10 minutes with Neus Gil Cortes
Can you talk about your life in dance and how it came to be that you chose this path?
My parents brought me to watch all kind of art forms when I was little, but I was fascinated by dance. One evening, as we were leaving the theatre after watching Nacho Duato’s “Mediterrani” I turned to my parents and said “I want to be a dancer”. I kept on saying it for a year and finally they brought me to a dance academy. I have been a dancer since then, when I was 6 years old, and it has been very intense, as anyone can imagine. It’s a tough journey, and the people that make it have to have an incredible drive and a profound confidence that what you are offering has value. On that I have been very lucky with the support of my family and of a few key teachers that believed in me.
Who is a choreographer whose work you respect and why?
There are many, but the first ones that come to mind are Pina Bausch and Ohad Nahari because they were really revolutionary in their approach to contemporary dance and opened up new pathways of exploration for other makers.
How do you inspire and motivate your students?
I think there are different elements that affect inspiration and motivation.
Commitment: I enter class with the goal that every student takes something valuable from the day. That comes from my dancing days: a good day was the day I learned something new, or I had a little epiphany. I look at each person in class individually and try to figure out what it is that will unlock their potential and make them grow, and when we find it together I know it will make a big difference in that person’s career. Of course there are things that can apply to everybody but I find very important the individual attention and feedback .
Trust: I think students have to see the value of what you are offering, so I try to combine feedback with an embodied explanation of what I’m trying to achieve, for them to recognise it outside their own bodies.
Music! I choose music that I like to dance to. I think it’s important for people to connect with the pleasure of dancing and music is a big part of that!
Tell us a little bit more about how and why you became interested in your practice…did you find it or it you?
There are many elements to my practice, some that came to me and some that I found by posing questions. To the first lot belong Gaga, Ohad’s Naharin technique that I discovered while dancing one of his pieces for NDCWales, and Hofesh’s technique, that I experimented with while working at his company. I can openly said these two made me a much better dancer, because I could connect to my imagination and defy the perceived limitations of my own body that had been imposed from years of training. It also allowed me to be more creative and to find my own movement style, which is something no other technique has offered me in such a tangible way. What I found by posing questions are my personal artistic values, such as the interest in asymmetries and broken lines. This came by realising I was more interested in the humanity of the person behind the movement than in the movement itself, and made me wonder what made a performer relatable and expressive versus what made them “untouchable”. Much like what Gaudi used to say, there are no straight lines in nature, and similarly there are no symmetrical bodies, or gestures, or feelings. Hence why asymmetry became an expressive value in my practice.
Do you think being a dancer made you think differently about your pregnancy?
On a practical level, I think many dancers choose to get pregnant later on in their careers because the life of a dancer (touring, job demands, fitness levels…) is not too compatible with being pregnant first and being a mother, after. I have had to say no to at least 4 dancing jobs during my pregnancy, for instance, because they would have been a risk to the health of the baby. So I chose to do it at a moment in my career where I am mainly directing and teaching, which is more compatible with it. On a physical level it’s quite an incredible experience to have the body awareness we dancers have and feel the changes your body endures. I obviously don’t know how other people feel those, but I find it’s a privilege to be so in tune with the needs and gives of your body during pregnancy.