Eric Gauthier is the hardest working man in show business.
In 2007, Eric chose me to be one of the six founding members of Gauthier Dance. I was in the company for five seasons. It was a wild ride. In a time when dance companies were closing, Eric decided to create one. Gauthier Dance has had incredible luck and great success. The company has performed all over the world and has had some pretty amazing adventures along the way.
It was Eric’s first time being a director. He had just left his position as a soloist at the Stuttgart Ballet the year before. Yes, it was risky. For Eric, for Theaterhaus, and for the dancers…but he did it. In a big way. Eric has incredible passion. He knows what he wants. He also takes risks. He is not afraid to fail. I have performed in 14 creations of Eric, each one very different than the other. Eric has made me everything from a fish to a robot. I was never bored. It was challenging and exciting.
Eric is charming, has a great sense of humor and he is not afraid to have a good time. He can talk to anyone. His energy is vibrating through his company. He was always around, always available, you could talk to him anytime. He is great at evoking team spirit within the group. Before a show, we would all come together backstage and make a “circle”. We would always dance for someone, whether it was for a friend or a parent watching in the public, or someone who felt sick, or someone who just needed good energy…there was always someone to dance for. I had my turn also! That was nice. Eric would also watch his pieces in the wings and cheer the loudest. He was proud of his team and often told us.
You never knew what was going to happen in that company. We saw over 60 cities in 5 years, some cities every year. I remember being in the Stuttgart airport on the way to Montreal with the company, and suddenly I heard my name on the intercom. I remember this because it was the first and only time I had ever heard my name on a loudspeaker in the airport. I ran to the gate to see what they wanted. When I got there, I saw Eric speaking with the flight attendants. Next thing I knew, the whole company…including technicians, and costume…everyone…was upgraded to business class! I don’t know what he said or how it happened…all I know is I was tipsy on champagne before the plane took off.
Eric is the artistic director of his own company, Gauthier Dance//Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart. Gauthier Dance presents pieces by internationally known choreographers like Mauro Bigonzetti, William Forsythe, Jirí Kylián, Itzik Galili, Paul Lightfoot/Sol Léon and Hans van Manen, and of course Eric’s own creations. Eric’s creations have been shown in theaters worldwide, such as the Marinskij Ballet St. Petersburg. In addition, he has also worked with the Staatsballett Berlin, the Ballet of the Saarländisches Staatstheater Saarbrücken and the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam. In 2011, he was awarded the Deutscher Tanzpreis »Zukunft«, a prize which is given to outstanding young artists.
Like in any company, there were ups and downs. Because we were such a small company, there was a lot of work to be done by not a lot of people. One year in Gauthier Dance was like two years in any other company. I was there for five. We had to think on our feet and be prepared for anything. It was an intense five years…but, I learned a lot from Eric. I remember he said to me once, “Armando, you will be a great director one day, because you will learn from my mistakes.” He was always so supportive of me…of everyone. He has a big heart. During my time at Gauthier Dance, and in addition to over 80 performances a season, we also did over 100 performances in hospitals and youth homes for children and the elderly. They were called “Mobil” performances. They were very important to Eric and no matter how packed our schedules were, he made sure to make those Mobil performances a priority. When you saw the faces of the kids…how happy they were – it felt great to be able to dance for people who could not come to the theater. We brought the theater to them!
Before one of our Mobil performances, Eric gave a speech (as he always did) to warm up the crowd. The audience was filled with a diverse group of teenagers – some of them seeing ballet for the first time. Eric said in German, “I always want my company to be diverse… many different spices… and of all the black dancers in Germany, I think I found the best one…” Everyone looked at me with big smiles. After the show I said “Hey Eric, that was really sweet what you said about me in there…” to which Eric paused, looked at me and replied ,”I said in Germany….” We both erupted in laughter! Classic.
Thank you, Eric, for your inspiration and all the good times………………
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
At first, all I wanted was to be a hockey player… a goalie to be exact. But then, when I was nine years old, I saw the musical Cats in Toronto and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a dancer.
Eric’s Favorite Things
Things to eat?
I have a Favorite magazine NME – New Musical Express. It’s a British music magazine. I’m totally into Brit pop music. I buy it every week.
Romance: Sleepless in Seattle (the soundtrack is amazing. Everyone should have it.)
Comedy: Everything Adam Sandler
Horror: Wrong Turn
Drama: The Blind Side
Science Fiction: Aliens (second one)
Classical: Romeo and Juliet by John Cranko. Symphony In D by Jiri Kylian.Contemporary: All the Black and White Ballets From Kylian.
I like dancers who…
As a director, I like dancers who correct themselves (less work for me). As an audience member, I like dancers who REALLY dance. There a million ways to say that. Dancers who dance with their soul. It should look like you were put on this earth to do only that. If you don’t give a hundred percent, the public knows that. So you must always dance like it is your last show. Why save Energy?
I am afraid of…
Wow, that is a hard one…I am not afraid of failing…I can tell you that much. I am afraid of letting people down. Maybe I am too trustworthy, but I am learning.
Something you like to do other than dancing?
Anything that allows me to use my artistry. Songwriting, drawing, music, painting, etc. Since three years, fatherhood!
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
Reid Anderson. I started with Reid in Toronto, before he came to Stuttgart. We have this saying that he is my “Ballet Papa” and I am his “Ballet son”.
One of the hardest things about being a director and performer?
I will say this…as a dancer…be prepared. As a director…expect the unexpected. Actually, they roll with each other quite well!
Do you have any goals that you still hope to achieve?
For me, it is not about becoming the next Jiri Kylian or a big choreographer. In a lot of ways, I am a company manager also. Who knows what the future will bring. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
Three words to describe yourself….
Kind, Impatient, and Passionate.
Dear aspiring artists,
The Company 2013
From “The Old Man and Me” by Hans Van Manen Eric with Isabelle Pollet-Villard
From Marco Goecke’s “I Found a Fox II”. Eric Gauthier Photo by Regina Brocke.
From Marco Goecke’s “I Found a Fox II”. Caroline Fabre, Eric, and Miriam Gronwald Photo by Regina Brocke
“POPPEA POPPEA” by Christian Spuck. Garazi Perez Oloriz and Eric. which was named one of the worldwide top-ten-productions of the season 2009/10 by the british journal Dance Europe. Moreover, the choreography received the german theatre prize „Der Faust“ and was filmed for 3D screenings by the tv channels ZDF and arte in 2013.
“Freistoß” by Roberto Scafti. Florian Lochner, Tars Vandebeek and Eric. Photo by Regina Brocke
Have you seen Gauthier Dance live? Or have you seen Eric in performance?
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