Talk Back with Leslie Scates
Interview by Rosie Trump
Talk Back is interview series with dancers and choreographers. Leslie Scates is the reining queen of Houston’s improvisational dance scene. She is an independent dance artist and presenting BY A COMMITTEE OF STYLE, an evening of improvisational dance in Houston Oct. 27-29, 2011.
Tell us a bit about yourself, location, and company.
I have made dance works in Houston since 1989 but I have been focusing my work on improvisational dance performance since 2002. I am an independent dance artist, work with artists from the US and Germany, and am constantly sourcing new information each season to stay engaged. I have worked with Sarah Irwin Physical Theatre, Hope Stone inc, Chrysalis Dance Company, CORE Performance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre, Sandra Organ Dance Company and many independent dance artists.
Describe your approach to movement and your creative process.
I approach movement from a personal, intimate and small human scale. I am most interested in what people do to each other and respond to each other. And I love flying around with other bodies. I create by starting with a minimal idea, movement score or nothing at all.
What informs your dance making?
Experiencing the world. Physics and gravity. Culture. Emotional and physical intimacy.
What made you decide you wanted to be a dancer?
Two movies…. Flashdance and Footloose. My hyperactivity and a deep love of performance space/time.
Discuss an influential teacher or mentor.
Nina Martin has been a true mentor to me since 2004. I have studied improvisational performance and dancemaking with Nina at the March 2 Marfa lab, and by stalking her and Lower Left Performance Collective. She is honest, strident about clean clear improvisational dance and is a brilliant teacher. She has changed my dancing the most in my career and taught me to share the work with out being stingy with information. Bravery and thinking on my feet….making deliberate choices in improvisation…not just being “free”. Meticulous detail to experiencing and choosing.
Name a few of your favorites: dance movies, youtube clips, books or dance songs.
The Moment of Movement by Lynne Anne Blom. Motown songs and zydeco music. Break dance and hip hop movies are my favorite. And foreign/art films my son shows me that he says look like a dance.
What advice can you offer to inspiring dancers and choreographers?
Be in other people’s works to discover lots of ways of making dances, and MAKE YOUR OWN WORK! Don’t try to do everything in one dance, focus and go deep. Make work that pleases you deeply…and if it does that, then your rehearsal process will be rewarding. That is the biggest part of work, not the performance. If we aren’t having fun in process, and if no one wants to come back and work in my process, then I might as well stay home.
Tell us about your newest projects.
Next weekend in Houston, I am presenting BY A COMMITTEE OF STYLE at Barnavelder featuring nine artists from my national network. Choreography and Performance at the highest level of expertise and experience by Lower Left Performance Collective with members- Rebecca Bryant (MO), Nina Martin (TX) and Margaret Paek (NY); Sandra Mathern (OH); Jordan Fuchs (TX); collaborators, Bethany Nelson (MS), and Lily Sloan (TX); and Sarah Gamblin (TX). October 27, 28, 29 at 8pm Tickets: barnevelder.org or 713-529-1819. Deep smart dance. Come see the show!!