By Tara Sheena of Dance Informa.
Beth Liebowitz started her company, Beth Liebowtiz & Artists, in Spring 2013 in order to support her choreography and frequent collaborations with musicians. Additionally, Liebowitz has a focus on dance education and is currently pursuing a Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy degree at Sarah Lawrence College. Tara Sheena of Dance Informa spoke to her about early influences, why she will never fully “bloom,” and how she developed her own hash tag: #dancesupportingdance. Excerpts of their conversation are below.
What originally drew you to choreography? Do you have any early influences you can recall?
“I first became interested in choreography as I related it to my own dance training and my early perception of movement as a mode of expression. Broadway choreographers were definitely some of my earlier influences. My home was often filled with show tunes, and I would sing and dance along to musicals, then create skits with music and choreography to perform for anyone who would watch. I can only imagine how awkward my seven year old self looked turning my feet inwards pigeon-toed, pelvis pushed forward, as I tried to embody a Fosse dancer’s movement.
I had an early appreciation for choreography that felt genuine. West Side Story is a gem to me. Jerome Robbins was able to develop and translate the experiences and emotional journeys of each character; anger would become a punch, which would gain momentum and become a turn leading into a jump, and so on. That’s real, and even a child can identify that.”
How would you describe your aesthetic and style to someone who has never seen your work?
“The movement in my choreography is full of contradictions. I will have moments of very quick and tangled phrase work and then complete stillness. I’m attracted to ballet technique as well as how it can be deconstructed. There is a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality to my work, and a respect for each dancer’s artistry and individual exploration. I love the idea behind ‘budding not yet blooming’ and I hope I never fully bloom, because there is something so exciting about always being in process, learning and evolving.
My work has a deep appreciation for collaborating with other artists. Sometimes I feel more like an arranger than a choreographer. I start with a concept, try to understand it in my own mind and body, and then open it up for discussion with the dancers, musicians and whoever else is on the team for that piece. Building a community is an essential part of my process and the part I enjoy the most.”
What, in your mind, is the biggest challenge for emerging choreographers right now? What are the strategies you’ve employed to navigate that challenge?
“Funding and audience accessibility are always on my mind in terms of challenges, but a lot of other interviewees have spoken about those topics. An issue I’m currently passionate about is how different dance communities support one another. I recently started to use a new hashtag, #dancesupportingdance for whenever I post something on social media about a show I saw, when promoting a fellow choreographer’s season, sharing fundraising campaigns, etc. To me, one way we can start to improve accessibility to dance and expand audiences is if we start to support and advocate for each other’s work more often. I am so proud that the people who dance for me are also dancing for other young choreographers, or are making work themselves, and I am always interested to see what other people are creating and have to say.”
What are the next steps for you and your company?
“On January 8th and 10th, we will premiere a new piece called Gateway Dance as part of Triskelion Arts’ Split Bill Series. After that, I hope to get through my second semester of graduate school in one piece and am looking to revisit an installation piece that I showed in 2013 called Looking Glass.”
You can learn more about Beth Liebowtiz & Artists at www.bethandartists.com.
Photo (top): “Looking Glass” by Beth Liebowitz. Photo by Tim Grey.