Artistic Director Mavin Khoo

Pictured Above:
Mavin Khoo 
ZfinMalta Artistic Director 

Artistic Director Mavin Khoo chats to us about his role and the upcoming UK tour of ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble's Triple Bill

1. How and when did you first meet ZfinMalta Dance Ensemble?

Mavin Khoo: I began my relationship with Malta in 2004 when I came with mavinkhooDance (which was London based) to perform through the British Council. I subsequently came again in 2007 with a solo performance and got to know the creative community. In 2010, the University of Malta opened its first full time contemporary dance programme and I was appointed to work alongside Professor Jo Butterworth in its setting up. In 2014 the government launched ZfinMalta and I was appointed as its first Artistic Director.

2. What was your job as the company’s first Artistic Director?

Mavin Khoo: It was really about me setting up everything from scratch: establishing the company’s artistic vision, philosophy...identifying the kind of dancers that would employed, the training, repertoire, contracts, creative team, work space, branding, crew, organisational infrastructure and most importantly, establishing a clear 5 year strategy.

 3. How has the job of AD enabled you to grow?

Mavin Khoo: Well the combination of directing and performing is always a challenge and one really has to develop strong skills in multi-tasking and time management. Fortunately I have a lot of experience as a Rehearsal Director (with Akram Khan) and of course, that role is demanding in those aspects.  The biggest challenge has been establishing a working structure that is professional and related to the working ethos of the international sector whilst ensuring it works within the Maltese governmental system; that requires constant negotiations and discussions.

4. How did you choose the work and choreographers for the Triple and Double Bills that you’re bringing to the UK?

Mavin Khoo: The company is a repertory company with a clear brief to develop a Mediterranean identity. One of the things I feel is problematic sometimes with rep companies is the tendency to choose too many different choreographic approaches in the name of versatility. Dancers never have the time to really investigate deeply.

Whilst we do have a range of choreographers, it’s important that the company provides a platform for emerging Maltese choreographers to gain experience.  I established 3 main choreographic strands from the beginning. The main works performed by the company are by me and our Associate Choreographer Ivan Perez Aviles and Associate Artist Jose Agudo. I was particularly interested in Ivan and Jose's works as they are really current in establishing a method and style. They are also both extremely good at imparting knowledge based on their work. Furthermore, their identities as Spanish dancers and dance makers brings an interesting Mediterranean quality to their works.

 5. What are you most looking forward to about bringing the company to the UK for the first time?

Mavin Khoo: It’s a young company, full of ambition, and I believe that the investment in quality of training, coaching and artistic mentoring that ZinMalta has committed to for its dancers, brings out a particular energy and dynamism that is unique and yes, very Mediterranean.

I also had the most wonderful performing history with the UK. It feels like coming home with these dancers and sharing my history with them.

It also is an amazing opportunity for the dancers to really challenge themselves with the kind of stamina needed when one goes on a tour of this nature. 

6. And what do you think UK audiences will take away with them after seeing the company in action? I feel that the UK audiences will recognise a rigor and artistic sensibility that is engaging and touching.

Mavin Khoo: We are unashamedly passionate on stage and this really has the capacity to move.

7. How do you divide your time between your duties as AD of Zfin Malta and your other highly regarded work with companies such as Akram Khan?

Mavin Khoo: I am very disciplined with my time management and schedules; it’s a matter of really establishing artistic priorities and ensuring that I am able to give the best to whichever company I am with. There is also a tremendous amount of projects that I have had to turn down.

8. What’s next for Mavin Khoo?

Mavin Khoo: After my contract as Artistic Director finishes later this year, I’ll continue as an Associate with ZfinMalta in order to conclude some one-off projects and also to ensure that there is smooth transitional hand over phase between myself and the next AD.

I will also be performing more and taking on several of the big projects that I have not been able to commit to over the last few years.

Zfin Malta Dance Ensemble Image

Catch the incredible ŻfinMalta and their Triple Bill on Thursday 2 February  at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 (£10 concession) and can be booked online or through our Box Office on 01332 370911.

Catch more incredible international dance this season on Thursday 26 January as Theatre Abosulte and Moving Spaces present the exhilarating and exceptional performance: TRAUM




Déda Refurb  network  placement  University of Derby  Arts Council  Clare Limb  Discusssion  digital  Poet  September  Derby Festé  Course  offer  dancer  cabaret  Rock 'n' Roll  Summer  National Centre for Circus Arts  Candoco  Derby,  Print  Higher Education  disco  Tutor  mood,  projection  Deda  Déda Theatre  Outdoor Events  Udancebythesea  performance  Brochure  Déda Bloggers  BA Hons Journalism,   Coordinator  Bounceback  AGM  Audience  veganism, acro, nikki&jd, dance, Déda, Derby  dyslexia  comedy  Wendy  jive  BBC  Vale  reading  Sky Academy  Relaxation  Acrobatics   Baby Shower  words  Illuminos  artist  Déda Board  Udance  siteline  Foxtrot  inclusive  Ashtanga  Hydra  Hen Party  Back pain  India Festival  family  Community  East Midlands  DJ  accessibility  dance, placement  regular  Night at the Theatre,  Just Imagine Working Here  group  business  Derbyshire   Degree  diversity  refurbishment  T42 Residency  celebration  disabled  Blog  Derby University  Festivals  Southbank  young people  Classes  Fifties  history  Productions  commercial  funding  food  variety  Greek  work experience  anxiety,   Building work  QUAD  student  expansion  START  Simon Armitage  student, work experience   carnival  mythology  story  office  Creativity  Inspiring  Emma  ballet,   Dancing,   Shakespeare  club  isolation,   NCCA  Aakash  Children and the Arts  Poetry  City centre  NCCA  Adaire To Dance  Strictly  event  interview  Icarus  Fresher  Planning  National Youth Circus Event  Knot  Social  Theatre  fun  Meditation  New Art Club  artcore,   ArtCore  University  Journalism  education  Autumn  Dance4  DYDC  Plus One  hubbub  Workshops  Path  actor  Dance  Celebrate  feedback  Yoga  Participation  New Dimensions  Dance Development  Writing  New Year  Children and young people  InCompany  Poetry Performance  Tour  review  Derby Theatre  photo  party  social media  Déda,   50s  Competition  Ben Spiller  ACE Midlands  Arts Award  Routine  Hires  Studio  socialise  Wellbeing  meeting  Dance Career  dance,   Hercules  storytelling  Stephen Munn  wedding  depression,   Shows  ballroom  facilities  Performace  development  Ballet  professional    Circus  Casson and Friends  health,   study  Derby Arts  birds  apprentice  volunteer, Deda, dance, arts, Derby, Derbyshire, marketing, 20 years  Stress  Stopgap  café  Career  Circ Bizerk  disability   Plymouth  marketing  Déda  acting  Choice  BA Dance  Regional  Kathak  research  Creative Living,   Studying  U.Dance  All Dance  Jasmin Vardimon  Michaela Butter  CUBE  Victoria Brown   Nikki and JD  ACE Dance and Music   Stompers  Zumba  Sleep  social dancing,   books  dance, dancers, Joss Arnott, Derby, Déda, Triple Bill   training  Derby  Alice Vale  Dancing  hula hoop  partner  celebrating age  learning  Cultural Vision  corporate  Derby Book Festival  vintage  choreography  Book Club  salsa,   Youth  retro  Danish+  Midlands  contemporary