Encounter with Gil Roman
He started dancing at age 7 and today he runs the Béjart Ballet of Lausanne. Encounter with Gil Roman, the worthy successor of Maurice Béjart. He reveals to us his view of dancing and what led to his choice of profession, when one day someone told him: “You are talented”. During this interview, we look into the soul of Maurice Béjart...
How do you intend to endure the spirit of Maurice Béjart?
To keep something going, there should be love; one must profoundly love the work, understand it and only then pass it down to the new generations who will grasp it in some way with their mind at that time; everything has a meaning, the persons are defined with a certain sense, so as soon as we pass it on to the new generations, then they can depend on the solid text which is choreography with meaning and they would have enough elements to reinvent choreography.
In order to pass down choreography from one generation to the other, it must be reinvented, not transformed, which it does naturally; it is reinvented from within and this is not about transforming the steps, nor changing the look etc., but to work within and this is what is needed; creations must be interiorised to allow today’s dancers to dance them differently.
WWhat is the most important lesson that you have learned from Maurice Béjart?
Dancing is two things to me; it is an interior research to develop oneself, to rediscover oneself through roles, through things, so it is initially a personal path. This was very important in Maurice’s view and besides, dancing must be generous, which means that when we perform in a show we do it to go straight to the people, to exchange with them; we do not do it to put them in front of something by creating a distance.
In his works, Maurice always wanted to give the keys to the public so they could participate and build their own show. First, so that his dancers would work by interiorising things with regards to themselves, with regards to their own lives and second, when we perform we do it for people and the notion of a show is very important to Maurice.
How do we transform every dance into magic?
It is very difficult to define it with words; magic depends on the interiority of the person and on the link of the person with something that goes beyond it.
What is the most important lesson that you have learned from Maurice Béjart?
To practise his profession was a very important thing for Maurice, his small profession as he would call it; he did not like being told that he was an artist; he did not like being told that he was a creator. To him, he was not an artist but a craftsman and he liked the idea of a craft industry, of a work well done.
How do you relate to the dance floor?
Without the floor, there is no possible elevation. One must love the floor, caress it, know how to leave it, but without it, we cannot fly.
Do you have a special trick for recognising a good floor?
Nobody’s perfect, including me, so it is a matter of adaptation and harmony, of a relationship between the dancer, the floor, the technique, the place, etc… again it depends very much on the individual who must put him/herself in an acceptance idea and from the moment that he/she accepts anything that could happen, he/she may dance freely, on any floor.
What advice would you give to a young dancer?
In life, where there’s a will, there’s a way, it is a matter of willpower. When we love dancing, we become dancers; if we indeed want it and love it. I do not actually have any advice to give as each person treads his/her own path with its difficulties, but if a dancer wants to dance, he/she will, nothing will prevent him/her from dancing.
One day, I went to attend a course and I was told: “Wow! You are talented”. It seemed so easy to me, so I continued with this profession and that is why from that moment on, there were no difficulties; any difficulty is accepted at the beginning, it is part of the joy of a profession; difficulties come from outside people who repeat to themselves: “Oh it is so difficult”, but a pianist who practises his scale every day, does so with pleasure and this is what is most important.
If we enjoy what we are doing, there is no problem. Dancing is similar to any other profession, if we enjoy doing it; we go through with it all the way. Only joy counts.
Which word do you hate the most?
One word that I dislike is “to control” when it is used to describe “controlling feelings” or “controlling your love life” or “controlling a family”. I do not understand why someone would use a word that is made for the economy in comparison to friendships, love lives and the likes, I do not understand. When people tell me “I control my life” well, “I myself do not control anything”.
What is your motto?
Maurice’s was “sink or swim”. But I like Nietzsche’s sentence very much “Be all that you can be”, which, by the way, was used quite often by Maurice, and which is quite true in the path that we must take; what dancers must do, is profoundly be all that they can be, to discover themselves, reveal the many layers through the roles, the ballets and as they go along, try to discover themselves.