- Three months after Munho go to Germany, we talked about his dance company life through a ZOOM meeting.
(Munho's Interview - short version)
Dance Planner (DP): Hi Munho. It's been a long time! How are you?
Munho: Hi. I'm good, thanks!
DP: Please Introduce yourself to people who see you for the first time.
I'm Munho Cha, dancer of Pfalztheater Tanz.
I started to work here through Asia Dance Audition. Nice to meet you again.
(Munho's Audition clip)
DP: Hey, Munho! It’s been a while since we last saw you! How’s life in Pfalztheater Tanz?
I’m busy with rehearsals, but I have a friend at Staatstheater Kassel here in Germany, and also some other friends nearby in Austria and Poland, so we meet up often to watch performances and help each other out, things like that.
DP: We wonder what you did when you first got to Germany.
Well, the first thing I did was have a meeting with the entire company, because it was also the first time the company had gathered after a long summer break.
We went around and talked about how we’ve been doing, what kind of works we’re planning to make in the future, and the new dancers, including myself, introduced ourselves briefly.
Apart from work, I also got an apartment, did my Anmeldung (address registration) at the city hall, and opened up a German bank account.
DP: It was your first time meeting the director in person after the online audition. How was it?
To be honest, he looked a bit intimidating on screen. But when I met him in person, he was much nicer than I imagined, and he gave me a really warm welcome, so that was nice.
(Artistic Director, James Sutherland)
DP: How are the dancers there?
They all have unique personalities and styles, and they’re all very kind, open-minded and friendly.
DP: Are there any dancers you’ve gotten close to?
Yes, I’m very close to a Japanese dancer.
But all of us basically drink, party, hang out, and dance together.
DP: Tell us how the vibe is at the company.
Since I don’t speak really good English, the other dancers would always explain it to me slowly again, and remind me that “We are one.”
They try to go along with my tempo, and I’m really thankful to them for taking such good care of me.
(Halloween party with the Pfalztheater Tanz dancers)
First performance @ Pfalztheater
(Photo from the trailer of Pfalztheater's premiere "What's next?")
DP: Tell us about the new piece, “What’s next?”
From my understanding, his piece depicts the changes happening to each individual during this era, and also covers some current issues like the pandemic, war, and refugees.
DP: How did you feel about this first piece of the season?
I love being on stage, so I was looking forward to seeing what kind of communication I would have with the audience here. I enjoyed the performances with a happy heart.
DP: Do you think you did well on your first show with the company?
Yes. I think it was a successful show. The audience response was great, and the director also praised me on my movements, so that was good.
For the next show, I think I’ll really need to work on my English so that I can understand the choreographer’s intentions and requests quicker.
DP: It was your first time performing outside Korea, in front of a German audience. I can’t imagine how it must have felt. How was it different from performing in Korea?
First of all, after a performance in Korea, you usually just clap. But here, they like to shout and make noise too.
The audience can even do standing ovations and throw flowers on the stage. It was a very free and casual atmosphere.
(After the first show of "What's next?")
DP: What about the after-party?
After the performance, we had a party at the director’s house.
Dancers, costume designers, music directors, stage directors… Everyone came.
Usually, we would party outside in Korea. But it was fascinating to see how often German people had house parties. It was fun to gather around and eat the food we prepared.
DP: We heard the pre-show “rituals” are different too! How was it for you?
I received a lot of chocolate and letters the day before the concert.
And the dancers told me “Toi Toi Toi!” which I learned meant “Good luck.”
I was so nervous at first.
But when I told the other dancers how I felt, they just said “The stage is a festival. So just enjoy it like a festival. Don't be nervous and do what you've always done best." I felt much better after hearing that.
Daily life in Germany
DP: How are you spending your free time after work?
After a day in the company, I usually just go home to lie down or hang out with the other company members. Haha!
I don’t do any extra practice for now because I’m literally drained every day after work.
DP: Is there anything you regret not bringing from Korea?
I regret not bringing more Korean food…
There is an Asian mart nearby, but they usually sell Chinese food there. There are also not many Korean restaurants, and even if there are, it’s very expensive.
Doenjang stew, kimchi, warm white rice... I miss things like these so much.
I mean, they sell rice at the supermarket, but it tasted different from the rice we used to eat in Korea.
DP: How do you deal with homesickness?
When I have free time, I’ll just watch TV or organize my documents, stuff like that. I forget about how much I miss home if I just keep myself busy.
There is a TV at my place, but it’s hard to understand since it’s all in German. I installed Netflix too, but they only have English or German shows…
DP: You were worried about communicating in English before. Are you still studying it?
Yes, I speak a lot of English now. Funnily enough, none of the company members is German, so everyone speaks English. Also, most of the people in my neighbourhood can speak English, so communication isn’t a big problem.
DP: Do you think English abilities are important for company life?
I think different people might have different thoughts on this, but to me, contemporary dance isn’t like ballet, where you have a set of vocabulary. We talk about a lot of different things in different situations, so it was often hard for me to understand.
In addition to that, everyone has a different accent, so I definitely feel that I have to study a lot more.
Thoughts on working at the company
DP: What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I plan to continue my journey as a dancer.
I always have a lot of regrets after each show, so I plan to try out different performances and work as hard as I can.
DP: What are somethings that you like about working in Germany?
The people here value dancers a lot.
When I say, "I'm a dancer," they acknowledge my work and give me special treatment.
Especially when I say "I'm a dancer at the Pfalztheater", they really pay me a lot of respect and treat me well.
I think this culture is very nice.
And to be honest, having a stable income is nice, too. I feel very content with life now.
I heard that there are many other benefits here in the company, but I haven’t gotten the chance to experience them all yet. (e.g. insurance, physical therapy, etc)
DP: Oh, really? What do you mean by special treatment?
For example, not long ago, I went for a beer, and someone asked me what I do for a living.
So I said "dancer". And he suddenly bought me a drink.
He said he’s interested in dance and actually knew a lot about it too. I think it’s hard to find people like this in Korea.
DP: What about some cons of working at the company?
I don’t think there are any cons. But there are many times where we have different opinions about the choreography.
We have to decide on the count, things like that. So I think that’s inevitable.
In fact, I think some amount of conflict can lead us to produce better work.
DP: That’s a great mindset! And thank you for sharing your experiences with us!
We look forward to seeing more of you in the future!