Exclusive interview: Vikings star Gaia Weiss on her secret passion for ballet

By Rachel Ingram | 15 Aug 2017 | Culture

Actress Gaia tells Tempus why she gave up the dance stage for the silver screen in our new issue

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There’s more to Vikings star Gaia Weiss than just her beauty. Although the talented actress has captured hearts with her natural good looks, 5ft 9in height and flowing blonde locks, the Parisian beauty is extraordinarily smart, cultured and – most intriguingly of all – harbours a secret talent for dance that has defined her very essence.

Dancing her way onto the cover of Tempus magazine’s August edition, Gaia reveals her childhood dream of becoming a ballerina as she stars in a collaboration with award-winning classical composer Fabio D’Andrea. The 25-year-old trained in ballet before she was scouted as a model in her native France, and ultimately snapped up powerful roles in shows and movies such as The Legend of Hercules and Overdrive.

Mastering such an emotionally and physically testing skill as ballet at a young age has provided Gaia with a tenacious edge. Her graceful mannerisms and inner grit are delightfully obvious in her every move, and it’s clear why her nuanced tough girl characters have transfixed co-stars and viewers alike.

Now, ten years after hanging up her ballet shoes, Gaia is returning to the barre for conceptual music video, Statues, created for Fabio’s ‘Piece in D Minor’.  Art imitates life in the video, with Gaia taking on the role of a beautiful ballerina who dances with ‘statues’ as they come to life. The mesmerising short film could be a metaphor for Gaia reuniting with her long-lost art, as the dancers tell the story of a young girl dreaming of becoming a ballerina, while clever cinematography creates a surreal juxtaposition between the beauty of the melody and choreography and the ominous, dark tunnel setting. 

Fresh off the set, Gaia tells Tempus all about her artistic ambitions, love of dance and reuniting with her ballet shoes...

Gaia Weiss in Statues from Tempus Media on Vimeo.

Tempus: When did you first become passionate about dance?
Gaia Weiss: I started dancing at the age of four. I dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina but unfortunately when the time came to audition for the big schools I was told I didn't have the right body for it, and that I could never dream of becoming a prima ballerina. I stopped at 15-years-old and decided to continue performing, but this time as an actor.

What do you love most about ballet, both as a spectator and as a trained dancer?
To me, the ultimate beauty of ballet is the grace that emanates from a discipline that requires so much pain and suffering. The most talented dancers make it seem absolutely effortless, but so much emotion comes out of their performances. I experience a sense of freedom when I dance. Like other forms of art, it's very cathartic.

Was there a famous ballerina you aspired to be like when you were growing up?
I've always really admired Sylvie Guillem. Growing up I would watch the film Center Stage sometimes 15 times a day – I would learn the choreographies by heart. 

How has your experience as a ballerina influenced you as actor?
Theatre and ballet are both platforms through which you can really express yourself. All my years of ballet taught me the discipline you should have in your life as a performer. In ballet, if I didn't stretch every morning my body wouldn't be able to follow. Actors also use their bodies to express emotions on screen or on stage to embody a character, so my experience as a ballerina definitely helps. It's easy to get lazy as an actor so I'm glad that previous experience made me a rigorous person. 

Tell us about the idea behind Statues’s choreography?
This video isn't just music and dance put together to look pretty. It has a real storyline that we thought about together at the beginning of the process. When we submitted the idea to our wonderful choreographer Christopher Marney of this dreamlike world where a sort of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ character would encounter statues coming alive, he came up with loads of ideas. 

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Copyright ©Solenne Jakovsky

Is classical music, like Fabio’s, a passion of yours?
I love music and couldn't live without it. Not just classical, I love jazz and voices from the ’50s like Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. My biggest regret is not learning to play any instruments.

What did growing up in France teach you about culture and the finer things in life?
Like other European countries France has a beautiful, long history and a very rich culture. I feel extremely privileged to have been raised in Europe and to have been able to travel and discover other countries and cultures from a very young age. It's so easy and quick to go from one country to another. I'm very grateful to my parents, who have encouraged me to be curious and appreciate beautiful things.

As a former model and a Fashion Week regular, how important is fashion to you?
To be perfectly honest I find fashion nowadays to be utterly ridiculous most of the time. I will always prefer the classics. My everyday outfit is a nice pair of jeans in black or dark denim, an old band t shirt, a dark cashmere sweater when it gets cold, and a tweed or black tailored jacket. I'm a strong believer in 'less is more'.

To read the full interview and see more exclusive content read Tempus Magazine