Maëva Berthelot is a dancer with the Hofesh Shechter Company, who will be staging the first public performance in our new home next week. Here she talks about her background, what motivates her work, and last but not least, her DJ set on the first night of Hofesh Shechter’s three-night run…
HOME: How did you get into the world of professional dance, and how long have you been performing with the company?
MB: I guess I got into the world of professional dance by training hard for several years. It’s like any job in some ways. Work, time, and motivation are the key. And I like to think that with this state of mind, you’ll get to achieve any of your goals. Regards the Hofesh Shechter company, I’ve been performing with them for five years.
HOME: How would you define Hofesh Shechter’s style?
MB: Defining his style, putting it in a box would be limiting the whole work. This work is very special because it is so rich. It holds it all. It is strong and fragile, fun and dark, tribal and graceful – I could keep on going endlessly with this list! Another special thing with Hofesh is that he’s not only a great choreographer, he’s also a brilliant musician who writes every single score of his productions.
HOME: You’re going to be performing in a brand-new venue. I know as a dancer you often perform in venues you don’t know well, but a new space… What particular challenges does that give you?
MB: As this new venue is not only a contemporary dance venue, I’d say maybe the expectations of the audience. We’ve been performing for so long for people who already know and love the work, and it might be different this time. That makes it very exciting!
HOME: I love your Twitter description – ‘Only those that risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go’. That’s very profound! Can you tell me more?
MB: I also think that it’s a beautiful and profound thought. But those are Hofesh’s words, not mine, so I wouldn’t allow myself to paraphrase it.
HOME: You’ll be DJing after your performance with the company on Thursday 30 April. What will you be playing, and will your set-list make any concessions to the fact you’re in a new space?
MB: I love music. All kinds of music. And I think if a track is good, it’s good no matter the style it belongs to. So I think my set will definitely reflect this. Something eclectic and massively groovy.
HOME: What music do you listen to at home? Is it true, in your experience, that DJs rarely listen to what they play except when they’re DJing?
MB: Like I just said, I like it all. As long as it touches me, excites me. So I really listen to any type of music at home. And to answer your last question, It does depend. I could personally listen at home to what I play on a set. But some of my mates who are famous for playing a certain type of music will of course listen to lots of other things at home. For example, it’s not because you’re a Garage DJ that you will only listen to garage. You know what I mean.
HOME: Hofesh’s style requires the dancers to find emotions in and through their movement. Have you any tricks which help you to get into the zone before a show?
MB: I definitely have tricks to get into the zone before a show. But what’s very interesting is that what works for me wouldn’t necessarily work for others. Lots of dancers in the company, for example, need to prepare by pumping, exciting and strengthening the body. Because I’ve naturally got a high level of energy and my muscles are strong and fast, I personally need to find the opposite: a relaxed and easy body. I need to unwind and slow down. For that, I usually take a long warm shower in order to soften and relax my muscles and I’ll then do some breathing, stretching and meditation exercises. If I feel that I’m about to fall asleep, it means I’m ready!
HOME: You’re also interested in photography and film. Do these other interests feed into your experience on stage as a dancer?
MB: No, not really. I’ve been a mover as long as I can remember so it’s actually the other way around. My experience as a dancer feeds into the way I take pictures and make films. I see an image, still or moving, as choreography. I guess for me, whatever I do, it will always be about movement, shapes, lines, colours (and soundtrack/music for film) that once put together create an emotional response.
HOME: What career would you choose if you weren’t a dancer?
MB: Aaah, that’s a good question. I love so many things in life, I’m such a curious person that my brain only feels excited when I send it constant information, knowledge, and when I constantly challenge it. I really love being in the creation process, whatever it means… Creating movement, taking pictures, making films, DJing, drawing, singing, painting my kitchen… Whatever. I really dislike limiting myself, putting myself in a box, and never getting out of it. So I guess, I’d love to be an artist who uses all kind of media to create and produce emotionally charged works (because I’m bloody emotional! Ha).
We’re excited – see you there?