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Visiting Artist Profile: Mariana Oliveira

"I think I choreograph because that's the way I know of how to communicate with the world. Some use words, I use movement."

Hometown: São Paulo (Brazil)

Education/Training: Royal Academy of Dance and National Ballet School of Cuba

Creative Specialty: Contemporary Ballet

When/how did you get interested in dance?
My mom introduced me to ballet when I was 4 years old. Apparently I was a kid with a lot of energy and I used to dance around the house, so she thought that ballet classes would be a great outlet for me. Ballet became a passion and a full time devotion since then.

Did you always know you’d be a dancer?
Yes absolutely! But I never knew I would become a choreographer. When choreography appeared in my life everything just made sense. The creative process is fascinating to me, and I was not exploring that as a dancer. I think I choreograph because that's the way I know of how to communicate with the world. Some use words, I use movement.

Where do you find creative inspiration?
Usually in the art of others. I'm very passionate about arts in general so I'm constantly using other forms of art to create the concepts of my pieces. But the concepts are usually related to my "moment". The moment I'm living in my personal life, and questions for which I'm searching answers.

Tell us a bit about your creative process – for creating choreography, prepping for a performance, etc.
The concept of the piece is the most important for me. From there I spend a couple of weeks researching everything that surrounds the universe I will explore. Only after that I will start working on the movements. And I usually don't go to the studio. I write everything down if I was writing a script of a movie. So when I get to my first rehearsal with dancers the entire piece is visualized with scenery, lights costumes, movements, etc. With that frame I start to mold things for the dancers I'm working with in the moment. And some pre-visualized movements or ideas will work, some won't, and slowly with dancers I start to build something based on that first frame. I think of choreography almost like directing a movie - you have the lines written, but how actors deliver that line it's very personal.

What do you know now that you wish you could tell your younger self?
Be more patient! Everything works out at the end!

Why is dance important to the world?
I think any form of art and entertainment is important to the world. It provides a break from daily routine, it could awaken feelings, it could reconnect you to past memories. It could make you feel lighter or make you think deeper about certain topics. I guess that's the job of the artist, to try to connect with people on a personal level.

What does self-care mean to you?
I think it's being able to be true to yourself. To embrace who you are and to not allow others or circumstances to dictate your limits. To try your very best always in any occasion and to understand that failure is part of life. 

      Photo Credit: Dante V Dauz