Dancing around the world with Shlomi Shlomo Miara
Shlomi is a creative dancer born in Israel whose career in dance began unexpectedly. After his education in L&L Goodman Bat-Door, Kamea Dance Company and Israel Ballet he took the risk to travel to Zurich and dance in the Junior Zurich Ballet of Switzerland without knowing the language. In 2018 he joined the CND, where he has danced various pieces such as Pulcinella, Carmen, Giselle, Remansos, In Paradisum and one of the newest, Arriaga, where he performs an extraordinary solo.
You were born in Beer Sheva, Israel, where you began to dance at L&L Goodman Bat-Dor. How do you remember the beginning of your career?
Actually it was a bit of a surprise, because I didn’t mean to become a dancer. I would dance as a kid at home, but never showed any interest to perform professionally. At the time I used to do judo, and one day my father realised it wasn’t for me so he took me to dance lessons. I wasn’t sure about it, and of course, I didn’t expect it. In the beginning it was a bit weird because of the pressure about being the only boy in the ballet class, it was stressful, and I was only 10. So I took my first class and the rest is history. My father was the one pushing me, and now that I think about it’s amazing, and I’m glad that he did.
In 2015 you joined the Junior Zurich Ballet of Switzerland under the directorship of Christian Spuck. How did you experienced such a radical change? Different country, different Company, different culture…
One of my goals was to travel abroad from Israel… I knew that what I wanted to achieve I wouldn’t get it in my country. I didn’t really know what I was going for, I couldn’t even imagine how would it be like and I also didn’t know how it felt to work in a big company. Besides, I didn’t even know how to speak in English, so everything was new. It was interesting to find myself connecting with other people without any language skills and trying to explain myself. It was a good experience.
You were awarded with the first prize at the MIA Arbatova Ballet Competition. How did you take such a recognition?
The MIA Arbatova is a small competition in Israel. If I have to be honest I was really surprised when I won it because in my year there were really talented dancers. I never really thought that there was something special about me, even when I got the contract in Zurich. I never thought that I had something interesting to offer, and I was mentally preparing myself to get the bad news so when I won it caught me off guard. I wasn’t focused on winning, but looking after myself and getting to know the type of dancer I was.
Have you ever had doubts about becoming a professional dancer?
The whole process was harder than I thought, because when I began my education in Israel, the school I went to wasn’t really academic or focused into the professionalization of dancers. I used to work really hard, but it never occurred to me that there would be other factors away from the dancing itself. You could be an amazing dancer, but there might be issues… being short, which is my case, that they will determine your career. Many times they’ve told me that they liked me but my height didn’t meet the requirements they were looking for. That was really painful for me. If my dancing wasn’t good enough I’d be okay with it, because I could work harder, but if the problem is my height…
In the end some people actually believed in me, and I feel really lucky because I’ve finally found my place. I got opportunities, and I keep working. I feel very grateful for what I’ve got because there are many others who couldn’t get it.
What does it mean to join a national company at such a young age?
Well I’m not that young (laughs). I was really curious about this company, because it’s a great mix between an amazing life at work and your private life outside. It’s really easy to forget and lose yourself in this kind of industry. For me it’s really important to find a balance between my normal life and dance. And I also feel that whenever I find this balance I do dance much better and that I’ve got a lot more to offer. It’s necessary to learn to appreciate it because in the end this job is really hard and intense.
Which would be a piece that you’d like to dance?
In the middle, by Forsythe. I grew up watching his pieces. Even as a kid, when I didn’t understand anything about dance, I remember watching it and being completely astound by it. That piece is the one that introduced me to Forsythe’s work.
In Arriaga, by Aguiló, Alosa and your director, Joaquín De Luz, you dance a popping solo along with Iker Rodríguez. This dance style is built by the spams and contractions of the muscles. How does it feel like to dance a solo on the stage? How do you combine the classic and contemporary styles in this piece?
The reason why I was so happy to do this piece, apart from working with Mar Aguiló, was because I’m a dancer who is in between. I really love ballet and I really like modern as well. When I was a kid I was really influenced by Bat-Sheva and Gaga. When I dance I don’t even plan or think about it, it just grows inside my body… so is like a mix of both styles. I think Mar is one of the first persons who saw it, and she actually gave me the opportunity to explore more deeply into it. Many times when we are creating pieces, people are looking for a very define style, it’s either classic or modern. Arriaga was really fun because when I went on stage I wasn’t that nervous, as most of the choreography was improvisation, so every night the show was different. It was very fun.
The moment of the show has to be really special. How is that energy like in the backstage?
Because of the covid it’s been so long since I went to see a live show that I‘ve forgotten what it feels like to be on the other side of the stage. The environment on the backstage it feels so normal to me. There is something special about this company, which is that people take the dance shows as a fun thing, and it doesn’t feel like death or life. There’s also a lot of support, which helps me a lot because I’m a really nervous person; it brings me a lot of peace and helps me improve.
You are also a very creative person. We know that you develop your own set designs taking into account both music and lighting. Tell me, do you think that someone can express their own self through the language of dance? own self through the language of dance? Would you like to become a choreographer in the future?
To be honest is a question I’m asking myself these days. I was never curious about creating a piece, or figuring out how I can take my steps and teach other people, until recently. It’s been in the last months, that I started to be really curious about it… I ask myself: “how I can take my style and build something for someone other than myself”. The challenge is how you can create something that becomes a language that you can teach other people. Is something that I’m figuring out at the moment, so I don’t have a clear answer for it. I’m just experimenting.
And for your birthday, is there any typical Israeli dish or dessert that you are going to cook?
It’s a good question… I’m a big fan of Shakshuka (poached egg in tomato sauce with spices) and hummus (chickpea spread), and I could eat both of them every day for the rest of my life…(laughs) I haven’t thought about anything special really, I love food so anything would be nice.
SHLOMI SHLOMO MIARA – CORPS DE BALLET
Interview by Sandra Cadenas