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Monday, 10 August 2015

GarconJon meets Jonathan Ollivier

In memory of Jonathan Olliver, a true talent. His motorbike fatally collided with a car in central London yesterday, he was aged just 38. Only a few months ago I photographed and interviewed Jonny and had vibrant charm was infectious. I feel privileged to have spent time with this truly talented dancer. My thoughts are with his friends and family, particularly two young sons. See the full interview below.

LAB SERIES has sent me on a mission to document what it takes to be a Maximum Man and in response, I've photographed and interviewed two London gents with a unique perspective on perseverance and strength. Jonathan Ollivier, a dancer with over 18 years in the business, juggles a demanding career with two young children - there can't be anything more fulfilling and challenging than that. I asked him about his journey in dance and how he strives to be his best self.

Jonathan Byrne Ollivier, Professional Dancer

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in Northampton until I was 16 then moved to London to study dance at The Rambert Dance School. I've travelled around the world with work since then, firstly to Cape Town for 3 years before moving back to Leeds in England, dancing with The Northern Ballet Theatre. I ended up being there for 8 years. My most recent international adventure took me to North America as after working in Leeds I was hired to dance in Canada for 2 years. I've now settled back in London.

What's your Star Sign? Taurus.

I often hear the life of a dancer is a hard one. Constant rejection and physically demanding, what's been your secret to longevity? It is certainly a very hard career to do. Since I started dancing professionally I have always danced at least 7 shows a week and also tour most of the year around. That is physically demanding. I've been dancing for 18 years now and I've had a few injuries but injury is just part of it. It can make you a wiser and stronger dancer. It makes you approach everything with a cleaner technique and take more care.

Despite the risk and the rejection I absolutely love being involved in the theatre and hope I can continue for as long as possible. The hardest thing now for me is being on tour around the world and missing my two children.

The LAB SERIES campaign is all about being a Maximum Man, what does that mean to you? That's a hard question. I was brought up without any men in life, surrounded by my Mum, Nan and three sisters. I guess they taught me their definition of a man and I taught myself the other while growing up.

For me being a father to two sons makes me attempt to be the best I can in myself and in that sense, a maximum man. I raise my boys to become what I think a maximum man is. One the one hand that's guiding principles of life like manners and respect, and on the other it's the basics of life as a man such as how to shave properly. I guess for me a Maximum Man is an modern mind with old values.

It's almost a cliché to say now, but being a parent is often described as the most challenging job. Fatherhood is certainly something I consider when thinking about the concept of Maximum Man – how has it been challenging and also rewarding for you? Well I think the challenges are the same for most families when children are born. Late nights, early mornings, broken sleep and having to still work hard to provide for them. When my children were born it was like a natural animalistic feeling came over me, where I became their protector and guardian unconditionally. Now they are getting older it is so amazing to have them in my life. They make me laugh so much and also make me see things in a very different, honest way. Only kids can do that.

Describe yourself in 5 words? Tall, Dark, Funny, Naughty, Honest.

What's an average day like for you? It usually starts with getting ready for work. Hot bath to get my muscles warm and a good breakfast with a protein shake before I head into the studio to warm up for daily class. I rehearse whatever production I'm performing for most of the day. This can be until 6pm but can go onto 9pm a few days of the week. I then head home have some dinner and few beers then start again. This is 6 days a week. Unless I'm performing, then there's the show.

Which men in your life inspire you most? I didn't have any men in my life growing up but love films and watch actors quite closely. Of course Jack Nicolson and Robert De Niro are two legends who can't be beaten. Most recently I've become a fan of Tom Hardy he has real charisma and style.

What's your life motto? You build your own boundaries.

Leave us with some words of wisdom… Knocks can make you stronger, hardships can make you wiser.