Contributor Donald Hutera plays a version of Twenty Questions with dancer Aurèlie Cayla by email.
Donald Hutera: Where have you been on tour recently?
Aurèlie Cayla: The last tour was Paris (three performances). Before that we went to Switzerland for two weeks for the Steps Festival, where we performed in many cities (Zürich, Geneva, Bern, Zug, Baden).
DH: Are there any places to which you have toured that hold especially fond
memories for you?
AC: I loved dancing in Saitama Performing Arts Centre in Japan, maybe because it was my first tour with the company. But I enjoyed Japan so much. I loved Paris, too, because it is the town I am from, and so the shows were very special there. I liked also the atmosphere of Sadler’s Wells in London. And Edinburgh, because I wasn’t in the programme and was watching the show from the audience. And, it was the last show of that season!
DH: Why does the British public like NDT2 so much?
AC: I don’t know if the British people like us so much as you say. In London the public wasn’t so warm, but in small cities they seemed really enthusiastic. I don’t really know the kind of public that come to our shows, but maybe they are younger than in Holland, so a bit more open…
DH: Can you describe what it’s like to be ‘inside’ one of the dances you will perform on the UK tour?
AC: The theme of Subject to Change, by Paul Lightfoot and Sol León, is very special. The title is really the meaning of the piece. We know in our lives that some things are going to happen; we try to avoid them, or look forward to them, or we just don’t know how to deal with them because we never know when exactly they are going to come. Apart from the really technical and physical challenges of this piece, there is a lot of inside feelings bowling in my body when I dance it that make me think about the meaning of life a lot. And to experiment with this onstage is just such a beautiful thing. But sometimes I do feel shy to show it in front of so many people, who don’t know anything of my history. But the beauty of it is that each of us understands it as he or she feels, with his or her own past and stories.
DH: Why do so many dancers smoke? Do you smoke?
AC: I don’t know. I personally don’t.
DH: Do you think dance can be a force for social change? Why or why not?
AC: Social change is a bit too strong. Dance can change some personal feelings and emotions, but it’s different for each of us.
DH: When are you at your most stylish?
AC: When I manage to be myself!
DH: Name a choreographer you’d like to work with in the future.
AC: William Forsythe.
DH: Can you share one of your most embarrassing moments? Where did it happen? What happened?
AC: This is not the most embarrassing one, but sometimes after a performance, when people or choreographers thank you for what you did and you’re not satisfied, it can be embarrassing.
DH: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a dancer, and as a person?
AC: Strength = discipline. Weakness = physicality. As a person, weakness = emotional.
DH: Why did you start dancing, and what keeps you going? Have there been times when you felt like giving up?
AC: I started dancing because I felt like moving and wanted to use my body. It was more like a game. To be able to feel strong emotions on stage keeps me going, but it doesn’t happen every time. And the difficulties are high. Such questions as “What is the point of hurting yourself (physically and morally) if you don’t enjoy it all?” Yes, there have been times when I felt like giving up.
DH: Do you enjoy being looked at? Why or why not?
AC: Not when I know I’m being watched. It’s a bit embarrassing. (A show is different)
DH: What’s the most serious injury you’ve had?
AC: Moving of the ‘rotula’ bone in the knee. And ligaments fracture.
DH: How important is food to you, and what’s your favourite dish?
AC: As a dance student, teachers always speak to you about food. It becomes a big thing, and when I was 16 I had to deal with it. But now I’m totally fine and I really enjoy eating. I love smoked salmon on toast with crème fraiche.
DH: Name a.) a person, b.) a place, c.) an idea that inspires you, and for each say why.
AC: a.) firemen, for their courage in trying to save the lives of people they don’t even know.
b.) between the rocks in front of a windy sea
c) a meeting of all the elements; a feeling of being nothing.
DH: What makes you cry?
AC: Lot of different things!!
DH: Do you remember your first kiss?
DH: Do you have fans? How do they behave with you?
AC: Fans, I don’t know. But we do have people coming up at the end of the show for signatures and talks.
DH: Have you ever sung karaoke and, if so, what songs(s)?
AC: Yes, old French songs from the 60’s.
DH: Have you got a favourite film, either current or in the past?
AC: La Vita Bella by Roberto Benigni.
DH: What’s the ‘coolest’ thing you own?
AC: My smile.
Aurèlie Cayla was born in Boulogne, France. She trained at the Conservatorie National de Musique de Lyon (CNSM) in France. After her education she danced with Aalto Ballett Theater Essen in Germany. Aurèlie joined NDT2 in August 2002.