The Heroine’s Journey of Tanja Rühl

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Being a freelance lighting designer, I get to travel the world and work in different places with so many different people and characters. Meeting creative and passionate people and experiencing amazing places like Paris Opéra, for example, is one of the many reasons why I love what I’m doing.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? When I turn around in bed at night and hear the person I love more than anything else in life breathing next to me.

What is my greatest fear? Losing someone I love or who is important to me and having the feeling I never told this person what they meant in my life.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Procrastination and the tendency to not be super on time all the time.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Jennifer Tipton, an American lighting designer, she’s will turn 80 this year and is still traveling all over the world to design and set lights for dance, theater and opera. She’s iconic to me. I had the pleasure to meet her twice so far. And, hey, there’s a colour filter for lights, named after her. „Tipton Blue“.That’s when you know you’ve made it.

What is my greatest extravagance? Would it be extravagant to say that I don’t have one? I’m a real nerd.

On what occasion would I lie? Like most people I’d lie to avoid hurting the feelings of another person. But more in terms of a white lie, rather than a deceiving one.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Some people will laugh now, but there’s one aspect of my work I sometimes get very bored with, and yet it’s unavoidable: Focusing lights. The act of pointing each light on stage into a certain direction, size, sharpness and colour. It can take forever, which is also my fault, because I want it to be properly done and that is time consuming. In the end it pays of, when you see the quality it results into.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? Every time a choreographer or director I work with is happy with the result of our collaboration, that makes me happy. When people come to me after a performance or premiere and tell me how much they liked the lighting. And, of course, when on top of it, I can also sit back, look at the work and say „yes, that’s a good one“.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I should have become a vegetarian earlier in my life.

What is my greatest achievement in work? That people trust in me and my work without ever having met me in person, before we start working on a project together.

Where would I most like to live? I’m happy living where I live. I need a real home base and from there I can go and explore the world.

What is my most treasured possession? I’m trying not to link emotional or sentimental feelings to objects. But, thinking more practically, I’d have to say it’s my MacBook. The external brain.

What is my most marked characteristic? That sounds like I’m very full of myself, but people say I’m a nice person who gives a lot of honest smiles.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? When I’m not traveling I divide my time between a place in the countryside and Munich, Germany. But no matter where, I’m always drawn towards nature. Sunlight can be very inspirational, but same goes for the absence of sunlight.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Home. There’s a small pizza place next to a self-service petrol station. They make great pizza and it’s best being eaten at home on the couch.

What books influenced my life and how? I’m reading a lot of fictional and non-fictional books. I can’t think of a book that really influenced my life. I was certainly deeply moved by Martin Luther King’s biography.

Who are my favorite writers? Jonathan Safran Foer, Harper Lee, Bryce Courtenay…so many.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? I’d hope I wouldn’t have to spend this day alone, so I’d listen to „our“ song. You know, that one song most couples have and that means something to them. I’ll keep it a secret though.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? I’m too much of a realist to have one.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? Definitely Nelson Mandela. For everything he stands for. Then there’s Lone Drøscher Nielsen, a conservationist and the woman behind the world’s biggest rehabilitation center for orangutans in Borneo. You should check her work out and learn about what we do on a daily base that puts the survival of orangutans at risk.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? I can’t really say why, but it’s gotta be „Fried Green Tomatoes“!

What role plays art in my life and work? Art IS my life and work. Performing arts.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? Maybe we should ask people who know me and who worked with me and paid me. 😉 When it comes to the partners in crime, there are many.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? No one specific in 2017. But, Robyn Mineko Williams, an American choreographer and friend of mine is on top of my list of people I’d like to work with. She knows, because I keep asking her and we know it will happen one day.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? No one specific here either. I’d love to meet Avi Yona Bueno, called Bambi, one day. He is the resident lighting designer of Israeli dance company Batsheva and I’m a fan of his work. Especially of his way of achieving intense effects with simple equipment.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? I’ll be working with Deborah Hay and Dance On on their new creation called „Tenacity of Space“, premiering in March. It’s an honour for me being able to work with Deborah, who’s a choreographic icon.
She searches for minimalism in choreography, which is a brave approach when it comes to movement.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? Keep an eye on the world of dance and you might come across my name. Shining a little extra light on those amazing people I am able to work with.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? I hope that in 30 years from now I will still be able to happily do what I love for a living.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Life is full of them. To only mention a few who are very dear to me and for sure have interesting things to say: Cheryl Mann, Robyn Mineko Williams, Taryn Kaschock Russell, Ashley Wright,Beau Rocks, Amber Topaz, Mika Spänle, Sharon Davis.

How can you contact me? You can find me via my website www.tanjaruehl.com and leave me a message. I always get excited when a new job or contact comes in that way.

Message of the founder of The Heroine’s Journey Project Peter de Kuster

When you want to support The Heroine’s Journey project buy here one of my books about The Heroine’s Journey.   

You can buy Peter’s Books here 

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