Katrin Hall © Tilo Stengel

REAL TALK … with choreographer and director KATRIN HALL

Artistic Director of the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani

by Armando Braswell

When someone is being interviewed, they always put their best face forward. “Real Talk” is designed to help young dancers and professionals by providing them with the whole truth about the problems faced by artists…on stage and off. A conversation with Katrin Hall, former Artistic Director of Iceland Dance Company (1996 – 2012) and current artistic director of the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani in Sweden.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?

No, I did not necessarily believe I could make dance as my profession and career. It kind of happened naturally.

Ceremony of the Swedish theatre critics award for GöteborgsOperans Danskompani and Katrin Hall.
Photo by Sören Håkanlind

I like dancers who…

are strong individuals, passionate with a unique artistic voice and signature. I like artists that are creative and can contribute to a creative process, are generous and secure in their own skin yet humble. It is essential for me that they are team players and can see the big perspective and not only “what is in it for me “.

A dance piece should…

Dance pieces are as different as they are many. A good dance production should leave something behind for the audience. It should ideally touch, move and inspire. Possibly raise questions or reflect our society. Make you laugh or cry and spark off your imagination…challenge and provoke. Ideally it should also inspire, develop and challenge the participating dancers and artists. In the best-case scenario, a dance piece can be groundbreaking and change your life.

Á vit – “Journey”. A co production with the Icelandic band Gus Gus created
with and for dancers of Iceland Dance Company, Photo: Steve Lorenz

I am afraid of…

Loosing someone close to me.

What is your guilty pleasure?


One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?

I actually, really enjoyed choreographing the music video for Shakira “did it again”. Some years ago…To be in one of the studios in Hollywood leading a crew of around 100 people working on a 3 minute music video where contemporary dance was in the foreground was challenging but a very enjoyable experience. I had to be extremely prepared as I had a very tight schedule with Shakira herself.

Katrin Hall
© Tilo Stengel

One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?

This is a hard one…perhaps when I was in a big “apple” costume dancing on an outdoor stage in Germany in the rain crossing my fingers hoping that no one would recognize me. I needed the money.

Do you have a special “outside of dance” treatment for your body?

I wish. I don´t even have time to go to the gym at the moment…

Is there something you would do different if you could do it again?

I would have auditioned for Pina Bausch at some point during my time in Germany.

One of the hardest things about your job?

Accomplish everything I need to do – in between all the meetings I have every day, every week, every month. Finding the right balance in artistic programming and having the courage to take risks … it is important and necessary to be able to take risks. And for myself, being a very impatient person, it is sometimes hard for me to keep in mind that things do not change overnight.

Why do you think there are so few women in positions of power in dance?

Because there are too many men making the decisions.

Do you think that contemporary dance training ruins your classical technique?

No, of course not.

Something you like to do other your current job?

I am lucky enough to combine my passion and my work.

Something you would change in the DANCE world?

I really don´t like trends and fashion in the field of dance. In whatever way, it might occur.

Something you would change in the REAL world?

Perhaps Trump.

Share a dream? Something you want to accomplish.

If I would need to write down all the things I would like to accomplish it would be more like a book.

Who has been the most influential person/people in your career? And why?

Many people. Perhaps first of all my grandmother as she was the one that encouraged me and followed me to the audition for the Icelandic national ballet school when I was 9 years old. Since her, many people. Choreographers and artists that I have either worked with as a dancer or as a director. Or performances I have seen that have changed my view and perspective. For example, “May B” by Maguy Marin, a performance I saw more than 30 years ago and changed my view on contemporary dance at that time. And then, of course Pina…I saw almost all her performances and it was an inspiration every time.

A piece of advice for aspiring artists?

Believe in yourself – be yourself. Don´t try to be what you think other people might want you to be, embrace who you are as an artist and a human being. Trust your instincts always. Humbleness is something I feel is rewarding in the long run. Never take anything for granted. Stay hungry and keep searching and developing. And keep in mind that your biggest mistake or failure can be your biggest learning experience and crucial in order to move on and develop. It is ok to make mistakes. It is human to make mistakes.