Mads Mikkelsen is an actor, arguably best known for three major roles on TV and the silver screen. Mikkelsen played the titular role in the TV drama “Hannibal”, as well as making appearances in major film franchises like “Star Wars” and the MCU.
Sometimes he plays heroic characters, but more often than not, his characters have a villainous or anti-hero tinge to them. In “Rogue One”, Mikkelsen played Jyn Erso’s father, while he took a more villainous turn in the Marvel flick “Doctor Strange” as Kaecilius. However, acting isn’t the only special talent this creative professional has to offer. Before he gained international recognition as an actor, this talented Dane had a professional career as a dancer. Here’s everything you need to know about this interesting chapter in the actor’s life.
Mads Mikkelsen Trained as a Dancer With an Iconic New York Dance Company
In an interview with the New York Times, Danish-born actor Mads Mikkelsen told reporters that he entered the world of dance through a background in gymnastics. Later in life, before he became an internationally-known actor, he studied dance in New York with the dance icon Martha Graham. According to Datebook, Mikkelsen’s time at Martha Graham would have been during the summers of 1987 and 1988.
“I applied for a scholarship and I went to New York for two summers to Martha Graham…I was trained as a contemporary Martha Graham dancer,” Mikkelsen clarified for reporters at the New York Times.
Martha Graham was an iconic dancer in her own right, and her legacy lives on today in the Martha Graham Dance Company. Martha Graham’s unique system of expressive movements make choreography in this style almost instantly recognizable, at least to the initiated. However, those who are critical of the style argue some movements are more grotesque than artistic. Graham is considered an important figure in the history of American dance, but she was not always respected in her later years. According to a profile of Martha Graham in TIME:
“In her prime a performer of eye-scorching power, Graham insisted on dancing until 1968, long after her onstage appearances had degenerated into grisly self-caricature. Her unwillingness to let younger soloists take over led her to replace her signature pieces with new dances in which she substituted calculated effects for convincing movement. Adoring critics pretended nothing was wrong, but in fact she produced virtually no work of lasting interest from 1950 to her death 41 years later.”
Mads Mikkelsen Danced On-Sceen in the Film ‘Another Round’
Mikkelsen may not do any dancing during his appearances on-screen in “Rogue One” or “Doctor Strange”, but he did dance during a memorable sequence in the film “Another Round”. Speaking to Variety, Mikkelsen explained the challenge he faced in returning to his roots as a dancer for the film:
“It was a strange challenge. I had a former career as a dancer, and Thomas wanted that to be part of the film —but it was 30 years ago! […] It’s not so much about the aesthetic of dancing, it’s about the inner journey of this character. He’s lost something dear to him, and also gained something dear to him, all within an hour. We wanted that reflected in the dance. I hadn’t danced in 30 years and it was tough and I was sore, but it felt liberating.”
According to an interview Mikkelsen gave to the Scotsman, his training at Graham in NYC was his first time outside of Denmark. That same interview notes that Mikkelsen spent ten years dancing professionally, coming to acting later in life. According to IMDB, Mikkelsen’s first on-screen credit was Danish short film back in 1996.