Exhibition: Women in Malta – Sandra Mifsud
Sandra came into my studio wearing a t-shirt and comfy soft shoes, with the natural slim figure of a dancer.
She gave me a beautiful smile as she walked in. She talks in a very soft tone and never in a hurry.
I asked what she thought about the project. She said “It’s interesting, not just the old fashioned thinking of women, it’s about women having brains”.
She didn’t ask me much about the project. She said “I will trust you blindly.” It’s really flattering as I have only met her once before, and am almost a total stranger to her. I’m grateful for the trust and support these 15 women are giving me.
At the moment she is working on various projects. She seemed quiet and calm when she sat down and talked to me. But after we talked for a short while, I found that she is a very active person, she always has more then one project and things going on.
She told me something interesting about her life. She said she always has a few projects going on at the same time, so that if one of them is not working, she can work on another. Then the good things that happen in one project can bring good energy to the non-working project and keep it going.
She said, that for her, it has advantages and disadvantages to always do a few projects at the same time. The good thing is that she doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket, the downside could be that when she hopes to be more focused on one project she wouldn’t be able to do that.
It’s her personality that makes her who she is today.
In 2010 she decided to become a full-time freelance dancer. It’s not an easy journey but she wants to do the things she really loves and dedicate herself to them.
I asked her, has she ever thought about going back to be an employee again, she said never. I guessed it, and that would be my answer to the question as well.
At the moment she has a few projects, like the National Dance Company “2FINMALTA DANCE ENSEMBLE”, which she is setting up. For the opening doors ASSOCIATION Malta (www.openingdoorsmalta.org) she is working on a project for people with disability. She is also giving lectures in the University of Malta in the dance studies department, she teaches about Technology and Interdisciplinary Performance. It’s more about the collaboration with other people, not just the performance and dance. Dance is a collaboration, team work, knowing how to interact and respect people is sometimes more important than how good you are in the art of performance. She has a background in business studies, and that has certainly given her a wide range of experience working with people, and contributes to her art work.
I saw some photos when she was giving a dance performance in Wales. (It was in July 2014, at the Swansea National Waterfront Museum in Wales, UK as part of a festival called Dance Days, organised by the Taliesin Arts Centre) what caught me was not only the freeze moment of her beautiful dance and expression, but also the expression from the the audience. They were really into the show and immersed in it. It makes me want to see more and know more about the dance. “Do you have a video of the performance? I would love to see it.” I asked.
It surprised me to hear that she actually enjoys it more when working with people who have no, or little experience with dance. She said, “ You can work with the natural movement of their personality. You can use game to bring out the movement, give them inspiration to let them use their natural movement. When they start to trust you, you win them over, then you can start to correct and direct them. “ It sounds great, just the way I would like to be taught. There are many people out there who are very shy about moving their bodies and getting onto the dance floor. It’s to do a lot with not having enough confidence about dancing. If a person could guide me and be patient with me like that, I think I could probably do anything.
She has been doing a very interesting performance. Sandra and her partner were performing in “Science in the city” in Valletta and “Dance Days” in Welis and in “Ziquzasq”, for which she did the choreography. For “Science in the City” and the “Dance Days”, their performance is about merging the performance with the audience. The audience could cross between them, get very close and also interact with the dance. It’s a space they have to be very creative with to cope with all kinds of situations the audience put them in, they can cross over the space as they dance, there is no stage, it’s like a spontaneous dance, but well organized.
She said that after she got the Masters degree of dance she gained much more confidence, and she feels she can take on a lot more different projects without worrying about whether she can do it.
1)When you feel down, what do you usually do to make yourself feel better? How do you deal with stress?
I usually go for a walk with my dogs, or spend time with my pets at home. I have 2 dogs and 2 cats. They count as my closest network of best friends. Just one look at their cute and innocent nature and my heart and mind melts!
2)What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Meeting and working with some amazing people, students and colleagues who are sensitive and very open. I find my relationships with colleagues who are artists, or aspiring artists, to be very nourishing.
3)Have you been professionally photographed before? How did you feel? (Before the shoot with Amanda)
I have been photographed as a dancer, student and performer. It felt good because photographers capture moments that are hard to recollect at times when you are in motion. The captured moment reminds me of what I felt in that millisecond of complex movement which could be impossible to recollect without the moment captured by the photographer.
4)If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Know who you are.
5)When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?
One of my idols is Stephen Fry, he says that tough times are a bit like the weather, it’s there, you are aware of it but it will pass. I also recall a Buddhist saying that it’s useless stressing – if you can do something about a situation then do it, if not then it’s needless to stress about it.
6) How do you define success?
Feeling genuinely fulfilled.
Any suggestions for young people who want to pursue dance as a full time profession?
Take a course, and take it seriously. When you finish, see if it’s what you really want to do. However, to have another skill is also very important, but you will have dance as your main work and any other job becomes secondary.