AH: How would you describe your dance style?
SL: Intricately detailed, fast and mechanical on one hand and reckless and wild on the other. I’m most interested in the rupture point between those physical extremes. Robotic and biological.
AH: Dance is ever- evolving. Where would you say your work and style sits within that evolution?
SL: As part of a lineage of choreographers such as Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek, as well as Phillip Adams and Becky Hilton. Pair this with all of the their influences via New York and Europe, and influences coming through popular culture, the Asia Pacific, music, visual art and film, that’s where you’ll find me!
AH: What comes first, the movement or the idea?
SL: Usually the idea. The idea is the roof and frame of the house, and then I start to fill it with all of the weird furnishings, fabrics, colour and lots of knick-knacks – that’s the choreography. Sometimes the making of the choreography tells me what the work is about, and that can only be apparent once the movement is created. The over-arching structure of the work often comes early. The details – the movement itself – are made both intuitively and methodically.
AH: What role do you see dance having in commenting on current social/political issues?
SL: As much of a role as any art form. It really depends on the artist and there are some choreographers who do it exceptionally well. Dance is incredibly subjective though and I’m not so interested in dance work that is didactic or explanatory. Dance is most interesting for its ambiguity and unique ability to tap into difficult-to-articulate feelings. It’s never going to make as clear a point as a documentary or piece of writing. It’s ephemeral. Dance shares more with music in the sense that it can engender immense feeling and reaction. But that itself can be a bit of a mysterious thing. I understand the limitations of working in an art-form that doesn’t use language – but I do believe dance communicates directly. Dance can say so much without being explicit.
AH: Dance in a sense is unconventional storytelling. Can you use three words you associate with your newest work?
SL: Vivid, heartfelt, rigorous
AH: It’s 2027. Finish this sentence. Contemporary dance is …
SL: …so hot right now!
Image: Pile of Bones by Stephanie Lake Company. Image by Jeff Busby