"Miha Rodman: Passion for Truth"..


Miha Rodman, is a leading Slovenian actor, with  major credits on stage. As part of the Prešeren Theatre  Company in Kranj, Miha has toured all over Europe with  theatre shows, winning multiple awards.

He was recently cast as the  main supporting role in the  feature $lm Amre (2018)  directed by Je- Vespa, starring  alongside Abbie Cornish, Sanjar  Madi and Ben Aldridge. Recently he was here to perform  'The Jewish Dog'  directed by Yonatan Esterkin at the Kalindi Bratyajon's sixth International Theatre Festival.


Pic courtesy - http://www.miharodman.com/
What excites you about theatre?

Oscar Wilde said "I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." What excites me is the energy and connection with the audience that happens during a play or performance. The power an actor has, that there in that moment and time, he can effect the audience , change them in a way.

You have acted in several films. Is it easy for you to switch between mediums? What are the advantages and challenges that come with each?

For me acting is acting. No matter if it is infront of a live audience or a camera. You always try to give them the truth. Make them believe. But, when you are on stage I feel an actor has more control over the whole performance. You go from beginning to the end without stopping. And you know exactly what your character is going to go through. While on film, a lot is done in the editing room. Scenes are shot in different timing, so you might shoot the end of the film on your first day of filming, then the beginning and on your last day you shot the middle. So it's harder to keep your characters story in check.


Pic courtesy - http://www.miharodman.com/
As an actor, what kind of opportunity excites you? Is it working with a certain kind of director? Is it a certain kind of screenplay?

I find the most important thing for me is the people involved in the process. If I know the director and co-actors are good and there is a creative energy between us then I know the end product will be something we can be proud of. I always see myself not just as an actor acting in a film or play,  but as  a collaborator working with a team. Always thinking and searching for new ideas how and why to better the project. Sometimes directors won't let you get too involved in the development process and those kind of project I try to stay away from.

What was a great moment for you as an actor?

Last year a got a chance to act in my first Hollywood movie along side a big director and some incredibly talented actors. It was the first time I was in such a big international project and it felt amazing and very creative. The director allowed me to fully take control of my character and there were a lot of things we ended up changing from the original script. I can't tell you more at this moment as it is still in post production. But hopefully it will come out next year and I can't wait to see it. Be on the lookout ... 

One film character you would love to play...

Oh, there are so many brilliant characters written and already played. I don't think I would like to play a character that was already performed by another actor. Then people always compare the two and I hate that. A character always comes from within the actor and of course they are always different. But who is to say which is better? Who is more "right"? Otherwise I would love to portray any character of Quentin Tarantino. I think his characters are just genius and so much fun for an actor.


How challenging was it to play in The Jewish Dog? What do you hope the audience will get out of this play?

The Jewish Dog was a very tough process for me physically and mentally. Firstly, because we only had one month to prepare the play in two languages – Slovenian and English. My director Yonatan Esterkin came from Isreal to do the play and so we only had this small window of time. And secondly because of the enormous amount of text. It is about 40 pages of just text for one language so around 80 pages altogether. I had a different theater premiere just two days before and therefore didn't have any time to prepare before we started. We planned our rehearsals to try to do 4 pages each day. We needed to go through the text and clean it a bit, stage it, develop different characters and accents, work on the emotional journey of my characters and then I would go home and study. We worked eight to ten hours a day, every day, even weekends. And on the final day, on the day of the premiere, we finally got to the end. It was nerve wrecking. But the show was a great success and the audience in Slovenia and abroad seems to love it. I hope it touches the audience and shows them man-kind from a different perspective. A dogs perspective, but it is only a metaphore. A dog does not understand racism, war, etc.. he only sees the world as good or bad. To give food or not to give food, to help or not to help. I wish more people could see the world in that way.

Do you think film training is important for theatre students?

I think any kind of education for actors is necessary. An actor needs to learn different techniques and tools that he can use in his work. I studied at the Slovenian National Academy for Theatre, which focuses mostly on theatre acting. I took it upon myself to get the training needed for film. Applying to different courses and workshops. Film acting is very different from theatre acting, and there are a lot of »tricks« that an actor must know how to use. But someone needs to teach you. Also there are a lot of good books on film acting that students can find online, and a lot of material can be found on YouTube and the internet. You don't need to spend a lot of money for courses. But you must make a plan and study. And enjoy the process with all your heart.
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Kathak is not only an art, but also a philosophy of life




Nathalie Masson is a Kathak dancer born in Geneva (Switzerland), the city of Calvinus. At a young age she started training in classical dance and modern jazz. After several years trying different dance styles, she realized that her beloved style was Bollywood dance that she practiced for some years.
Then, during a Kathak dance workshop in Geneva, she met the dancer who was soon to become her guru, Smt. Sushmita Banerjee, a celebrated Kathak exponent (belonging to the Lucknow Gharana) based in Kolkata, and the sparks flew. Since then she is totally focused on Kathak and she had the incredible opportunity to follow with her guru the traditional way of teaching: guru-shishya paramparā. She currently travels several times a year to Kolkata in order to attend Smt. Sushmita Banerjee’s teaching and to participate in Kathak performances across the country.


