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An Interview with Lydia Zimmer of Lydia Zimmer + Dancers about her upcoming performance in Celebrate Dance 2013

by Robert Abrams
February 17, 2013
The Alex Theatre
216 North Brand Boulevard

Glendale, CA 91203
818-243-7700

Featured Dance Company:

Celebrate Dance
Celebrate Dance (office)

Los Angeles, CA
www.celebratedance.org

More information about Celebrate Dance 2013
Robert Abrams: When asked about her upcoming performance in Celebrate Dance 2013, Lydia Zimmer, the choreographer and a dancer in Lydia Zimmer + Dancers answered…

Lydia Zimmer: This piece is titled Lithium. "We have here an increase in serotonin synthesis, yet still highly reactive and flammable. Dripping in silver and burning crimson bright, we dance to rid ourselves of this fright." Lithium is concerned with our conscious thoughts, good or bad behaviors, and how as humans we share our fears and fight off uncertainties until they become just a shadow of the past. There are three members of this piece, two individuals who share the same shadow - the shadow being myself.

RA: I asked Ms. Zimmer to elaborate on the connections between lithium, serotonin synthesis and her dance.

LZ+: The title Lithium comes from its mineral capabilities when oxidized and the fact that it also works as a mood stabilizer. For my piece, I imagine my movement much like when Lithium as a solid is cut open and quickly turns from a beautiful shiny silver to grey and then black. I used this concrete idea as a way to generate abstract movement. For Lithium as a mood stabilizer, it much relates to everyone's life where they feel like they need help in polarity stability, problem solving, being calm, etc., and have given this prompt to myself and my dancers for emotional relation. The shadow I portray, that both dancers share, is the mood complex we as humans run from, what the Lithium should extinguish. In my description of "increase in serotonin synthesis, yet still highly reactive and flammable" is much like a doctor describing a patient, where I used both mood stabilizing and mineral qualities to develop a character that may never achieve stability. I tried to produce a poetic way of describing this to an audience in: We have here an increase in serotonin synthesis, yet still highly reactive and flammable. Dripping in silver and burning crimson bright, we dance to rid ourselves of this fright.

RA: So this is poetry, science and dance all bundled together. It certainly sounds like a carefully thought out experiment that deserves to be observed. As both a researcher and a dancer myself, I find the idea of deriving a movement vocabulary from an element's physical and biological properties intriguing. I was intrigued enough that I did a quick check of the literature. Perez-Cruet et al reported in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics that repeated administrations of lithium salts increased brain serotonin by 15 to 20% and that lithium increased the synthesis rate of brain serotonin by about 80%. While I haven't done an exhaustive literature review, this paper was cited in 146 other papers according to Google. This suggests to me there is a high probability of a solid scientific underpinning to Ms. Zimmer's kinetic poetry. You could do an exhaustive literature review, or you could achieve a healthy state of learning by going to Celebrate Dance 2013 and giving your full attention to Lydia Zimmer + Dancers. (There will be plenty of time to start your Ph.D. dissertation after the show.)

RA: Have you collaborated with anyone to create your Celebrate Dance presentation? Who have you collaborated with to create your Celebrate Dance presentation? What has this collaboration allowed you to achieve that would not have been possible without it?

LZ+: My dancers Sara Silkin and Lindsey Lollie have been very supportive, experimental, and quick to process choreography and improvisation.

RA: In your art that you are presenting at Celebrate Dance, what is unexpected?

LZ+: When I am in the choreographic process I tend to move in a slightly bizarre fashion or what seems to be counter to popular modern dance. This perhaps may surprise audience members whom have not been exposed to experimental movement based on improvisational tasks and memory.

RA: What is "new" or "fresh" about the art you are presenting at Celebrate Dance? How does your art build on what came before?

LZ+: Dancers and choreographers alike usually have an individualized vocabulary of movement they draw from when in creation mode. They know what this movement looks like on other dancers and how it is perceieved from different view points. In Lithium, where I try to portray an idea rather than narration or story line, composing new vocabulary to add to the existing set was a challenge and I hope that the audience will appreciate this step as new. The dance world demands change and constant re-evaluation of what we consider to be new, old and original.

RA: How will your presentation inspire the audience? Who or what inspires you? How will your presentation enlighten the audience? How will your presentation entertain the audience?

LZ+: Inspiration is a strange subject to me. To be honest I don't quite know what inspires me yet, but I do know that the idea of infinite movement potential excites me. I feel that we can evolve as dancers and artists based on knowledge and education of where the dance world has come, to where it stands now. I look up to so many choreographers whom have found their voice and have held onto it through trial, error, innovation and success. As an emotional person, I find it helpful to indulge in movement choices that tend to relate to an emotion in my mind. I can only hope that an audience member will feel that emotion as it would translate through their body and their lives by perceiving my movement as how they wish.

RA: What makes your dance company a top-notch dance company? What is special or unique about dance in the Greater Los Angeles area?

LZ+: Lydia Zimmer + Dancers is a new company! The dancers for Lithium, Sara Silkin and Lindsey Lollie, are marvelous movers and creators whom are delivering so much to the LA dance community. They are both extremely hard workers, teachers and choreographers who are professional and well versed in the art of dance and movement capability. I have been working under my name as a solo artist for the past year and have grown to really appreciate Los Angeles as a place of open experimentation where dancers have a willingness to learn and investigate. As I stated above in that I do not have specific inspiration, I do however really appreciate the beautiful landscape that California has to offer. For a mind looking for powerful and original insipiration, hike into the mountains.

RA: If audience members were seeing your Celebrate Dance performance for the second time, what should they pay special attention to in order to enhance their appreciation of your art?

LZ+: Looking for the minimal, the particular and smaller movements, perhaps would enhance an appreciation for my art.

RA: Do you work with schools or children? Please describe your educational work.

LZ+: I teach ballet and contemporary in LA ages 8 – 18, and I absolutely love it. It is so rewarding to watch a student progress from all of their hard work and dedication to the art form. I believe in nurturing young artists and think that the tough love character held by many teachers is useless and based on fear. We learn the most in safe, open, warm environments where we do not feel judged for incompletion of an exercise or technical movement. Students should be able to create as they learn, and be in a state of self correction through a class as to develop discipline and regularity in their practises. We should always be in a constant state of healthy learning.



For more about Jesse Weiner Photography, go to www.jessewphoto.com.
Lydia Zimmer

Lydia Zimmer

Photo © & courtesy of Jesse Weiner


Lydia Zimmer in 'Memoriae' at Celebrate Dance 2012

Lydia Zimmer in "Memoriae" at Celebrate Dance 2012

Photo © & courtesy of Jesse Weiner

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