Magic Mike Interviewed by: Mariarosaria Iorio
Mike Winter is an atypical Welsh dancer and choreographer. Following an initial career in the world of international finance and IT he unexpectedly received a scholarship from the then patron of the English National Ballet, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, to fulfil a latent desire to explore the world of contemporary dance. After training for his Master’s degree in Dance Theatre at London’s renowned Trinity Laban dance conservatoire, Mike chose Switzerland as his base (“I liked the mountains and the tax benefits”) from which to launch a 25 year career as an internationally touring professional dancer, collaborating with many of the world’s leading choreographers. He has subsequently developed into an in-demand choreographer in his own right, working under the pseudonym MisterWinter for his company the winternational. He is currently promoting DeerGod, the first part of his highly anticipated The Belief Series trilogy, in collaboration with Vatican City State.
Q: MisterWinter, what is the story-telling of DeerGod?
DeerGod is a compact and lively choreography for three dancers that through virtuosity partner work, an irresistible music score and an unexpected cameo appearance from one of the world’s most recognizable individuals, questions those eternally burning themes of love, faith and…animal consciousness.
Q: Were you inspired by any particular event to create this show? Apparently it is joyful and thought-provocative?
I created DeerGod with a deliberate goal of presenting a popular performance that would resonate for audiences the sheer joy of dance, whilst containing within it a deeper message. When I was studying dance in London I lived in an Anglican Chaplaincy where I also socialised with many theologians, and there began my fascination in faith, belief and taboo. Alongside this fascination I had long been attracted to the intriguing dilemma of the character of the priest portrayed in the classic William Friedkin film The Exorcist. A subplot of the film is concerned with how this priest has lost his faith. This notion of how a priest, of all people, can continue to exist if he no longer believes in his own faith is such a wonderful dramatic device that I wanted one day to explore it for myself. This exploration was actually my starting point for DeerGod, and the character that I dance in it is directly inspired by this priest and his philosophical doubts.
Q: If you had to give two words to describe the emotions revealed in DeerGod what would you say ?
If I had to give just two words then I would say “magic” and “Mike”. Because a review for Steven Soderbergh’s film Magic Mike described the film as “cheeky humour, tender emotion and taut abs”. Which is exactly what DeerGod is, but in more than two words!
Q: What are your future plans and projects ?
My immediate plans for my company the winternational are to create the remaining two parts of my trilogy entitled The Belief Series. This DeerGod trio is the first instalment, and by 2019 I am expecting to have finished the second instalment in the form of a duet and the third and final part as a solo which I will choreograph on myself. I haven’t yet decided on their titles still, but what is clear is that their connecting theme will be that of belief, and an exploration of what different forms belief can manifest itself in. Aside from the winternational I am also currently enjoying my role as an associate choreographer in the Geneva-based dance company Cie József Trefeli, with whom we are currently launching an international series of new choreographic projects under the blanket title TRACES# and touring our existing performance LIFT within France. I am also pleased to be performing roles in 2017 for the Swiss choreographers Nicole Seiler and YoungSoon Cho Jaquet and the late, great British choreographer Nigel Charnock.