22 Questions with Maiko Nishino
Maiko Nishino is the main character of Sant & Usant latest film, Maiko – Dancing Child. She is one of the leading dancer in the Norwegian National Ballet and has danced classical lead roles such as the dual role in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and is currently the lead in Cinderella at the Oslo Opera House.
Here is an interview we did with Maiko last week so we could all get to know her before the release of the film.
1) What is your first memory of dancing?
One thing I have a really good memory of is when I was 4-years-old, doing Japanese Geisha dancing. Having a fan, old-fashioned Japanese music, wearing my mums heels and tap dancing.
2) Was it always ballet?
For me it was the music. I just danced around and made up everything at that time. Then classical music really interested me and of course ballet was the biggest style within classical music and it became the dream for me.
3) What is it that you love most about ballet?
I love that I am able to use my body as an instrument and tell how I feel or a story through simply dancing and not saying anything.
4) What motivated you most during those difficult years?
The fact that was able to do just ballet all day long. That was above and beyond any dream to me. The whole experience was all also very exotic for me. Being in Europe with the European students, a new city, culture, and that was something I didn’t want to give up.
5) Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
One thing I have to do is eat the biggest lunch you can imagine. THE BIGGEST! I also like to have an hour or so power-nap. I love doing my hair, my make-up. I also always stare at myself in the mirror in the dressing room and ‘become’ the character I’m portraying. I see Maiko phase out and become the character.
And lastly, at side stage just before I go on I hit my legs. Like ’Hello! Wake up!’ just in case I’ve forgotten my legs!
6) What gives you the most inspiration?
The ability to really push my limits and test how far I can go both physically and mentally, I love that. I feel like everyday I am pushing myself and becoming better and that really inspires me.
7) What was the last film you watched?
The Theory Of Everything, which showed the life of Steven Hawking. I cried a lot! It made me realised how fortunate I am to be healthy. To be able to do what I do day in day out.
8) What was your initial reaction when Åse (director) approached you about the film?
‘Oh No! No no no no!’ No one is following me around everywhere, please no! That was the first thing. But then I got to know Åse a lot, and actually in the end I didn’t even notice where she was. She became part of me.
9) Favourite place on earth?
I have to say probably, with my family but being selfish, and just thinking about myself, it’s has to be the stage.
10) If you hadn’t chosen this career, what would you be?
Hair and Makeup Artist. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was little. I enjoyed ding my sister’s hair and make-up and my own but I think doing it for others, it’s so fascinating.
11) What’s your favourite activity outside of work?
Cooking, and eating.
12) If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Anything my mum cooks, traditional Japanese food.
13) All time favourite film?
It’s really a really funny one actually, and my husband doesn’t appreciate it. I think it was being in London alone and having to connect with the other girls. What we used to watch was Dirty Dancing. I can’t say it’s my ‘ultimate favourite film’ but for me it is the film I remember the most. Being able to connect without being able to speak to each other much. And that movie and that style, the love, the dancing the music. I have a warm feeling when I think about that film.
14) Strangest place you have performed?
In the canteen of a bank in Arnedal, Norway. Even worse, I changed in the canteens fridge, with food around me.
15) Most amazing place you have performed?
Opening night of the Oslo Opera House was quite special. I got to dance to very special ballets. That feeling that Oslo finally had its own opera house that was this beautiful was very overwhelming. .
16) Biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
Coming back after the birth and training for Swan Lake. It was challenging both emotionally and physically.
17) Highlight of your career so far?
First time my parents came to see me perform. Which was Swan lake in 2005. They hadn’t seen me dance since I left Japan and my dance teacher from Japan was also there. So it was kind of a moment for me to repay them for everything they had done for me over the years.
18) Odette or Odile?
I’m quite a lot like Odette but I have a crazy side. So if Odette is white and Odile is black, I’m in the middle but a bit more fun and eccentric so I would be like an orange.
19) One thing people will be surprised to know about you?
I’m a terrible singer. And I’m a very sensitive person. The smallest thing can make me cry and Nicolai (husband) never understands how it’s possible for me to cry so easily!
20) What’s at the top of your bucket list?
To travel. I’ve seen so little of the world and I want to travel, see and meet people from all over the world and get to know their cultures. That’s my dream, I just want to see the world.
21) Take away from the film?
Some people have this stereotype of ballet dancers and I just want to people to watch the film and feel close to me as a human being. I tried to show as much of myself and be open to share even the most painful times i experienced in the four years and I hope that they get moved by the film and the story.
22) Word you live by?
I believe in positive energy. The more you give the more you get back So always give more than 100% in everything you do, even the little things. But also live in the moment and enjoy it!