She has launched her own association in 2017 (Vidhya - Cultural Association) to promote Indian arts, and she also performs Kathak in Geneva and surroundings in the local scenes with the aim of letting a larger audience discover and appreciate this ancient art.

How familiar were you with Kathak before you started 
learning it?

Being raised in Europe, I was exposed to classical dance such as ballet and modern dance. I had no exposure to Kathak at all. I discovered it when I did my first workshop in Geneva in 2007.

What / who inspired you to take up Kathak?

My guru-ji Sushmita Banerjee inspired me when she taught me my first Kathak items in the first Geneva workshop. She noticed that I was staying back and asked me to come forward upon noticing my expressions in the thumri item. In this workshop I fell in love with this dance and its richness.

What’s the core spirit of Kathak as you feel it?

I feel the spirit of Kathak is dual between the technical (nritta) and expression (nritya) parts, and between tandav (Shiv, masculine) and lasya (Parvati, feminine). The entire art of Kathak is striking a balance between these two energies (as it is believed it happens with the world itself in oriental beliefs such as Taoism).

Learning Kathak is a lot of hard work and requires perseverance. How challenging were your initial days?

In my case the real challenge came when we did our first workshop in the summer of Kolkata. Coming from Geneva in Switzerland the very first hurdle was the weather with extreme temperatures. Of course adaptation to the Bengali culture (language, food, customs) was required (I am happy to report that after almost ten years coming regularly to Kolkata, I have become almost half-Bengali).

Definitely from the perspective of a western artist one of the main challenges is the need for repeated and persistent practice before results start to show: there is really little instant gratification, which is a challenge I guess particularly for the new generations (even in India, I am sure). As the saying goes, the pleasure comes first in drops and then you swim into the ocean.

Any memorable dance performances?

Of course my very first performance in India (Shilparamam in Hyderabad) will always remain special. Not only was it the first performance, but it also turned out to be a solo performance in a quite big amphitheater, which made the challenge all the more daunting and rewarding.
Another performance that will always stay in my memory was one concert we did with my guru-ji in the jail of Calicut. It was extremely humbling to perform before the entire population of the jail (or at least what looked like it!), feeling that through our performance the inmates were getting a glimpse of the light and freedom they were missing.

Finally, my most recent performance in ICCR in May 2017 will also be always memorable, because it allowed me to present my first choreographic work, ‘The 7th sense’. Coming from a performance in Geneva the week before, we had very little time to finish the last details of the choreography with guru-ji, which once more added to the thrills and the satisfaction brought by the performance, particularly taking into account the very good response it elicited from the audience.

What do you think on experiments in Kathak?

I am ok with experiments, as long as they come from experts in the classic Kathak field wishing to push the limits of the expression that the classical form can provide.

However, I feel there is currently a trend for people that are far from proficient in dance to experiment for the sake of the experimenting, with no real goal of enriching the art, but more to create an impression and provide a sort of ‘pop kathak’ (also with commercial goals in mind, probably).

Many wannabe Kathak dancers are influenced by the Kathak performance they see in films, especially Hindi movies. Do you feel that the originality of classical dance forms is getting lost because of the influence of Bollywood and alteration of the conventional patterns?

Unfortunately, a lot of what is shown in movies nowadays is a whittled down version of kathak: actors who are not really proficient with the dance art basically don a glitzy dress and ‘go through the motions’ mimicking the real dance.

I think it used to be better in the past where the real dance items were shown in the movies. We recently watched Jalsaghar from Satyajit Ray including state of the art music and dance numbers that make it worth watching for their sake only. Other examples may be Umrao Jaan (the original), Pakeezaa, Mughal-e-Azam, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, and many others.

On the other hand, attracting the new generation of young people which will become the new dancers is also important. If Bollywood movies allow for some of this young people to get in touch with the dance form (be it a diminished version of it) and get interested in it, I am all for it.

Has Kathak in any manner enriched your life, your personality, your daily living?

Of course it has, in many ways. As any oriental art form, Kathak is not only an art, but also a philosophy of life, which breeds character, self-confidence and a certain way of apprehending the world. After continued practice of kathak for more than ten years now, I can confirm that I have been infused by the philosophy. I personally believe I have become a better person, much more realized, thanks to Kathak.

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