On stage and off, New York City Ballet’s Lauren Lovette exudes radiant warmth and glows with positivity. As a principal dancer and a choreographer in her own right, she has captivated audiences around the world with her sylphlike movement and undeniable charm, and here, she seemed purely happy to be dancing for my creative team.
With the latest collection in mind, Lovette reimagined the idea of boundlessness. She explored the air in expansive movements—like stretching one leg and both arms upward, looking toward the sky—creating lines akin to the refraction of light within a jewel. Visuals of gleaming chains spurred smooth, fluid motions, as if she were moving through water. Each act was part of a meditation on ever-evolving shapes and forms, from the soft curve of a backbend to the artful asymmetry of an abstract stance. To watch her compose her steps as they intrinsically flowed through her was a true experience of living art.
Between teaching virtual NYCB workshops and undertaking home renovation projects, Lovette opened up in the studio about her creative process, and revealed how dancing has shaped the woman she is today.
LS: How has dance shaped the person you are today?
LL: I was never considered a brave child amongst my family about anything other than my ability to keep calm and withstand pain well. If I accidentally cut myself with a knife, or got stung by a bee, I could bravely stay calm and endure these things well. Still, I would never have been the first to try something new....to learn how to swim, jump on a roller coaster, or to speak up in front of strangers. Having to talk to a cashier was irrationally terrifying for me. Heights are a huge no, doctors haunted my dreams, most every movie gave me a dropping feeling in my stomach and I would prefer to go to bed early most nights as a kid just to avoid all of these terrors...
When you ask me how much dance has changed my life and influenced who I am today, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the great chasm between who I was before and who I am today. Dancing has given me courage, self-respect, bravery, and power. I say these attributes not as if dancing has turned me into a human of superhuman strength or a special fairy dust kind of being... but with as much true humility as I know only falling on one’s face time and time again can give. Dancing gave me the gift of touch and respect for the great electricity that dwells between two interlocking hands. The freedom to feel fiercely, and the kind of gratitude that brings a person to their knees.
To dance is to lay yourself vulnerable unto your own will, your awkward impulses: the full spectrum of feeling that can feel unsafe to delve into, and ultimately the truest connection to the present moment that I have witnessed in my life to date. Dancing forced me to stand as myself in front of thousands, and taught me how much grief the heart can hold while still holding a posture of grace with an unbreakable commitment to one’s work, and the skill of learning to smile when it might not be the first instinct to do so.
Dancing taught me to demand better of myself by slowly peeling back the things that made me feel superior to others, and brave the possibility that I might not be correct in all of my viewpoints.
LS: What does choreographing mean to you?
LL: I started choreographing as a dare to myself because it frightened me so much. I wanted to see if I could get braver and more confident from within my own head and signed my name up for an opportunity that presented itself to me. Choreographing has now slowly year after year stolen a great deal of my attention, passion, time and heart... I love the craft for its playful elements. The piecing together of movements, the contrast of possible shapes, the range of emotions, the addition of drama, the use of air and gravity. Choreography is like carving air and splitting music with emotional emphasis in real time... it continues to be the aspect of my creative world that both challenges me the most and connects me the most to humans that I admire.
LS: What is your choreography creative process?
LL: I think my creative process is one of total boundlessness. I don’t put ridges or rules on my work, only time frames. Ideas seem to come to my head from a voice existing outside of my own structured thought. I have learned to playfully solve within this world of unexpected problems, situations, gravity, and time. I love the element of surprise that inevitably arrives with an hour, a human, some music, and a feeling.