Susana Beiro-Shelper grew up in Liechtenstein. She knew early on that she wanted to be a dancer and studied dance in Zurich and Amsterdam. After several years as a professional dancer she worked as a project manager of larger and smaller corporate events in addition to performing as a dancer with battleROYAL. This included client communication, contract preparation, artist booking and support, budget management and creative tasks such as costume management. Two years ago she took further training to become a fitness coach and personal trainer. At the moment she is practising this profession full time. This is the second time she has turned a hobby into a profession. Susana Beiro-Shelper is married and is living in Berlin since 15 years. She is 40 years old.
Where and how did you grow up?
I grew up in Schaan with a Liechtensteini mother, a Spanish father and two younger sisters. After my parents separated, I was joined by other siblings and partners. We were literally a patchwork family.
Could you describe your professional background?
At the age of 12, with the support of my dance teachers Jacqueline Beck and Beatrice Herzog, I decided to become a professional dancer. After graduating from the Realschule St. Elisabeth, I started my first training at the Zurich Dance Theatre School, which I left after one year for the Performance Year. At the age of 19 and after the completion of my first dance training I did not feel ready for professional life and added another degree at the Amsterdam School of the Arts, which I completed in 2004 with a Bachelor of Dance.
In 2005 I moved to Berlin where I still live today.
My first one or two years in Berlin were very free and characterised by dance jobs in the independent scene, side jobs to earn money, daily training, and a certain laisse-faire attitude in a positive and sometimes less positive sense.
Shortly after that I met my now husband Brendan and the world. During the first year we sort of travelled behind each other. He had jobs in Australia and the Arab Emirates, I participated in an exchange abroad in Argentina as part of a scholarship.
This was followed by joint worldwide engagements with the pyro legends Group F. During this time I worked more and more as an aerialist and made it my specialism.
For Brendan performing came to an end in 2008 and he founded the company battleROYAL. I was part of the operation from the beginning and will always remember our first mini-office made of a beer bench and makeshift desk. The battleROYAL family grew quickly and so did the projects. My job, apart from dancing, was mainly the organisation and management of the artists. Later I managed the label SLIKK Showacts. I perform less now, but am still active for battleROYAL and Group F today. I gave up the management of SLIKK Showacts this year to concentrate fully on fitness coaching.
Were there certain events or stations that were formative for your career?
I will always remember the moment when I stood in the theatre dressing room at TaK Schaan with Beatrice Herzog and we decided together to pursue a career as professional dancers.
Were there certain people who were formative for your career?
Jaqueline Beck and Beatrice Herzog, who supported me tirelessly between 12 and 16, were definitely formative. They were instrumental in my decision and gave me the necessary motivation. My current husband has also had a significant influence on my career.
Has your environment supported you in your career?
I have always received a lot of support. That was certainly also because I knew early on what I wanted. During my studies in Amsterdam I had to support myself above all and certainly learned one or two life lessons.
Later, my husband in particular supported me in word and deed in all my decisions. We both come from the same industry, which brings a lot of understanding for the sometimes unpredictable direction of one’s career.
What are your current activities?
I work as a self-employed personal trainer and fitness coach.
Does what you are currently doing fulfil you?
It fulfils me most of the time. Every day holds something new. Especially now during the Corona crisis. I find fulfilment in working with my body again and supporting other people to connect with their bodies.
Do you think that you yourself have an influence on whether your activities are fulfilling?
Not every day of work must necessarily be fulfilling. That would be a very high standard. I rather believe that one should consciously devote oneself to an activity, continuously reflect and remain open to change.
What or who inspires you in everyday life?
I am inspired above all by moments in my everyday life. For example, when I’m cycling somewhere and I see the beautiful autumn trees on my way.
This moment has no past and no future, it is a snapshot of the now. I don’t have to interpret anything into it or see a greater meaning. It is simply concentrated beauty that I can consciously perceive. I find this moment of unison very inspiring.
What or who gives you strength and energy in everyday life?
A daily routine gives me strength and energy.
There are ‘magic moments’ when everything seems to fit. Moments that fulfil, inspire and give strength. Moments that confirm that the effort is worthwhile and that what you do is meaningful and valuable. Have you already experienced such moments in relation to your own activities?
In relation to my current job I have not yet directly experienced such a moment. But I work out every day, for example. Occasionally I experience one of these magical moments during a workout. Everything fits together, I am fully aware of the moment, my body and my mind. I feel clarity and my mind is quiet.
It’s not easy to describe such a magical moment. But I know it and it is my concern to let my clients participate in it through my work.
Are there moments when you doubt what you are doing?
There are moments of doubt all the time. I try to give these moments space and time. Maybe just being thoughtful for two days or having less energy. Knowing that it is part of development helps to deal with it.
However, I know that it is not always easy and the doubts can also turn into despair. At this point, support from outside is important.
How well can you live from what you do professionally?
Since I decided to change my profession in the middle of the Corona crisis, I cannot yet make a living from it. However I am in a very privileged situation and can allow my activity to grow organically.
Is there something that is particularly occupying you at the moment?
The nebulous uncertainty of the present time is very much on my mind. I find it difficult to hover in a state of normality and worry.
What are you most grateful for in life?
I am especially grateful that I have so much freedom in my life. And that there are people in my life who inspire and enrich me.
Laura Hilti, December 2020
Portrait photo, battleROYAL Abu Dhabi/ Softlanding: Brendan Shelper
battleROYAL MADSACK: Paul Gärtner
Choreography Jacqueline Beck, Photo 2 + 3: Brigit Risch
battleROYAL Aufführungen, Foto 1 + 3: Marcel Schwickerath
battleROYAL Aufführungen, Foto 2 + 4: Michael Adam Costey
NCHAVANCE: Groupe F
All other photos: private
«The Power of Now» by Eckhart Tolle
«Kids» by Pattie Smith
«1234» by Paul Auster
This interview is part of the project ‘Magic Moments’ by Kunstverein Schichtwechsel, in which people are interviewed about their careers, activities and their magical as well as difficult moments.
Curated by Stefani Andersen and Laura Hilti, Kunstverein Schichtwechsel.
Supported by Kulturstiftung Liechtenstein and Stiftung Fürstl. Kommerzienrat Guido Feger.
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