How come you started doing ballet?
I started tap first. My brother and I used to like Jean Kelly when we were little. Our dad used to play the piano for a local dancing school, so we started doing tap when I was about six. Two years later the teacher, who thought us tap, said: “If you wanna be a proper dancer, you have to do ballet as well.” So I started ballet at eight and really enjoyed it.
That needs a lot of training, doesn't it?
Yeah, it is intensive. For me it felt like a sport. It is the same with other sports: You need to train hard all the time! And ballet for me was like that I didn't have a natural body for that sport, so I had to work for it really hard. But I enjoyed the challenge and I had good teachers, who inspired me.
What gave you the ideas for the choreography and the stage setting?
Because the story is quite colorful, I wanted the set to feel vibrant like that as well. I wanted the map of the world up, that we can follow the journey, that happens in the show. So we have arrows, that kind of flying into the show exactly where we are.
And then the designer and I came up with the idea of having pictures of all the different places. Because one of the hardest things about the show is following visual - that is gonna help the audience understanding, where we are. And the same thing with the costumes change: All the people, who appear in each place we go to, their costumes change in their own national dress. It helps visually to tell the story, I think.
I also wanted to feel like a kind of amphitheater, so you kind of looking down pit. So that’s why we have two stages. Some of the audience take place at the higher level and some of them take place in the pit on the actual floor. Looks a bit like a gladiator, you know, watching the victims. I like to use levels as well, because it just makes the stage more interesting. And I wanted different areas, so some scenes take place in the middle, others take place just on the stage and then others take place in the audience and all around.
Why did you decide to show an English play in Germany?
Well I didn't. We did this first in Munich. The director of the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich, where we did it, wanted to do ‘Candide’, because it's a great musical / operetta. We wanted to do the dialogues in German, so it's easier for the audience to understand the story. But we keep the songs in English, because the lyrics are quite famous and it sounds better in English. I think, the German people will enjoy it, you know, because of all the humor and to get emotionally involved as well. It's gonna be an entertaining evening.
Candide is a proper actor, so he plays always Candide?
No, we have got two singers: One has done it before, he did it with me in Munich. They both sing, but it enquires a lot of acting as well. So it's a very emotional character to get into. You have to kind of be a good actor as well as a singer. It's a good sort of role for that than just singing.
So all of the main characters are just singers or actors, who can sing?
No, they are singers, who can act.
Can you describe your way from a ballet dancer up to a director?
When I was in a ballet company, it was a limited career, because you are just doing ballet and I had no time to do anything else. When I was training, I was interested in acting, in music, in singing and other types of dance. I knew I wanted to go out and do other things. So when I left the ballet company, I started working with a contemporary choreographer called Mathew Bourne, who kind of allowed me to create some steps myself. I started doing musical theater as well and started choreographing musical theater, because I loved choreographing a lot! You see a vision of the whole piece. It is great, because you make all the decisions and get to fulfil your own visions, which is kind of cool.
How many plays have you been guiding so far?
I have done four in England: I did a Musical of modern ‘Cinderella’. I directed a dance show. I did ‘Hammerstein Show’ and ‘Candide. Also in Germany, Munich, I did ‘Gefährliche Liebschaften’, I codirected that with another director.
What is your favorite play you have ever seen or been to?
‘Westside Story’ is one of my favorites - I love the way how choreography told the story. Sometimes you go to musicals and they tell the story and it stops. You only have numbers and this just carries on. But with ‘Westside Story’ the choreography is part of telling the story - that is what I love about choreography! I try never to do a number. I always try to continue what we’ve been doing up to then.
What is your favorite place you have ever been to ?
I have been really lucky. I think the place I am going back to is Japan, Tokio - it´s brilliant! It is like nowhere else I have ever been. The people are incredibly generous, it is just a crazy atmosphere in Tokio with the kind of knights. The food is amazing and the reason I like it is, because I perform there quite a lot and the performance for dance particular is amazing: It is like you are a Rock Star! You do not get that in Europe. For work that is my favorite place to go to and I keep going back. I am going back next year. My other favorite place I went to is probably Egypt, just because the country and its history. That was a kind culture shock but it was a cool holiday.
Does travelling give you new inspiration for your next play?
Definitely! Wherever I’m going, I get inspiration from the culture, galleries or local arts or from people in their countries. I pick it, because as a director and actor I am always looking at new people and how they behave and react to other people and it is interesting. And you can take all of that back into your work.
Geführt von Viola Senftleben und David Ebke