Martin is a history teacher with the listless, sloping posture of a comma. He walks slowly, as if every step causes a pain in the ass. His job is not very inspiring; his marriage is falling apart. “Am I getting bored?” he asks his wife. “Do you find me boring?”

Her answer seems to confirm what he already knows: “You are not the same Martin I first met.”

In Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round”, a film about breaking the rules and thus freeing oneself, Martin is one of four high school teachers who decide to test a theory about alcohol: as long as they maintain a uniform theory Level of it in their blood, their life will get better.

The experiment has its problems. But in the end Martin, played by Mads Mikkelsen, finds a release that is expressed in a dance at the end of the film. The slightly drunk dance shows Mikkelsen’s nimble ability to balance daring and control. It fits: he was once a professional dancer.

The dance begins after Martin, who had a history of jazz ballet classes, attended a friend’s funeral and received text messages from his wife suggesting a reunion. He and his friends greet the graduates at the harbor while the song “What a Life” by the Danish band Scarlet Pleasure plays. At first, its movement is a little tentative, full of stops and starts. But as soon as he starts, he throws himself in, makes wide crossed steps, sways and turns with silky strength to the ground and jumps up – while taking a sip from a can of beer.

As his body melts to the beat of the song, it is clear that this is more than a dance: Martin has been given another chance – or round – in life and he is taking it. The 55-year-old Mikkelsen jumps unrestrained and robust through space, hits the air and jumps powerfully before making a spectacular jump over the water. The film ends with him in the air.

In collaboration with Mikkelsen, the choreographer Olivia Anselmo said: “He started the whole rehearsal with the words: ‘Well, I’m not like I used to be, I’m no longer young and blah, blah, blah. ‘And then the first thing he does is go into a slide and roll on the floor and jump up and do this thing where he put his leg around the other leg – like a yoga pose. He just did it. “

Mikkelsen started out as an acrobat before discovering dance, despite making a name for himself as an actor. He was the Bond villain at Casino Royale and Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the television series “Hannibal”. For his role in Vinterberg’s film “The Hunt” (2012) he won a prize for best actor in Cannes. But for Anselmo it is different. “When I was in the studio with him, I didn’t think, wow, this is this world famous actor,” she said. “It was so cozy and relaxed. I just thought this is just another dancer. “

Recently Mikkelsen spoke about dance and his professional dance years, which lasted around nine years. Switching to drama, he said, “to pull out another drawer and find something new,” he said. “I was always more in love with the drama of dancing than with the aesthetics of dancing.”

What follows are edited excerpts from a recent conversation.

How was it for you to dance in the movie?

I thought it would be difficult to get away with a realistic movie – to really dance. In my world it was more like a drunken dream or a drunken picture or a drunken fantasy, but in Thomas’ world it was literally a man dancing while surrounded by many young people. [Laughs]

He wanted the ending to be a balance between a flying man and a falling man, and obviously the dance was perfect for that.

How did you get into dancing in the first place?

I started as a gymnast and a choreographer came to our club. She wanted some acrobats in the background who could flip, and she wanted us to take a few steps too. She thought I had some talent and asked me if I wanted to learn the trade and I had absolutely nothing else to do.

I did a couple of shows with her, musical things, and then it just felt like I had to honor the dance. I really had to learn from the grassroots.

Where did you go to college?

I applied for a scholarship and spent two summers in New York with Martha Graham. Then I joined a contemporary ballet company in Denmark and did a lot of musicals like “La Cage Aux Folles” and “Chicago”. “West Side Story.” But I was trained as a Martha Graham contemporary dancer.

Was Martha there? She must have been pretty old.

Yes. I had the opportunity to meet her. It was a wonder time. She obviously wasn’t a teacher [anymore]but she once came along with her arthritis for the guru she was. She was helped out of the car. She was breathtaking. She had this huge hair. She sat on the floor and watched us. And suddenly she did just one more move – her spine just straightened and she put her nose on the floor.

That’s magic.

We were all like what? And then all the boys came very close because she didn’t speak aloud. She said, “The boys have to jump in the air.” And so we went in there and jumped and jumped and jumped and then we looked at her and she was asleep. [Laughs] But it was fantastic to get to know her.

When did you start doing gymnastics?

I was probably in first or second grade. You have to understand that gymnastics in Denmark in the sense that we sucked was on a completely different level than the rest of the world. I remember a Russian club came to us as a friendship club and it was just crazy how good they were. It was just like this, Jesus, we are wasting our time.

How old were you when you switched to dancing?

I think it was around 5 or 6 when that happened. So I was a working class little boy – almost like a Billy Elliot story. I couldn’t really tell my friends what I was doing. That’s how it is when you’re a working class kid, but when they finally found out I told them to do the math, “How many girls, how many boys?” They all said: “Yes, I want to be a dancer too.”

How was it dancing for “Another Round” again?

It was like saying hello to an old friend. I’m the type of dancer who doesn’t dance when I’m in a club with friends. I’ve always been a little reluctant because I think it was my job. I knew this character was rusty and he wasn’t a professional dancer like me, but he’d done it as a young man, as a kid. At the same time, I got a little ambitious.

Did you hurt yourself

No not at all. It was all good. But it was all adrenaline. I felt very young again, but for the next week I felt very old.

Because you were sore

I was super sore. I do a lot of sport. I ride my bike and play tennis and do all sorts of things, but they’re not the same muscles.

What did you think of in the last dance?

We wanted it not to be about the dance, but about what’s in the character. It’s more than a performance, it’s an internal journey. It’s almost like a close-up.