woman giving something back to the Latin culture, and the Latin people of San Francisco who will feel represented in a ballet.

This article was provided courtesy of San Francisco Ballet

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