Close-up: Javier de Frutos

The choreographer aims to do for dance what Tom Ford did for Gucci

"I wasn't particularly interested in being director of a company," says Venezuela-born Javier de Frutos, a disconcertingly short time after taking over the Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre. "As a choreographer," he explains, "I could have gone on working with different companies and pursuing theatre stuff..." (he choreographed the Donmar's revival of the musical Cabaret to great acclaim, and Carousel at Chichester). But then, doesn't being head-honcho at least give him control? Remembering last summer's calamitous Kismet at ENO (from which he resigned two weeks before opening night) soon brings him to his senses: "I got good reviews just for not being there."

What really interested the 44-year-old about taking on a company was rebranding it. "I'm a fashion queen, you see. I love all those stories, like Tom Ford comes to Gucci and suddenly it's the hottest thing on the planet. I'm naive enough to think I can do it too." And so it was that, last season, Phoenix toured the most talked-about programme in its 27-year-history. Alongside a rarely performed solo, Harmonica Breakdown, were two arresting new works by the director: the swooningly gorgeous Paseillo, and Les Noces, De Frutos's answer to Fight Club, which had some spectators protesting with their feet while others stayed to cheer.

The coming tour will include a mix of the above as well as two mid-century gems by the Mexican-American master José Limón. "The Moor's Pavane is like sniffing a great perfume," says De Frutos. "Its base-note stays with you a long time."

For full tour details go to www.phoenixdancetheatre.co.uk

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