Interview with Johane Casabene

Date of Birth:   01.10.73

Where do you live?  Wardija

Status:  Married with children

Star Sign:  Libra

Occupation:   Director of Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire & President of the Malta Youth Ballet Foundation

Johane Casabene Dance Conservatoire, is Johane’s ballet school where she trains dancers from the tender age of three onwards. A number of her students have proceeded to advance their career in dance by attending further courses overseas or actually working with highly reputable dance companies. As Johane explains, “This is a very rewarding, yet challenging career. Until recently, local dancers had no other choice but to leave the island at a very young age to pursue their dream. I myself left Malta at the age of seventeen and from leading quite a sheltered life here, I had to deal with the rigours of the dance world, overseas.”

During her years in Italy, Johane obtained her Masters Degree from the Libera Universitá di Danza e Teatro (Mantova, Italy). As part of her training, she toured with the Balletto Regionale di Mantova and worked with some exceptional artists, such as Jorge Esquivel (now at the New York City Ballet), Carlos Palacios, Paul Maieorescu (Director and Ballet Master, Rumania) and Steve La Chance (known from the popular TV show, Amici). “Training in Italy was an incredible experience for me. It really set the scene for me to dedicate myself to a career in dance.

My main passion will always be classical ballet, although I simply adore the principles and energy of contemporary dance.” On her return to Malta, Johane continued to further her education in the field of dance by attending regular courses in both England and France. Today, she is a Fellow and Tutor of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (I.S.T.D.). She is also a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dancing, Licentiate of the International Dance Teachers Association and a member of the Association Francaise des Maitres de Danse Classique. Over the years, Johane has continued to perform with some wonderful dancers, such as Suzanna Egri and Jean Charles Gil (Director, Ballet d’Europe) and has performed in various dance festivals abroad. Johane established her ballet school when she was twenty one. Her intention was to provide the right structure within which young Maltese dancers would be able to reach a high level of training.

With her students, Johane has directed various dance shows, such as Carmen Cita, Cinderella and La Sylphide. “I am always so impressed by how much talent we have on this little island. I was really keen to offer our students an alternative to having to travel away from their family as I had done.” This was the initial raison d’etre for the Malta Youth Ballet Foundation (MYBF) which was established in 2012. Johane continues “With the Foundation, our students are able to achieve an MQF Level 5 of training in professional dance. This course adopts a holistic approach and prepares them to work as professional dancers in a dance company. I am pleased to say that the first Diploma students will qualify during the next few months.” Johane concluded. Applications for the Malta Youth Ballet Foundation are now open for the academic years 2014 – 2016. For more information, please visit www.maltayouthballet.com or join our Facebook Group

Which was your greatest challenge to date?

One of my greatest challenges to date must certainly have been the production of La Bayadere at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in February 2013 which also included the participation of students from the MYBF.

Who would you say inspired you the most and why?

My father played a crucial role in encouraging me to opt for this career.  Being an artist himself, he understood that it is never easy to embark on something which is somewhat out of the norm. He showed me that the personal satisfaction of dedicating one’s life to one’s passion gives you the strength to handle any hurdles that you have to overcome.

What advice do you give your students?

To practise, practise and practise some more … Dancers need to strive for excellence and be knowledgeable about all aspects of dance. They must look after their bodies and avoid injuries. They need to watch their diet and warm up properly. While they must be happy to work on their own, they are constantly collaborating with other dancers and working as a team.

On a lighter note, what is your favourite pastime?

There is hardly any time for that since I am either teaching or handling the administration for the school. I then need to look after my young family. My husband and I do make it a point to travel whenever we can – that really works as a break for me. I also enjoy spending quality time with my husband, who has always been my adviser and friend. We both enjoy entertaining and cooking and we often have friends home for dinner.