5 questions for Paul Lightfoot, Choreographer and Artistic Director of Nederlands Dans Theater

Paul Lightfoot.<br />© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)
Paul Lightfoot.
© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)

Nederlands Dans Theater are paying London’s Sadler’s Wells a short visit with an interesting quad bill of works by Crystal Pite, Marco Goecke and the duo Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon. Shows: 26 – 29 June. Full details at…

You and partner Sol León have been creating dance together since the 1980’s – how do you work, who does what, and do you ever argue in the studio!?

2019 will be 30 years of our choreographic partnership, which we’re celebrating and reflecting upon in the upcoming season. In our collaboration, there has never been a solid way or clear recipe of working together, but like any couple there is always a certain amount of communication and non-communication; that’s part of the beauty of the work, the constant conversation. Between Sol and I there is a great amount of respect and trust, but also lots of ego, ambition and curiosity when it comes to our own work!

Sol León and Paul Lightfoot's <I>Stop-Motion</I>.<br />© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)
Sol León and Paul Lightfoot’s Stop-Motion.
© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)

You are bringing 2 Lightfoot-León works to London – tell us about them and what we should expect.

I don’t think I should tell you very much about them. People will see what they see. Both works are emotional pieces, they have a certain narrative but not in the sense of a storyline, and both works are connected as these two ballets are “worlds within worlds”. As with all of our works, we trust in what we’ve made rather than transferring our specific thoughts or ideas. We enjoy the ebb and flow, as well as the space between us as creators and the audience as spectators to interpret themselves.

Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young's <I>The Statement</I>.<br />© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)
Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young’s The Statement.
© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)

Also on the bill are 2 recent works by Crystal Pite and Marco Goecke and the company has worked with both choreographers many times – what’s special about these relationships and the works they generate?

Crystal started creating with NDT in 2006 and has been an associate choreographer with NDT since 2008. Her creative relationship with NDT is important and incredibly special for both parties…. The same goes for Marco Goecke who has been an associate choreographer since 2013. As an Artistic Director there is nothing I love more than a choreographer with a clear message and dance language. Both of these creators are exemplary in that. Once you are somewhat familiar with their work, you’ll recognize it within seconds. As a company we treasure their significant contribution to our artistic face.

Marco Goecke's <i>Woke up Blind</i>.<br />© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)
Marco Goecke’s Woke up Blind.
© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being Artistic Director of NDT these last 7 years?

I have to admit I have learned so much on every level about both myself and the company and yet at the same time I feel like I know nothing. The further you dive into a role like this, the more you become overwhelmed by the choices between the terrifying responsibility and the unadulterated pleasure that comes with looking out for such an artistic organization. Someone once told me, “Trust is good, but control is better.” As much as I can see their point, I’ve discovered that that’s not for me, nor in my nature. I firmly believe in the need for every single NDT member to feel important and self-driven as well as guided and supported. It doesn’t make it an easy ship to steer, but I’ve realized this is who I am and that people always respond well to honesty.

What’s your biggest dance wish?

That it stops being the ugly sister of the arts. There is nothing superficial about dance. On the contrary. I believe there are few art forms that are more powerful in terms of the physical and emotional chemistry that dance can deliver.

Sol León and Paul Lightfoot's <I>Stop-Motion</I>.<br />© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)
Sol León and Paul Lightfoot’s Stop-Motion.
© Rahi Rezvani. (Click image for larger version)

Tell us a joke…

I stopped being funny in my thirties.

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