AIVILO was a spectacular when it staged recently at the National Theatre of Namibia featuring over 20 of Namibia’s best dance influences. Coupled with the success of AIVILO and Sandy Rudd’s ‘I am John’ production, dancer and choreographer Sven-Eric Muller became synonymous with Namibia’s dance scene.
Muller has previously worked on West Side Story and Funny Girl with the Fugard Theatre. His vast experience stretched to works such as Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Show and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Muller was soloist and principal dancer at Bovim Ballet, a contemporary ballet company, for 5 years.
Muller had a little stint in Australia in 2014 which included self-made work called Pop-up Cabaret as well as teaching at Mad Dance House in Brisbane. Namib Insider sat down with Muller to talk dance, dance and more dance…
How does a normal day for you start?
Squint, squint, coffee and then slowly the wheels start turning.
As a choreographer, and as a dancer, who are your influences? Whose work do you really like?
Style wise I would say my influences are ballet, contemporary and jazz. The biggest influence for me is emotion. Inspiration for movement comes more often than not from a place of emotion or at the very least an emotional stimulus. I really love Wayne McGregors work and Brian Friedman but there are so many that I find inspirational. The internet gives it all to you, so the exposure is never ending.
One of your most recent projects was AIVILO. This production was a real success and you worked with pretty big names in the Namibian dance scene. When putting on a production of such magnitude and scope, do you ever have a moment of terror that it won’t work?
Constant moments of terror!!! It’s a very high anxiety process, but then you just move through it and realize it’s just part of the process. Doubt is part and parcel of being a creative. It can be very useful if it doesn’t cripple you.
Tell me a little bit about your choreographic process.
I am a visionary creator. I see the piece in my head, it moves in-front of my eyes and then I try create it in real life. The movement is then created by feeling the essence of the vision. Sometimes I even dream up full sets of choreography, which get me up in the middle of the night. Inspiration strikes at the strangest times (often when I am driving as well.)
What is the most challenging thing about what you do?
The risk of it all. You have constant bursts of unemployment, forever unsure of what the future holds. It is thrilling and exciting but mostly it’s nerve wrecking and terrifying.
What’s the most rewarding?
The work itself. I love what I do. It fulfills me.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That it is simple, easy and quick. They only see the top of the iceberg not what submerged in the waters of the process before the performance.
When did you start all of this? What inspired you?
I only started training in 2009, I was 19 years old…A small town boy with a dream. I have always loved moving and dancing though, so it was my passion for dance and performance that drove me to actually pursuing it. So You Think You Can Dance was big on television at that time and I was addicted, I think that might have been final push into the creative world.
What dance genre appeals mostly to you?
I don’t have a favourite. All dance genres amaze me and is intertwined in some way.
Do you just dance or do you have an 8-5 job?
I am a full time actor/singer/dancer. I do a little bit of everything and that pays the bills. No 8-5, I can’t sit still for that long.
You recently worked with Sandy Rudd on her recent project, I am John. How was that experience like for you?
It was a revealing process for me, I had never worked in such a structure- less environment where I had the freedom to just move and improvise from a place of emotion. It was great, and unlocked a beautiful sense of confidence in my ability. I loved the live music rooted in the Oshivambo culture and sound. I was inspired.
When was the last time you went to a club to just dance?
I don’t really go clubbing anymore, though I can feel it in my waters….it’s time. I might take my twin sister and go dance the night away soon.
To what kind of music?
Hip Hop and RnB please! No techno things!
Overall, what have you learned about yourself- both your strengths and your vulnerabilities- through dance?
I have learned that I am incredible resilient and so is my body (as a strength). On the vulnerable side I discovered that I reveal a lot about myself when I am at my best and enigmatic. Walls are the enemy of performance.