Interview with Simon Mayer
choreographer of Sons of Sissy

Can you introduce yourself?
Simon Mayer.
Dancer, Choreographer, Musician, Spiritual Being.
Grew up on a farm, landing in many cities, now building my path back to mama nature.

Do you notice a difference in audience between different countries and/or cities?
Yes and no. They all love humour, respond strongly to physical exhaustion and ritual performing and open their hearts easily for folk music. When it comes to the differences: they laugh at different moments in the piece, some of them know alpine folk cultures, others only know The Sound of Music, some are really fascinated by silence and can bear it well and others engage fully in commenting the piece for the entire time.

What drives you to be creative?
Meditation and chain sawing. Observing scared materialist people in their expensive houses with beautiful gardens and refugees on the border to Austria, standing in front of a fence that is not a fence. Music. The here and now. Tantra, vipassana and shamanic rituals.

What role did theatre/dance have for you when you grew up?
A very important one as it was the only place where I could say what I wanted to say.

If you hadn’t become an artist, what would have been your profession?
Farmer. Social worker or Buddhist tantramonk.

What is your interest in mocking worn-out male role models in old traditions during your performance?
I don’t really know if mocking is what I do but what makes me happy is that more and more men realize that there is a woman inside of them (or a female side). Including myself. And that this is nothing scary. It’s just part of everyone that we are more than one thing. More than just a male surface that needs to prove its maleness by aggression, violence, hardness, linear orgasms, goal orientedness, functionality and intellect. All of these things are fantastic but only if they are used like hot chili. 

Did you in the past or do you now have the feeling that you had to free yourself from conservatism and conventions?
Yes I did and I still do. Otherwise I would be enlightened. A meditation teacher once said "if you think you’re enlightened, go home to your family and prove it! If they don’t drive you crazy anymore and bring you to a point where you want to kill them, then congratulations!" Now what does that have to do with conventions and conservativism: there’s always a voice inside of us that draws a line. That creates borders and boundaries, that unconsciously sees a difference between you and me, between a white and a black person, between my folkdance and your folkdance, between a right way of yodeling and a wrong way of yodeling, between a man and a man... I grew up in a more or less open-minded family but in quite a conservative surrounding. So yes all of what I’ve seen is part of me, still in me and part of my liberation process.

What was it like to make the performers dance to old folklore music but perform modern-day dance?
Well in fact what I perform is old folkdances and ritual dances with a modern day body and its physical luggage. Which in the end you might call contemporary dance again because it’s happening right now. And the same goes for the music. By going back to where this folk music came from I found a liberty that is similar to the liberty I find in improvisation dance or improvised music. The way that folk music and dance is often played and danced nowadays is very limited. People started learning it out of books and scores instead of oral or physical teachings. Composers tried to put folk music on scores and therefore it lost its life. That was part of my research. When I finally found old musicians who still were taught in "the old way" I realized that there is no straight rhythms, no well tuned melodies, no fixed scores in there. It’s a much less conservative form and style than what it seems to be or what some people want it to be and sell it for.

What is the meaning of the title Sons of Sissy?
It’s on one hand "sons of the princess/empress Sissi of Austria” and on the other hand like the name of a band. And it’s a word game with Sissi and sissy (like softy, faggot, etc.) so again the male topic inside.

What is your personal relation to folklore music and folklore dance?
I love it, it brought me back to dancing and playing violin and it’s a spiritual practice.