A short talk with Nikisha Fogo, Soloist Vienna State Ballet: May 24th, 2018
Who can still remember Sally Brown’s (Charlie Brown’s little sister) character? She is joyful, extremely alive, very stubborn, has lots of fun, has serious thoughts about life and is quite determined indeed! For me, these qualities also describe and define Miss Fogo’s character. This “lilla flicka” (little girl in Swedish), that knows exactly what she wants, this gifted dancer that is working very analytically and steadily in a beautiful career, that within some few years turned her into a bright Soloist at the Vienna State Opera.
She started to take classes in Sweden, then joined the Royal Ballet School in 2011 and the Corps de Ballet of the Vienna State Ballet in Sep. 2013. She was promoted to Half-Soloist and became a Soloist in less than 5 years! Miss Fogo is 23 years old and still has a bright future ahead.
We sat quietly and calmly at the “Do & Co” in Vienna, a nice place for interviews, she enjoying some soda with lemon and I my all-time favourite tomato juice with Tabasco and lots of Worcestershire Sauce which they correctly serve with a piece of celery and is for me a sort of “small meal”!
We talk first about her small injury (a rib’s fracture) that happened during a performance of John Neumeier’s “Bach Suite” just a short time before the Japan Tournée and prevented her from joining the trip. Sad.
“But let’s talk about something more joyful… You have been dancing quite a lot: which are your preferred roles up to now?” I ask, to “open” the interview.
She takes a deep breath and answers slowly, very analytically “Well, Mr. B.’s “Theme and Variations” for sure – a very challenging piece of choreography which is so incredibly satisfying… Then Olga in “Onegin” because also of the work involved in preparing this character, finding “her” and how she thinks and acts. Oh, and also Forsythe’s “Second Detail”, which in fact was the first “big thing” I’ve ever did. I was still in the Corps-de-Ballet, had one single stage rehearsal (well, at least one!) and then went on with the performance” she laughs remembering this time while her face radiates with these warm memories.
“Let us pretend I am the “Genius” in a Lamp that you just found. I offer you three wishes… Three ballet wishes, three roles… Which would you chose?” I say jokingly and add “Anything you wish!”
Without hesitation she answers “Odette/Odile, Juliet in Cranko’s version of R. & J. and Kitri in Don Q.”
“How do you see yourself if I’d ask you about “Abstract Ballets vs. real roles”?”
With a beautiful, coy honesty she says “That is quite a difficult question for me to answer… I lack still the experience… Up to now I have been doing mostly abstract roles – with the exception of “Olga” which I considered, as I have already said, a beautiful experience! Only time will tell… “
“Think of her, Olga. How did you prepare yourself for this role, how did your creative process occur?”
“I read simple texts, not complicated ones, you see, I am dyslexic. Then I begin to wonder about the character and how I can project the character’s feelings according to the steps I have been given. I research various performances by other dancers, comparing their interpretations and I ask, whenever there is a possibility, other dancers that have danced this certain role how they “saw” this character! But I do not copy. I may sometimes just use things “here and there” that suit my character and personality!”
And, all of a sudden, I realized once more this kind of determination that is so much like Miss Sally B. and had to smile to myself, interiorly, to be once more doing this comparison! :-)
“You presented a very nice choreography during the last “Young Talents Performance” danced by Sveva Gargiulo. I never commented it because I never write about Galas and such events – it would look like a sort of “competition”. Do you wish to continue choreographing?”
“Oh yes, it is so very important for me to choreograph… to find my own movements, my own language. Everyone has one of his own. It is fascinating to work with another dancer while this dancer is “speaking” my language. It helps me understand more of myself while trying the dancer to find his own personality in my kind of movements. I danced the same role last year in Japan. Sveva Gargiulo and I are completely different while dancing this choreography. Each has a personal way of projecting to the audience their own personalities, while still using 100% the choreographer’s language”. For me a very clever statement, filled with insight…
“One of these days I found on facebook an extremely interesting video which you put online. About the “shoe manufacture” in-house at the Royal Ballet. Fascinating. I know that you once flew to London just to buy a “suitcase” full of Shoes… which are your favourites?”
“No question about that: Freed of London… “
“I thought so” I said.
“It is of course more difficult to “live” with this kind of shoes… You have to work more on them. They also do not last that long as, for example, Gaynor’s shoes which do not require much of a “treatment” before using them. But there is another quality in them – for me, for my feet specifically – even though they may sometimes be ruined after one single rehearsal… “
I could still be there, talking to this charming young lady, this very determined one. “Tack, Tack min Lilla Flicka” for this enchanting time!