Željko Božić Reframing Self Esteem and Self Worth with “Letter”

Željko Božić is one of the most awarded Slovenian dancers and choreographers. His work has won over hundred titles in national, European and world events organized by various Dance Organizations and festivals. IDO (International Dance Organization) awarded him with Hall of fame award for Outstanding Choreography Achievements.

He started as a latin-american and ballroom dancer, been a member of Slovenian national team, but than also expanded his knowledge with jazz ballet and show dance. He has also been exposed to modern and contemporary dance. His prime dance orientation nevertheless is street style dancing. He has been sharing his extensive knowledge since 1996 and has given workshops in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Austria, Norway and big camps like Urban Dance Camp, SDK, Beat Camp, Adria Dance Camp.

He is also known for his commercial work, doing choreographies and performances for over twenty musicians, choreographed and danced for Slovenian Eurosong contest delegation in Belgrade, done tv adds (Henkel, Simobil, NLB bank), danced in all Slovenian TV shows, and has choreographed for Slovenian talent search Popstars addition.

Željko also created four full length commercial dancing shows, full length hip hop theatre production “Let’s make a show” (2011) and choreographed original musical “Change” (2014) for Sarajevo War Theatre. In 2016 he premiered new dance theatre production “Dream Job” in Slovenian best known cultural establishment Cankarjev dom, and “Heroes from the Scrap Yard” for theatre in Novo Mesto.

His new video project “Letter” has been an international sensation.

Željko Božić (Photo by Aljoša Rebolj)

Hollywood Insider Interview with Dancer Željko Božić

Hollywood World: What is your life philosophy? What makes you YOU?

Željko Božić: Long ago I’ve tried dancing shoes … and I still wear them … whenever and wherever – this could my philosophy. Of course not everything revolves around dancing in my life, but I can say for sure, that dancing has made me a better man.

Hollywood World: What inspires you to dance? What message do you want to convey?

Željko Božić: I was around eight or nine years old when I first saw a music video from Twisted Sister “We’re not gonna take it”. I can still remember how this music made me jump on the bed uncontrollably. So it could be the music, could be a strong emotional state that I’m in, could be the message or an idea, that I would like to share. Messages change from project to project but they are usually a reflection of things happening around or in me.

Hollywood World: What is your latest project “Letter” about? What do you want others to know about it?

Željko Božić: Two years ago I wrote this text. I couldn’t sleep and around 4 in the morning these words started to appear in my mind. It was strange because English is not my first language. I always wanted to do something with it and this year I found a way how. I made choreography to the words and together with my team we performed it and taped it. Till this day the video titled “Letter” got shared more than 9000 times on Facebook and really touched a lot of people from all over the world.

It is about dancing, but it’s about life too. It has to do with self esteem and self worth. A lot of people face these insecurities daily but don’t speak about them since they are often considered as a weakness. I just wanted to say that I too deal with this doubts and that we are in this together.

Hollywood World: What is something that keeps you strong when facing challenges?

Željko Božić: One thing is my physical strength and the other is my successful past experiences, which are reassuring me that I can trust myself. The third would be believing in my team.

Hollywood World: What are your favorite projects you have been part of?

Željko Božić: Last year I choreographed and directed a full-length dance theatre piece titled “Dream Job”. I based it on motifs from different stories that I found in the book “Can I Tell You a Story” from Jorge Bucay, who is one of the world’s most well known psychotherapist and author in general.

The story took the audience on an emotional journey, but it was full of humor too. It follows five workers in warehouse. Through their manipulation of the boxes each shows different approaches to life – they are portraying their dreams and lost hopes, enthusiasm and fears, expectations of the society and individual goals.

Photo by Aljoša Rebolj from the theatre piece “Dream Job”

Hollywood World: What are your personal goals?

Željko Božić: My goal is to keep improving as dancer, choreographer, teacher and as human being and to share good energy and knowledge to people around me.

Hollywood World: Describe your best quality as a dancer?

Željko Božić: I would say it is the ability to convey feelings through movements and dance.

Hollywood World: What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Željko Božić: It has to be versatility – one day you are sweating in dance studio, other you take part in competition, than you performing in commercial or for the president. Than you go on and perform and choreograph for theatre or you choreograph video spoof of president Putin (you should check it out, it’s really funny … ), than one day you are on the stage of Eurovision song contest dancing in front of thousands of people, and the next day you teaching fifteen little kids who still have difficulties in telling apart left from right.

I really love teaching – I enjoy working with children because they are fearless when it comes to dancing. I motivate young dancers full of doubts to achieve their true potential. And I experiment and create with mature dancers and live for those rare moments, when magic happens.

Hollywood World: What was the most memorable experience you had while on tour?

Željko Božić: I have never been on tour, but I’ve traveled a lot. One of the things that still echoes in my mind happened after the workshop I took. When I asked this French teacher for advice, he replied: “I can see you know all the steps, but it’s time for you to start dancing.”

Hollywood World: From where have you learned how to dance? What training do you have?

Željko Božić: I started when I was around thirteen in dance school Kazina in my home town. There I’ve been through Latin-American and ballroom dances, show dance, street jazz and finally around my twenties I found myself in hip hop dance. I still work there and I still take lessons from teachers, pioneers and masters from all over the world.

Željko Božić (Photo by Aljoša Rebolj)

Hollywood World: What has been your biggest achievement as a dancer?

Željko Božić: There have been many, but when I recently got a message as a reaction to video “Letter” that says: “Hello. I’m paralyzed but your video made me feel like my legs are dancing …” I think you just can top that with any prize or award.

Hollywood World: What specific movements are your signature?

Željko Božić: People say it’s my flow.

Hollywood World: How do you see your role as an artist?

Željko Božić: I don’t see it as a role. It’s just my reflections, and sometimes people relate.

Hollywood World: What music accompanies your dance? Any preference?

Željko Božić: First pick would be hip hop, r’n’b, house, but I also can’t stay still to salsa or swing.

Hollywood World: What is your secret?

Željko Božić: I think I don’t have one. I share my knowledge extensively with whoever is interested.

Hollywood World: What other hobbies do you have?

Željko Božić: I love to cook. Kitchen is by far the place I spend most of my time, when I’m at home. I also love to personalize clothes, read books and write funny rap lyrics for my friends b-days.

Hollywood World: Who is your role model?

Željko Božić: Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Bob Fosse, Marty Kudelka, James Thierree, Franck Chartier and Gabriela Carrizo, Jorge Bucay, my parents.

Hollywood World: What makes you feel like a star?

Željko Božić: I don’t have this feeling.

Hollywood World: How do you define success? Any tips about how to be a successful?

Željko Božić: Sometimes I catch myself wanting the project I do right now to be better than the one before and in that wanting I forget that sometimes the biggest success is when you – just being an open human being – can make one person’s day happier.

Željko Božić  (Photo by  Nikola Janušić)

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