Meet Malta’s national dance company ZfinMalta Dance Ensemble

The national company of Malta, led by international dance artist Mavin Khoo, will be performing for the first time in the UK at the Lilian Baylis Studio this February. We talked to company member Florinda Camilleri about the company and the work they will be performing.

1. Can you introduce yourself?
I am Florinda Camilleri, I’m Maltese and I have been a member of ŻfinMalta since the initiation of the company in 2014. I am very proud that I have received my dance training only in Malta, on a part-time basis. I graduated as a pharmacist in 2012 and worked in that field for two years before I decided to follow my dream and take on dance full time in 2014.

2. Tell us about the Żfin Malta Dance Ensemble, what’s it like to dance for the company?
I never thought that a professional contemporary dance company would ever come into existence in Malta, so I’m extremely happy that it has happened! I am so proud that our young company is working to achieve very high levels of artistic excellence. We are striving to be at the top of our field through honest, hard work and dedication and it is so inspiring to work with people who approach work with such integrity and respect. As a dancer of ŻfinMalta, I am lucky to be constantly exposed to inspirational artists who are believe in us and are willing to share their experiences and artistic tools. I am aware that it is quite unusual for a company like ours to have such a constant influx of highly experienced coaches, so I am deeply grateful for these opportunities we are given to learn from top notch artists.

3. What are you most looking forward to about performing in London?
Our performance will be the first performance in London by a professional Maltese dance company, so it is quite an important moment for Malta. I feel that in a very short span of time, we have managed to build a strong and united voice within the company and I’m very excited to share this with our audiences.

We have been actively trying to understand contemporary Maltese identity from day one. Malta gained independence in 1964. Before that, Malta was ruled by different countries and therefore highly influenced by these rulers in every facet of life. So it is understandable that we are still trying to establish a clear voice, particularly in the arts. Many artists are engaging in this search and this bubbling energy has become very tangible on our little island, making it a very exciting time to be a Maltese artist. We are working hard to bring all the major elements of this newly-discovered contemporary identity into our work, and I feel that the impact of this search is already evident.

4. What does it mean to you to be performing at Sadler’s Wells?
I read about Sadler’s Wells in dance books when I was a child, so for me, the name is synonymous with established and respected artists and dance companies. I have been lucky to have watched a few performances in this magnificent theatre throughout my life, but once again, I never would have imagined that one day, it would be me on that stage! Performing at Sadler’s Wells is a wonderful gift and honour. I will treasure every moment I spend in the space for the rest of my life.

5. Could you tell us a bit about the pieces you will be performing?
I will be performing in Mavin’s piece, Home. Home is a very theatrical production that illustrates a person’s life cycle from birth to death. The main protagonist is supported through this cycle by a variety of characters that guide him, teach him, provoke him and push him to his limits as he struggles to be accepted by this ‘society’. Throughout the performance, we explore very recognisable phases of life – birth, growing up, falling in love, heartbreak and death – all of which are sewn together by a narrator’s voice. This voice brings to life the thoughts of the protagonist, inviting audiences to question the meaning of Home.

The second work in the double bill is Kick the Bucket by Iván Pérez. This piece was created by Iván a few years ago, and it is a duet that delivers extreme emotions. This piece too proposes questions to the audience, questions relating to the consciousness of our existence.

6. What should the audience expect to see onstage?
Energy. Lightness and darkness, love and heartbreak, sorrow and hope.
Tension. Extreme emotions and physicality, odd sounds and rhythms.
And above all, a strong team of equally different dancers.

7. Home in particular is very high energy and theatrical, what does it feel like to perform?
Every performance of Home is different. It is so exciting to perform because the freedom we are given with the piece allows us to dig deeper and deeper into our characters, challenging each other and our audiences too. For me, every time we perform Home, I feel as though I’m stepping into a separate realm of reality, where the only thing that matters is the Now.

You can see ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble — From home with love: a double bill of new work at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February, 8pm.
Tickets available here: