You could say that dancing in Ballet BC’s Tilt is Thibaut Eiferman’s big break, except Eiferman doesn’t believe in them.
“I don’t really believe in big breaks,” he says. For Eiferman, a career is built on a lot of hard work and a little luck, not one big break. After all, that’s how he got in with Ballet BC in the first place.
Having met Ballet BC’s Artistic Director Emily Molnar at Montreal’s Springboard Dance, it was the work he did with her there, and his years of training in New York before, that would constitute the “hard work” portion of the equation. Then came the luck.
It just so happened that when he followed up with Molnar on their time working together, she needed a male dancer. That brought him to Ballet BC as a guest dancer last season and ultimately lead to his company contract for the current season and with it Tilt, his first piece as a company member.
Tilt is made up of three pieces. The first piece is Walking Mad, a reprise of Ballet BC’s past hit where the dancers perform on a moveable wall. It is also Eiferman’s favourite number in the show.
“I think it’s going to be a great piece. It’s challenging and scary because we’re all, you know, dancing on top of a wall,” he says with a laugh, “I like that adrenaline, there are so many things to do behind the wall with the doors and hinges and the locking. But it’s fun, we’re all in it together.”
When asked about the dangerous aspects of dancing on top of a wall that moves, he replies simply: “dancing is not safe, this is a good metaphor for it.”
Accompanying Walking Mad are two new and very different pieces, one choreographed by Molnar herself, and one by Jorma Elo, an award-winning Finnish choreographer.
“Emily’s piece is very dynamic and there’s a lot of shaking and she always has this image or idea of things being thrown at you. It’s more experimental and sensation-based. Jorma’s piece is much more classical. He’s very quirky and there are some quirky things in it but in general I think there’s a traditional form with male and female partnering.”
Eiferman sees the two pieces as a sort of education on where dance is coming from and where dance is going.
“Someone could watch Jorma’s piece, and if it was the first piece they saw they would be much more familiar with it,” he says. “That’s where dance is, you know, the woman is dancing and the man often carries her. But Emily’s piece would be a good introduction to where dance is today. It’s much more sensation-based and it’s much more gender neutralized and the men dance together. It’s not pretty dancing, it’s reality.”
As a testament to the degree to which dance has changed in the past twenty years, Eiferman finds the more traditional piece to be the more challenging of the two, in part because, as a young gay dancer, he never connected with the idea of partnering with a woman in dance.
“I connect better when it’s not gendered,” he explains. “Because I’m gay I never wanted to do partnering, I never wanted to lift a girl. Now I’m learning that it’s beautiful and important, but I feel more comfortable on stage when you put me in a crazy role and just tell me to go wild. You know, to lift a girl is a little more challenging for me.”
Luckily, that’s just what he gets in Molnar’s number – an emotion-based piece where the choreography is loosely structured.
“The choreography is from the dancers and Emily structures the piece. She comments on the choreography as well, but it originally starts with us creating our own phrases,” Eiferman describes.
Even in performance, the feeling is more important than the specific movements: “the feeling is the same every night, but where I go in my extremities or how I feel that night will shift things,” going on to describe that it’s not about getting the counts of a phrase exactly the same every time, but “trying to find something genuine every night.”
Ultimately for Eiferman, that is what a dancer is: being genuine, open, and vulnerable in a piece. “For me it’s being able to be vulnerable… to feel so much in practically nothing”. Something he says Ballet BC offers to audiences all the time.
“People who come to Ballet BC will see that all the dancers are really trying to expose themselves, and they aren’t trying to be a military and everyone is just trying to be themselves the most they can and it’s beautiful.”
Tilt runs October 17-19, 2013 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Visit http://balletbc.com for tickets and information.
Andrea is a theatre-maker, yoga instructor, writer and ally to the LGBTQ community in Vancouver. She spends her days as the Communications Manager for Pacific Theatre, and is Co-Artistic Producer for Xua Xua Productions, a founding member of Les Petites Taquines Dance Theatre, and the marketing chair for the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards Society. She writes a weekly column for VancouverisAwesome.com and freelances as a yoga instructor and choreographer. When she has some down time she enjoys some green tea and quality time with her cat, Miss Gertie Marie.