Wendy Gibbins Has Many Collaborations With Greek Artists

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Wendy Gibbins is a renowned choreographer known for her innovative and captivating dance performances. She has dedicated her life to the art of dance, pushing the boundaries of movement and expression. Gibbins’ work has been celebrated for its unique blend of technique, emotion, and storytelling, captivating audiences worldwide.

Throughout her career, Gibbins has been recognized for her contributions to the dance world. Her choreography has been featured in prestigious dance companies and theaters, as well as in her own productions. Gibbins’ work has been described as a fusion of classical and contemporary styles, showcasing her versatility and creativity.

In addition to her choreographic work, Gibbins has also been an influential figure in the dance community, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of dancers and choreographers as well as many Greek celebrities. Her dedication to the art of dance and her commitment to pushing the boundaries of movement have made her a respected and admired figure in the dance world.

What inspired you to pursue a dance career, and how did you get started?

I started dancing as soon as I could walk, I gatecrashed my sisters’ dance classes. I saw many ballets at the theatre when the companies performed in my home town. I also watched a lot of dancing in the movies and on television. I was always captivated when watching dancers perform. I truly believe it is a need for me. I find that if I’m dancing with a group of dancers, teaching, or choreographing it is a therapy. Problems dissolve as I get absorbed in dancing.

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable collaboration with artists or choreographers? What made it special or unique?

When I look back, my time on Ciao Antenna, was the most special time as a dancer. Garry Mardon was the choreographer, I was his assistant. As a group we pushed ourselves to the limits, it was a great time and I think everyone involved in that job has the same memory of it. I particularly enjoyed working as a choreographer with the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, a group of young dancers there to do their best work. That was extremely satisfying.

Working with all the Greek popstars was a great accomplishment, I enjoyed all of my collaborations with those artists, One, Evridiki, Anna Vissi, Helena Paparizou, Christos Dantis, and Elli Kokkinou, to name a few, they are all great at what they do in their own individual way. The commercial category of creativity demands staying ahead of the trends and pushes innovative creativity. I always rose to the challenge. The most precious works I did though are the small theatre productions I wrote, directed, and choreographed, ‘Kiss On Her Wings’ and ‘Quivering Shadows.’ I was awarded Best Choreography in a Theatre Production by the Korfiatika Academy for the production of ‘Kiss On Her Wings.’ These are my babies and I love them. I would love to do more of this kind of work. The book ‘Kiss On Her Wings’ is available on as a Kindle book.

How has living in Greece influenced your work as a dancer and choreographer? Why did you choose Greece to live in?

I’ll start with why I live in Greece; I originally came here on a contract as a dancer for a theatre as a dancer to get my equity card (the English dancers’ union card). While on a contract, I met my husband, we fell in love, got married and stayed in love until the day he died in September 2022. A huge loss, I haven’t learned to live without him yet. My family and life have been ripped apart, my heart aches with grief. I stayed in Greece by default not choice. It took me years to acclimatize to the Greek culture, I think that is because there is a great lack of structure in the ‘Performing Arts,’ and it is extremely difficult for foreign dancers to adapt to that. There were no agencies, you had to do everything yourself from finding out about auditions to negotiating your wages. Rehearsals never started on time, opening dates were delayed, to me this was chaos.

I don’t think living in Greece has influenced my work, I am primarily a dancer, then a choreographer, and then a teacher. I have a curious experimental nature, and it would be my pleasure to work in brainstorming and to spend my time thinking of new concepts and crazy ideas. I think everyone in this business will tell you inspiration is the key, you have to stay inspired to be able to create. Creation is born in the play and fun area of the brain, you need to be able to access that part of the brain.

What are the most important traits of a successful dancer, teacher, and choreographer?

After a dance education, which is an immense amount of work, I think it’s down to dedication and persistence. Being a dancer, teacher, or choreographer is extremely hard work, both physically and mentally, so if you don’t love it, I don’t believe you can do it. I think you also need to be able to find freedom in dancing as it needs to look effortless. You can’t hide when you are on stage performing for an audience, so as they say practice makes perfect, learn your art and then perfect it, then you are free.

Can you share a bit about your experience as a dance teacher and how it has informed your work as a choreographer?

Teaching dance; if you are a choreographer that teaches, it allows you to experiment, and stay on top of current trends. This works when you’re teaching professional or advanced students, you learn what the students love, so it’s like continuously hitting the refresh key on your computer. On the other hand, young students need to be taught techniques in a gradually progressive fashion, that is why dance organizations are so important as they have curriculums relevant to age and levels of dance capability.

I think choreographers can be selfish teachers if they haven’t got the students’ education as the most important goal in their class.

Not all students are going to be dancers, most of them go to class because they love dancing, therefore, it’s important to teach them a strong and safe technique to avoid injury. Most dance styles aren’t based on natural movement; therefore, it can stress the body. I teach children and young adults dance, my optimum goal is to teach sound technique and dance health (teaching without causing injury) in a way that is encouraging, building technique, self-esteem, and therefore confidence.

How do you approach the creative process when developing new choreography or dance pieces?

When creating choreographies, I listen to the music over and over to create a storyline or concept, sometimes choreography starts from the storyline or concept then you have to decide on the auditory. Next, I start the process of converting that into a dance movement. I have to be able to feel before I do. I love to work with an assistant at the creative part of the process, I love the energy of having someone with me. Then comes teaching the choreography to the dancers. I don’t like the position of choreographer after the creative part of the process is over, when it goes on stage on opening night, I feel that I have given part of myself away.

What advice would you give to aspiring dancers and choreographers who are just starting their careers?

Choose your vocational education carefully, have a goal and then search for the absolute best education you can find to fit your goal.

Leave Greece, it saddens me to say. Get as much experience as you can outside the country and then come back.

Don’t become disillusioned or bitter. Celebrate all your accomplishments, and learn from your failures. Dancing can be a cruel business, don’t get put off, find your niche.

Can you discuss a time when you faced a significant challenge in your career and how you overcame it?

There are so many challenges when embarking on a career in the arts. Being challenged is part of the job, I have had to choreograph songs that I don’t like, and concepts I don’t agree with for the specific piece, but this is part of being in the business. I always have to find a way of convincing myself I like what I’m doing otherwise I find it incredibly difficult to be creative.

What do you hope audiences take away from your performances, and what message or emotion do you strive to convey through your work?

Hope, beauty, a positive message, or just feeling invigorated after watching the dynamics and pure energy of dance. I also like grace to be present in my work.

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