CURTAIN UP FOR DANIELLE ASCIAK

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Photo credits to Siena Stone

Date of Birth: 19th March, 1987

Location: Sydney, Australia

Status: Single

Star Sign: Pisces

Main occupation: Arts Administrator

Media-related occupation: Performance / Cabaret Artist

Danielle is a second generation Maltese and Macedonian Australian and a 21st generation Asciak. Originally from Melbourne, she splits her time working as an arts administrator for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and by night, she’s an independent cabaret artist. She’s presented her work at Perth Fringeworld, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Melbourne Fringe, Midsumma Festival, Mardi Gras, Tokyo Fringe Festival, and the Seoul VIA Fringe.

She discovered cabaret during her studies at the University of Melbourne. The show Everyone Wants a Piece of Malta! was her first cabaret venture and she’s now in her eighth year performing. Her last show, Just an Old Fashioned Grrrl! / That Bad Eartha!, toured for 4 years across Australia and she was also invited to perform in Tokyo and Seoul.

She’s passionate about encouraging emerging artists to develop their skills and sustainability in the arts. Aside from her own independent work, Danielle has produced numerous projects, festivals and publicity for groups. She is also the International Artist in Residence for Fondazzjoni Kreattività and Spazju Kreattiv, presenting and developing new work as well as conducting cabaret workshops for emerging performers.

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Photo credits to Priit Siimon

 

In February 2016, you were in Malta actually performing Everyone Wants A Piece of Malta! in Gozo. How was that for you?

I had accepted an invitation to participate in the AiR – Artist in Residence programme with Fondazzjoni Kreattiv / Spazju Kreattiv for Valletta 2018 to develop a work that reflects the Maltese landscape and culture. Everyone Wants A Piece of Malta! was the cabaret I wrote after my first visit to Malta, and I never thought I’d have the opportunity again. This allowed me to double check if the content was still relevant and explore my own compositions and a change in the structure as a more developed and mature artist.

My residence would take place in Għarb, which is a very different place to what I’m used to. For the first week, I used the time to write and redevelop the script. I used it to rest and reset from work life back home to access my inner creativity. The second week’s been more exciting because I’ve been able to network with some brilliant minds and explore more of Gozo and Malta. I’ll also be providing workshops at the University of Malta, Studio 18 and the Gozo Performing Arts school in cabaret. I really love collaboration and very excited about these. I’ll be exploring ‘who am I’ and asking students to indulge in expressing their history, embracing it and how one can put it in a story which others can relate to.

The show also explores Malta through my eyes which many people here can relate to. At the performances, I’ve been able to meet interesting people who’ve led really interesting lives. They were all touched by the show and found it to be the most exciting thing they’ve seen. To me, this is a unique experience. It’s allowed me to dive deeper into myself as an artist and a Maltese woman.

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Photo credits to Jack Saltmiras

 

What was your first impression of Malta?

I’d always shy away or disagree when someone would refer to my background as exotic. When I arrived in Malta, it all made sense. This place is exotic. This is my second time in Malta, but my first real experience of Gozo. I love the limestone and being surrounded by sea. I don’t have to work hard to fit in. It’s been challenging at times. The Maltese are very proud, resilient and stubborn people. They have a mentality that is very unique and despite it being a part of me, I’ve still found it to be overwhelming. I find beauty everywhere. Coming here is coming home.

What’s your normal preparation process before a performance?

Always get a good night’s sleep. This is sometimes difficult when adrenalin is taking force. Spend most of the day relaxed. Just before the show, I do a yoga/pilates warm up and 20 minutes of meditation six hours prior to curtain-up. I start on make-up and hair four hours before. I then have a light but high-protein meal 2 hours before showtime. After that, I get into costume, and 45 minutes before the show, I go through my vocal warm up. I don’t let it get too extensive so that I preserve my energy for the performance itself.

What’s been your biggest failure to date?

Even my biggest failure is successful, as I know what not to do in the future. As an independent artist, I invest in a lot of my own work. There were two shows that I produced at high risk, and had the opportunity to cancel, but continued to go through with it. It involved a lot of hard work for a very low return. The second show drew in a greater audience, but after that I was burnt – financially and physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve learnt that risk is important like any entrepreneur who’s made it big time. There’s nothing embarrassing about it. To admit defeat or a weakness isn’t a sign of poor judgement or failure. It actually shows greater balls, maturity and courage. It isn’t personal. It’s all business and self preservation.