Every month, Etcetera gazes into the soul of a performing artist. We choose artistic interest over human interest. This time, we are happy to give the word to Moya Michael, a dancer, performer and choreographer born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has danced with the likes of Akram Khan, Gregory Maqoma, Rosas, Eastman, Faustin Linyekula, David Hernandez, Mårten Spångberg and Jin Xing. Moya has worked on commissions various parts of the world including in China, India, South Africa. Furthermore, Moya has spearheaded an open-ended collaboration in Pondicherry, India, with a group of multidisciplinary artists from across the globe. Moya continues to evolve as a creative maker of live performance. It is in this manner that she has established a working relationship with KVS, where her latest work, Outwalkers, can be seen this week.


Etcetera: What was your first experience with the performing arts?

Moya Michael: On the streets of Johannesburg! The neighborhood I grew up in. There was always this vibrant energy amongst us kids and in the environment around us. My friends and I would make up dances all the time and then perform them at random to people. I was also in a local version of the Wizard of Oz when I was around 10.  We performed in the Community Centre of the neighborhood.

What did you want to become as a child?

A pilot!

Which performance kept you awake at night recently?

The performance of our lives keeps me awake at night.

And which performance is unforgettable?

I can’t forget a performance that I saw in India quite a while back called ‘Queen Size’ by brilliant choreographer Mandeep Raikhy. A duet of protest or response to Section 377 of the Indian penal code that criminalizes homosexuality in India. A beautiful choreographic study of the intimacy between two men.  A complete love story. I was totally moved by this performance. The beauty of it and also the strength of the performers and subject in that particular context. I am also really moved by the work of a young Nigerian artist called Sunday Valu Ozegbe who is making work and gatherings in the streets of Lagos for the people and by the people.

What is your favorite place to be?

On a remote island, where I grow hair under my armpits and smoke trees!!! That place exists in my dreams obviously, but who knows maybe one day. On a more serious note, also South Africa, my home country. The place of many possibilities,  where we have shown the world with our amazing constitution that we can exercise our human rights without fear or favor. Another favourite place WOULD be a world where black people are free!!!!

Where would you like to show your work once?

At a place where I feel home and loved and welcomed and in front of my ancestors.

Who taught you the most in your life?

My father!

What does your workplace look like?

I don’t have an atelier or workspace of my own. I’m not that artist, lol.  Most of the time the work happens in a studio which starts out clean and slowly becomes messy. Then the work also tends to happen over food and drinks with collaborators and friends.

Do you have a ritual before you go on stage or before a premiere?

Yes, I have several.  Most of the time it involves cursing big time as a way of letting some of the adrenalin go. It also somehow helps me centre myself.

What is the best thing about your job?

That I get to make shit happen.

Do your parents like your work?

In this life and in this realm my parents didn’t get to see the work, but I like to think that they are watching the work from wherever they are right now and that they like it and are really proud.

Does theatre have an impact?

It has the ability to make society reconnect to life issues head on. It allows us to have a (critical) eye both as makers and observers. To dissect issues that require us to look at, to be addressed, researched, presented and faced. Can make us laugh, cry and basically add colour to our sometimes dreary lives!!!

With whom would you like to collaborate once?

I could collaborate with anyone if there is a connection, and we are curious and excited to share… and it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to a certain aesthetic or idea.  For me it’s about that spark of creativity, that excitement to keep going and about feeling proud of what we have made in the end.

Who would you like to see collaborate on a piece?


 Did you ever have a special encounter with an audience member?

Yes and then we got married!

What is the most recent note you made?

Potatoes, celery…

Crawling always works!

Is art your life?

Art has offered me a career. It has offered me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with amazing people across the globe. It does also pay the bills, and is very much a part of me, but it is not everything.

If you had the chance to start again and choose a new career, what would you do?

I’m not sure actually. Maybe I wouldn’t take that chance because I’m fine with what I do and where it got me so far and I am super grateful for the people who helped and supported me along the way. Or maybe I’ll become that pilot who knows…

Do you think the theatre will survive in the future?

Yes, it better. I mean I really hope so. But the future is now so…


This article was originally published by Etcetera on February 7, 2022, and has been reposted with permission. To read the original article, please click here.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Etcetera .

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.