© Danny Willems

Moya Michael

Moya Michael is a dancer, choreographer and one of the KVS faces. 

Since moving to Brussels from South Africa in 1997, Moya Michael has been an active contributor in the performing arts ecosystem in Belgium. She studied at P.A.R.T.S. until 2000, after which she spent five years in London, where she became a founding member of the Akram Khan Company. In 2005 Michael returned to Belgium to work with Anne Teresa deKeersmaeker and Rosas, where she performed in many original creations as well as repertoire, and she presently continues to teach repertoire for Rosas internationally.

In 2010 she danced in Babel (Words), a creation by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Damien Jalet for Eastman. She went on to do various independent commissions around the world including in India, China, Germany, Austria, and her native South Africa. She also performed in Mårten Spångberg’s latest creation.

In recent years, there were three distinct touchstones or turning points for Michael as an artist. These three moments in her career directly shaped her exploration, and are the seeds of her current research.

The first turning point was in 2013, when Michael created Darling with Igor Shyshko. Darling was a significant professional step toward both collaborative and interdisciplinary methodology. She was able to really explore lighting design, scenography and particularly sound design as components equally integral to movement. Together they generated choreography that was deliberately not a demonstration of their training as dancers. It was also conceptually significant, as it was the first time that Michael – now a Belgian citizen – was able to deeply consider personal curves and layers of identity.

These conceptual threads were present in her second major turning point as well. She worked together with Faustin Linyekula on his creation of a solo for her: The Dialogue Series IV: Moya. Faustin and Michael travelled to Johannesburg and Kisangani DRC together, exploring one another’s places of origin. Working so closely with an artist asking similar questions about context and what one might refer to as “internal systems”, inspired Michael. They examined notions of visibility and “blackness” in and out of Europe, and considered whether or not “colourdness” in artistic expression is itself inherently political.

The third significant touchstone – and the point of departure for her current research – is her recent experimentation in India. Following several prior professional engagements in India, in February 2016 Michael accompanied 12 P.A.R.T.S.-students to Adishakti Theatre Company for a two-month exchange that was extremely impactful. There she participated in a workshop on Postcolonial Theory, and again she was forced to think about different systems of “brownness” (both literal and figurative), and how these inform her artistic development as she moves toward her own original choreography.

With Coloured Swans Moya Michael makes a series of solo's in which she questions how our various imposed identities influence our bodies and how we move, speak, sing. In 2020 Coloured Swan 3: Harriet's ReMix will premiere in KVS. 

(high-res images which you can use free of charge with attribution)

Performances by and with