The Next Director of NDT: Emily Molnar in Candid Conversation
Words by Emily Molnar | Images by Michael Slobodian
Emily Molnar, the current Artistic Director of Ballet BC, sat down with contributor Jordan McHenry for a very candid discussion last month at the opening of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Within days of their discussion, Molnar was announced as the new Artistic Director of the Netherlands Dance Theater starting fall of 2020. Catch the full interview arriving July 23rd on Dance On Air.
On Burning the Candle At Both Ends
I have the pleasure of loving both ends of the day. I do push both of those, but I do love getting up early and having coffee, starting work and starting thinking, experiencing that early morning sensation… but also late at night there is a lot of really great things that stir around.
On Intellect and Innocence
There is such beauty in examining the depths of what it really means to be alive. That’s part of what wakes me up in the morning: to find out the potential of what we’re capable of, the beauty of humanity, what we’ve created and can create. To not touch on that is such a sad thing. But there is something to be said for…innocence. Living day to day and enjoying the simple things in life, but that takes a certain amount of maturity to live simply.
On the Question of Either/Or
‘Either/or’ is a hard thing for me. I am a diplomate that way, I like to see both sides of things. Like I said, I left home at 10 and was very solitary most of my life, I’m very much an introvert that way. But I have had the pleasure of experiencing life with my husband for 16 years. Rilke says, “We have barely enough of a life time to know who we are, and even less to know who we are with someone else.” If you’re a person who has been given the gift of sharing your life with someone it is one of the most beautiful things, when there is love binding you together. I have a very deep love for my husband and that has been one of the most important things to ever happen to me… as well as my love for my art. Imagining life without that experience is hard.
On Balancing Art and Marriage
The beautiful thing about my husband, is that it’s not a relationship based on co-dependence. We both appreciate each other’s lives very much. He’s an incredible support but also leaves me a lot of space. We grow together and alongside each other in tandem. That’s the most one can hope for. It’s not about being easy. It’s about how we can enjoy the challenges. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I was ready to go deeper with someone.
On Other Vocations
I think, if I look at what has been a question for me throughout my time being on this earth so far, is that I really love looking at what makes people tick. When I was considering leaving Frankfurt Ballet at 26, I was at a point in my life where I was really questioning whether I was offering enough to the world through my dance. Was I making a big enough difference? Maybe I should quit dance and study anthropology. I was also very curious about psychotherapy and many extensions of human potential, how we join, how we develop our sense of selves, but something in me said, “no, you can’t exit” No matter where I go, I would still be asking the same questions as I am now within my work.
Being an artistic director, nobody told me how much empathy is involved in leadership: the vulnerability and courage it takes to help, support and develop artists and the people around the art making. Institutional well-being is my greatest curiosity right now. What is collaboration? What is innovation? Is there anything ‘new’ and is that even something to strive for? A question I’ve had all my life is ‘What is success?’ I knew at a very young age it wasn’t about money, a house or the picket fence. Essentially, what was most striking to me was how we look in the mirror at ourselves first, and what we do with that person once we’ve accepted who we are. How do we move forward in life with that person and offer it to the world? To be a citizen? To be responsible? To participate? Dance has been an incredible career for me to examine all that.
For the full interview with Jordan McHenry, check out Dance On Air: The Podcast, coming July 23rd!