People with Passion
Who we interviewed: Maya Gomez
Maya's Passion: Contemporary Dance
The multilingual (speaks French, Spanish, Catalan, English and German) and free spirited dancer now living in Berlin tells us how travelling out of her comfort zone changed her life and how important is to keep fighting for what you love.
What makes your heart skip a beat?
I specialize in contemporary dance, but this specific dance has many sub-divisions. I look at it like a fan...when you open it up you'll find many different sections. There are lots of different techniques within the contemporary dance too. From all those techniques, I'd choose 5 which I consider my favorite. Each dancer has her/his own personal style within each technique. So many personal movements, some dancers may be working more on the floor, some on the dynamics - there are so many variations of expression.
I work as a freelance dancer, but I also teach. I know I'm most passionate when I feel my blood, muscles and bones floating in space.
If I had to choose one type of dance for the rest of my life, it would have to be contemporary dance - more specifically a style called Gaga which I absolutely love. Another contemporary dance style I love is called Release - it’s very physical, animalistic and much of it takes place on the floor. From the inspiration of both styles I love to create my own choreographed dance routines. That’s when I enter another world , another universe and get into an almost trance state of mind. Placing your body into open space and feeling the air in that space is what I call ‘Gustoso’ (meaning tasty / enjoyable).
Learn more about Gaga and Release Dance Styles:
When did you know that you're passionate about dance?
It all started when I was 4 in a small school in a village in Switzerland. My sister was already dancing so that inspired me and I of course wanted to dance too. She was dancing ballet so I started with that. I saw my sister wear a tutu, so I wanted one myself.
What's your story?
I was born in Switzerland (mom is Swiss and dad is Filipino). I speak Spanish because I lived most of my life in Spain. When I was 10 we moved to Spain, but before we moved there I insisted that we find a dance studio straight away, so my parents made it happen.
After a while I felt like the school wasn't challenging enough for me, so when I told my mom she started searching for another school and found the Conservatory Institut del Teatre in Barcelona. I started to train for the auditions and had to learn how to dance Flamenco, which I've never done before - I was always just dancing ballet.
At the conservatory, you’d spend the morning going to general classes and the afternoons would be dedicated to dancing. I started attending at the age of 13 and was there for 6 years. When I finished I auditioned for a small company called IT DANSA and stayed with them for 2 years. It was my first professional experience which was very valuable. The learning environment at school was very different to the one at the company. At school you’re generally just following what others are doing and what others tell you to do, however at the company it was a different story - you really need to develop your own identity... your own character, because that's the way you'll stand out from the crowd. There needs to be a lot of discipline, a lot of fighting for what you do and for your passion.
Maya's Bits & Pieces:
I moved to Berlin 2 years and I feel like I've changed quite a bit since I got here. When I was working at the company in Barcelona I was always thinking that others were better than me and I never really reflected on myself as much as I do now. When living in Barcelona I felt like I lived in my little made-up nest, but once I arrived to Berlin I started to finally see the real world.
I would describe myself as a perfectionist. I don’t think I’m the easiest person to handle, if I have an idea then nothing really stops me.
It was easier to move to Berlin, as I already had a friend here who studied at the same conservatory with me. He helped me find my first job, which was at a small company called ART CHANGE. This helped me settle down and get to know the dancing scene in Berlin. They gave me an opportunity to do a solo, which I was extremely happy about, and that's when I could finally express myself fully. I created the choreography and performed it.
So that was my first job in Berlin and then I did an audition for Sasha Waltz and I got the job - which was a 4 months project in Kalsruhe. It’s a dream come true for any dancer to be working with Sasha Waltz, so I was very lucky to find this audition, as it was kind of a secret. The project took place in an art installation - at ZKM - not in a theater. We were part of the art installation, often changing positions but not moving a great deal.
After my 4 months project ended I decided to travel to Israel for a month to find out more about the Gaga technique. It originates and was developed in Israel, so it was a very educational and fun month for me.
Your most valuable possessions?
My turtle which faces the wall in my room. She takes the bad energy from the room and makes it escape through the walls. I bought her in Mexico, so that's what they told me and I've chosen to believe it.
Coffee would be another thing on the list! It gives me a good kick start to the day.
But with my profession there’s nothing I absolutely need except for my own body and mind. Of course I’m very attached to my family, so that is definitely something I value the most.
Your most memorable moment in your life?
Me dancing on a stage with around 16 other people. At the end of the show I was improvising on the stage. I used the space that was available for me, so I jumped right in it and once I saw the light focus on me, that's when I felt alive and that's when I realized why I chose to dance. It's worth fighting for those little moments, even if they take just a second.
What do you dream about?
Right now what’s constantly on my mind is what’s going on in the world - it upsets me. How people treat each other, how they treat the environment, how they treat the animals... it’s a constant worry. How easy it is to destroy the beauty that has been given to us.
The other day I was in a class where they told us to kick really hard. To make it easier for us to kick harder we were told to imagine kicking another person. It really made me think... why should we want to kick another person? But then I realized that there’s really nothing more destructive in this world than a human being, so yes... I guess it makes sense.
I’d love to have my own company - a studio - one day with my boyfriend Blenard, and be able to work with other dancers. Being able to create an environment that we love. Invite people to festivals where we would create events and create an educational yet fun space for people who love to know more about dance.
I imagine myself ending up back in Spain - I like the warm weather as well as people who are warm at heart.
If you could give advice to people who are in the same professional field as you what would it be? Or general advice for life…
Fight for what you want. If you fall down, which happens often in this career, just stand up and carry on. If you have family who support you, then cherish it because it’s so important to have that during your development. Be open to all the knowledge and experiences from other people. Be open to travelling... you’ll find what you’re looking for, but you never know where, so that’s why it’s so important to be open to possibilities.
This job is all about being at the right place and at the right time. If you want to get involved, search hard on Facebook and generally on the internet for all kinds of auditions and courses in different schools around Europe.
TanzFrabrik - school - I didn't study there but I heard a lot of praise about it. You can do an intensive course throughout the year or
Professional dance classes -
People, Places & Events Maya Recommends
Who & What inspires Maya
I have to start with Ohad Naharin - person who developed the Gaga style. He’s quite famous now, so a lot of it has changed. I love how he’s developed the technique, but of course I think that fame kind of ruins what was once real. The technique gets you really moving but I also see it like meditation in a flowing form. During this dance you get yo use your imagination quite a lot.
One thing that completely inspires me about Sasha Waltz and something I’d like to take as a lesson, is the fact that you always have the sensation that she knows exactly what she wants. Even if she might be completely lost she'll still look completely confident and focused on the end goal. It’s very impressive how she does that. She’s very professional and carries everything in a very elegant and powerful manner. I believe that she visualizes the things she wants, and once she sees them, then nothing will stop her.
Crystal Pite - choreographer - I love her because her style is very physical and what she creates is very original. It’s a challenge to create new movements in dance, so you constantly need inspiration.
Akram Khan - dancer living in London (originally from Bangladesh) - melodic movements and very rhythmic. Blenard works for Akram - often travelling together around the world for different projects.
Music is part of my every day life and constantly inspires me. I like electro, classical, rock, pop...all depends on my mood. Chopin for example helps me fall asleep, and I love to listen to MUSE and Nicolas Jaar.
Places Maya visits for inspiration
- I love to go Parks in general - Gorlitzer Park and Mauer Park especially. During summer I need to be by the lake, the one I often go to is close to Ottostrasse Ubahn, near Tegel Airport
- Burgermeister - amazing burgers
- Mustafa's Kebab - fab kebab
- Klunkerkranich - Rooftop Bar in Neukolln = beautiful view with live music, chilled atmosphere
- Keller - Fridays are great for shows - dancers, singers, artists
- Bar next to MonsterKabinett Museum - Rosenthalerstrasse