Joanne Zimbler (JZ): Please describe the piece you'll be performing at Celebrate Dance.
Lydia Zimmer (LZ): "Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer then recollects, longer than knowing even wonders," is a quote by William Faulkner that best describes Memoriae. This piece is interested in the transience of memory - illusions and complications that emerge out of remembering details of the past. Memories are biased and we color them appropriately with how we are presently. With Memoriae I created a structured series of tasks, driven by improvisation, and experimented with how the mind and body reaches a level of memorization. From there I try to use the movement memory and shift it to a different imprint. As a dancer I experience many sensations associated with particular memorized movement feelings, much like taste and smell triggers memory recall. As an audience member I can only hope that one would relate to these unspoken feelings of memory types through the visual.
JZ: As a newcomer to LA, what do you think local audiences should know about you?
LZ: Local audiences should know that I feel young and have much more to learn about performing and creating. I feel an unending need to experiment and use the imagination to inform movement choices. I whole-heartedly believe in improvisation as a tool all dancers can and should use, and I think it opens up the problem solving brain in ways other movement cannot. Audiences should also know that I am Canadian - it is hard work as a foreigner trying to make an honest living strictly within the dance business!
JZ: What do you think that you will add to the L.A. dance scene?
LZ: My wish is to give the LA dance scene an atypical movement experience primarily in the form of structured improvisation. It is honest, vulnerable and open to interpretation. I was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and moved to Boston where I received my BFA from the Boston Conservatory. My time on the east coast was spent absorbing as much information as I could, and was fortunate enough to receive, from college to summer studies. Now that I am living on the west coast I feel the need to inform my students of these practices and also use them while creating and showing work here in LA.
From what I have experienced on the west coast, which has been limited since only moving here in September, the typical style is commercial oriented and very entertaining. The dance shows I am familiar with are more interested in details and defining the value of performance art combined with experimentation as a choreographic element. I hope to investigate this difference while working here in Los Angeles, and being a part of Celebrate Dance 2012 produced by a dance artist like Jamie Nichols is certainly a gateway to experiencing exactly this type of movement.
JZ: When performing, do you often collaborate with other artists? If so, how would you describe these collaborations?
LZ: I have not collaborated an extensive amount with other artists, but the collaborators I usually involve myself with are other dancers, musicians and photographers/videographers. I think it is important to find collaborators that are pleasant to work with and trust worthy. I have worked with Jesse Weiner Photography on many video and photo projects where the results have guided developing pieces, myself as a dance artist and also for the press. The German composer Marsen Jules and I are looking forward to future collaborations, and I am currently involved in a project with two other very talented dancers in LA.
JZ: Do you perform with other groups? Please describe your experiences with these groups.
LZ: Since graduating in May of 2011, I have mostly been performing as a soloist for several shows in California. Recently I have come together with two other dancers (Sara Silkin & Dorothy Chen) and we are in the process of forming a show to be presented in early summer.
JZ: You have trained with Alvin Ailey and Canada's National Ballet School amongst many other companies. Which schools informed your aesthetics sensibilities the most and how do they influence your improvisational work today?
LZ: Walnut Hill School of the Arts and the Boston Conservatory supported my foundational ballet technique in addition to Limon, Horton and Graham. My training at Springboard Danse Montreal and the Movement Invention Project in NYC really helped shape the movement I gravitate towards today. These programs challenge your ability to learn and remember choreography in a short time span in addition to testing your creativity. Specifically for improvisation I have been briefly educated in Forsythe improvisational techniques, Continuum technique, and contact improvisation. Of course there are several choreographers who I have spent time with that have their own sense of improvisation and taught us their lessons as well. The choreographers I worked with were so inspiring and interested in movement investigation on their own bodies and were not limited to a certain mind set. The training I received in Montreal and NYC made individuals focus in on their own movement vocabulary, and because of this I now try to create my own improvisational work today.
JZ: What types of classes do you teach at Talent Lab and how would you describe them?
LZ: Currently I teach ballet at Talent Lab. My classes are tuned to the students' needs within the classical technique, focusing on strength and problem solving. I try to give my students puzzling exercises and enjoy providing them with bits of commonsense anatomical information so they can grow up to be 'smart dancers.' I tell them to steer away from looking in the mirror, 'the mirror does not know how you feel,' and I tell them to dance and enjoy themselves because it is their passion and they love it.
JZ: What is the most important thing that you'd like the audience to pay attention to at your Celebrate Dance debut?
LZ: I believe some audience members may think the solo is fully choreographed. It is not. However, I do have a set blueprint and tasks to guide me throughout the piece. What happens within the task is improvisation. For the movement, I think audiences should really pay attention to the details that I try to incorporate on my body, and I hope they also feel the connection that I feel to the music while I'm dancing. Audiences should also recognize that Jamie really put herself out there by adding me as a last minute act to her self-produced show, and I am forever grateful for this amazing opportunity.
JZ: Also is there a message or theme that audiences should pay attention to?
LZ: For Memoriae audiences can pay attention to movement themes that develop within the improv – as these themes come about I try to stay with them until the music informs me otherwise. In a cerebral sense the piece is concerned with memory and past details. Connecting with movement as a way to embody an old thought or image is what I will try to be accomplishing on stage – it would be interesting to have audience members connected with themselves through visually experiencing a gesture or body motion that I do on stage.
Photo © & courtesy of Jesse Weiner