Archetypes: Michael Uthoff
An interview with Michael Uthoff, artistic and executive director of Dance St. Louis, adjunct professor at Webster University, avid soccer fan and closet Cardinals fan (New York Mets still have him…officially).
What is your current frame of mind?
I’m feeling really great in this moment.
When and where are you happiest?
When I see a great dance performance. Or, when I’m doing nothing at all, and I’m surrounded by people.
What is your favorite smell?
The back of the woman I love.
What is one word that describes you?
For the most part, I’m an optimist.
What did you eat for breakfast today?
Half of a grapefruit, yogurt and coffee.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“That was divino.”
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m a very gregarious person.
What is your greatest weakness?
I trust people too much.
What trait do you most admire in others?
Honesty and commitment to excellence in whatever they are doing.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
I love life. To name one thing or person would be unfair.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be more tolerant and patient.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
In every job, I did exactly what I said I would do.
Which living person do you most admire?
Under the circumstances, President Obama. Putting up with all of the crap he’s had to—it’s a remarkable achievement.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it would be?
Crazy as it sounds, a composer.
What is your most treasured possession?
I like the things that surround me. But, if I didn’t have them tomorrow, I’d be okay with that, too.
What is your greatest fear?
Not doing the right thing with the opportunities given to me—as a human being and as a professional.
On what occasion do you lie?
If it’s something that will not really affect the person in the long run, but will hurt them deeply in the short term.
Who are your favorite dancers?
Rudo?lph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. What they did onstage in the ’60s was spellbinding, and it changed dance forever.
Who are your favorite directors?
Jose? Limo?n, Anthony Tudor, Robert Joffrey and my father.
What is your favorite hobby?
I love doing physical things, but after my hip replacement surgery, having dinners with friends and seeing movies.
Where would you like to live?
I am happy where I am. But, I’d love to live in Florence for six months, and have a home in my native country, Chile.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Paul Taylor, the choreographer. He succeeded for decades and stuck to his guns. And, my brother; he is the most selfless man I’ve ever met.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Mother Teresa— because I’m fascinated by how a person can be so selfless and because she would be a cheap date [laughs].
What is something interesting that you just learned?
My work hasn’t changed since I was 18 years old, but it took 50 years for people to really see it and buy into it. I’ve learned that if you are true to yourself and honest in your work, eventually, you’ll win.
What are you most looking forward to?
To be able to do what I’m doing for as long as people will let me.
What is something you still want to learn?
How to play the piano.
What is one thing you want to do before you die?
See my grandchildren grow.
If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be?
You didn’t do so badly.
Archetypes: Michael Uthoff
Photo credit: Wesley Law