Lea Ved creating for ‘Here we live and now’

Dancer with NDT 1 and choreographer

Lea Ved joined NDT 1 in August 2018, after dancing with the RUBBERBANDance group in Canada and the Royal Swedish Ballet for several years. Besides being a professional dancer, Lea has developed a career as a choreographer.

In November 2020, Korzo and NDT present Here we live and now to celebrate the wealth of dance talent in the city of The Hague. For this project, Lea is amongst the upcoming choreographers that are invited to create a short performance and present this on the Korzo stage. In this interview, the American dancer and creator talks about how the two creative expressions of being a dancer and choreographer enrich each other, about her process of working on a new piece from scratch, and how to dance with gut presence and trust, even amidst heavy uncertainties.

You have created works for the NDT program Switch before, but choreographing for Here We Live And Now is your first big creation for the public of The Hague outside of your work for NDT, is that correct?
“Yes, I’ve loved the time and space to work towards a more developed thought in creation than our Switch program at NDT allows for. I’ve choreographed for the public in the other countries I’ve worked and lived (Sweden, Canada, USA) and I’m grateful to Korzo and NDT for including me in this upcoming program, here in The Hague.”

How do you balance these artistic perspectives as both a dancer with NDT 1 and a choreographer? In what ways to they complement or complicate each other?
“The world I am able to open in my own work actually gives my role as a dancer with NDT 1 much more presence, and even patience. If you could imagine, my creative drives and instincts are often searching for space to be born, otherwise they fester and collide in me, disrupting my work and attention as a dancer. Working on a creative project of my own allows a true part of me to exist and develop. And that full expression of self naturally enriches my role as a NDT 1 dancer. It’s sublime for me, these days, to have the wealth of being able to be both.”

It’s sublime for me, these days, to have the wealth of being able to be both.

Lea Ved

Can you tell us more about your creation: what is your inspiration for the piece, what drives you in the creation process?
“In creation, I draw upon how I sense life. Often when I start a piece I have a mysterious sense of where to move from, based on a particular world developing in my imagination from my writings, collections of visual art, books, sounds, music, notes, etc. Together they naturally become a mosaic of some language of expression, and I consider my role to unearth the heart of it.

Among my collections of inspiration for this piece is the book The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. The story follows an older married couple, who live in an old mystical land that is mysteriously covered in a mist that has taken away the people’s ability to remember clearly, only pierced every now and then with a strong sense of having lived or known something. Time and thought are framed without context of what life was like before, drawing close attention to what the days feel like and are presently, currently.

There is an irony I draw from this story that shadows something of today. We do not live in a mystical mist that takes memory in the world today, but this book illustrates a parallel sense I have had these months, thrown into new reality that has very little to do with anything beforehand, these days somehow bringing its own presence to what is now, what is here.”

Your movement language is influenced by the Rubberbandance Method by choreographer Victor Quijada, work you have studied/trained during your time in Canada. Can you elaborate a bit more on that, what is the importance of this movement language in the way you approach dance and the moving body? How does this influence the way you work with your dancers?
“No doubt my movement language, my person, my artist is influenced by the three years I spent there, and I am grateful for it. Yet more than adopting the hybrid, codified Method that I trained in and teach, what I carry forward mostly is from what I developed and learned in the cyphers, daily practices of circling up and entering one by one in freestyle and improvisation. In the cyphers what came out front and center was physical intuition, instinct, voice, play and largely, trust. I tasted what it was to get so lost and alive inside a state of mind and dance, really dance with gut, spirit, and true presence. And that experience was a sort of gift for me to tap into, and therefore a kind of gift I seek to offer the artists I work with; a celebration of individuality regardless of training or background, a canvas to tap into innate physical intelligences.”

We have paused any instinct of extroversion to instead take immediate and prolonged attention to the smaller sphere of self, or maybe the care of an ‘us’.

Lea Ved

The world is turned rather upside down right now, 2020 is under the spell of COVID-19 and people raising their voices due to inequality worldwide. How does it feel for you to create in the current situation, restricted because of the corona measures?
“As it turns out, the two artists who I am so happy to be working with, Alesya Dobysh and Simon Bus, are a married couple, which alleviates concern for physical contact between them, and allows me to utilize total freedom as I create between them. But it is true, the state of things is undeniable and a natural influence on how we think and create at the moment. I do not feel restricted as much as necessity to reflect in my art, the heart of what these times have felt like for me.

This piece is emerging in a global moment of being right in the middle of something. We are hardly at the precipice of being able to look back and reflect, and we are very much in it, here. And it is still unfolding. Something about how I feel blinded by what exactly this is, where it is going. How I don’t understand something, yet continue to move forward. There is tension and trust, there is autonomy and dependence, there is a ‘waiting for’ and ‘grateful for’ while at the same time a worn out exhaustion of laboring through something. Perhaps alone, but also perhaps with a someone. We have paused any instinct of extroversion to instead take immediate and prolonged attention to the smaller sphere of self, or maybe the care of an ‘us’. And a deeper look there is not without confrontation, friction, and sometimes even a wild freedom of being fully in our own spotlight. Our smaller reality takes its own place in the midst of the larger beyond. Together, in unknown, with little to expect and less to plan for, we take every ‘here’ that unravels. And the world I aim to evoke, comes from these tones.”

What would you like to bring to the audience with your piece? What do you hope they feel when they leave the auditorium?
“All I ever hope to bring to life in my work, is a thread of honesty from the heart of something, reflecting life. Being understood or relatable is not my aim. It is an exceptional mystery, what dance can evoke in others as it finds expression and form. I think it’s beautiful to simply feel that mystery, to feel communicated to in a wordless space.”