With Peeping Tom’s immersive dance epic 32 rue Vandenbranden with us this week, we put one of the show’s dancers Jos Baker under the spotlight to learn more about his journey to the stage…
What is your earliest memory of the arts?
JB: The one that jumps into my mind first is actually an experience of going on stage for the first time. I was seven and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I remember this magical quality that theatres have and the fact that when you’re in there, anything can happen. I remember also that there were these blue side lights shining onto the stage and it felt like being underwater in a swimming pool. The air became more viscous by being under them and I felt like anything you do in that space had more significance and importance. From then on, the actual space of being on a stage and being in a theatre has always excited me. It’s just so alive with possibilities and potential. I was hooked.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book or piece of music would you take?
JB: One? That’s not fair. I’m going to go with a piece of music. I like music from loads of different genres but I think the one that I could listen to again and again and not get bored of would be the Goldberg variations from JS Bach. I could have gone with some rock ‘n’ roll or some hip-hop but that one I could listen to day-in-day-out and I would still find something new and beautiful inside it and something I hadn’t heard before,
What’s been your most difficult achievement?
JB: I don’t know if it’s the most difficult but just to keep learning every day. I like that every time I start working there’s just this wealth of knowledge that I still have to learn and that every day I get to practice my craft and work at it and learn new things. Also, the more I know about it the more I realise I don’t know – and I like keeping that sense of play and intrigue about the business that I’m in. The business of making dance and theatre and how to express ideas on a stage.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JB: Can I give you two? One was about whether or not you should pursue a career in dance or acting or any of those things and the advice is that you shouldn’t do it. There are two types of people: there are the types who listen to that advice and the type who are completely oblivious to that and say “I have to do this” and I think in order to be happy in a career like this you have to have a mindset where you are just completely fixated and determined and it doesn’t matter what people tell you – you’re going to do it anyway. The other one is from my dad who told me that the right decision is determined not by which choice you make but by what you do afterwards. How you follow that path determines whether or not that was the right decision. That’s something that I’ve always taken with me,
What’s been the biggest influence on your life and career and what lessons did it teach you?
JB: In terms of my career the only answer I can give is someone called Cecilia MacFarlane who I started dancing with when I was seven and continued dancing with until I was 18. She was an extremely inspirational teacher who instilled in me and many other young people from a really young age, the idea that you have a huge amount of creativity inside you and you have to keep on playing and finding new things. There’s no doubt that If i hadn’t met this woman I wouldn’t have ended up working in the field that I did.
When you’re not at work where are you most likely to be found?
JB: I would like to say up a mountain or in a forest or on a river. The nature of my work means a lot of travel and it means a lot of travelling from one city to the next which is really great but when I have some time off the first thing I’ll do is try and get out of the city and into some wilderness.
32 rue Vandenbranden runs from Mon 23 May – Wed 25 May. To find out more and book tickets, head here.