Saturday, October 1, 2011

Morphoses dancer, Gabrielle Lamb, shares her thoughts.

Photo by Ken Kramer
Gabrielle Lamb
Gabrielle Lamb is a native of Savannah, Georgia, and was trained at the Boston Ballet School. She joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal in 2000 and was promoted to soloist in 2003. Since 2009, she has been living in New York City and performing with Morphoses and Pontus Lidberg Dance. Her repertoire  includes principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Peter Quanz, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, and Nacho Duato.  She has also created leading roles in new works by Shen Wei, Stijn Celis, Pontus Lidberg, and Mauro Bigonzetti, among others.  

Ms. Lamb is also a choreographer as well a self-taught video artist and animator.  You can see some of her videos here. 

For more information go to Gabrielle's personal website. 

When did you first begin dancing?

  • I started dancing when I was 4, but hated it because the tights were so annoying
    to put on. So I quit and then restarted the next year.---somehow I got over the
    tights issue.

What style of dance do you prefer and why?

  • I prefer any kind of dance which originates with the intention to communicate and
    connect. The more I learn, the less interested I am in virtuosity for its own sake.
    I want to be able to let go and become someone else onstage, not to spend
    those precious moments worrying about steps.

Who have you worked with in the past?

  • I've been lucky enough to work with a lot of talented choreographers and stagers
    in the past. Some of those are: Natalia Makarova, Sylvie Guillem, Mats Ek,
    Ohad Naharin, Christopher Wheeldon, Shen Wei, Peter Quanz, Stijn Celis,
    Pontus Lidberg….not to mention all the fantastic dancer colleagues who have
    inspired me over the years.

Who do you aspire to work with in the future?

  • Other artists who open new pathways in my mind, no matter what discipline they
    belong to. A dream list might include Crystal Pite, William Kentridge, Robert
    Lepage, Michel Gondry.

Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs
or skills you utilize for income?

  • I choreograph and teach sometimes. I am also a self-taught filmmaker and
    animator. I worked as the company videographer for Les Grands Ballets
    Canadiens when I was still dancing there, and I've also done work for Morphoses
    and BalletX. I'm preparing for a project with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?

  • No. I've taken a few classes in film, but generally I prefer teaching myself.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?

  • Keeping a sense of the long-term. It's too easy to get crazy about a small injury
    that may be gone in two days---or a temporary lack of work---or the challenges of
    learning new choreography. What seems impossible today often improves
    overnight, so I've had to learn to back off being so rough on myself when I can't
    have what I want straight away.

What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?

  • If I'm in the space I'd like to be in, I feel like time slows down and I can be
    fearless. In the best moments I'm very conscious of the sensations in my body,
    and I imagine being able to communicate those sensations to the audience. It's
    like there's a line of communication that runs underneath the floor of the stage
    and branches out to every seat in the house. If I'm not quite there, then I'm just
    judging and chastising myself and thinking about what just happened or what's
    about to happen 5 seconds from now. And I imagine that on those occasions the
    audience feels somehow less connected as well.

How do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your
off time?

  • I don't have much off-time. I always seem to have some project to work on or
    think about. On the less fun side, there is always email to reply to or scheduling
    to do.

    I do yoga every day, and unless I"m really on vacation, I take ballet class at
    least 5 days a week.

What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?

  • I was feeling envious of another artist's talent----and despair of ever being able to
    approach her accomplishments. I expressed this to a friend and fellow dancer,
    who wrote to me,"Use her journey as a template for what you want, the beauty of being yourself and expressing it to your full ability"…

    This really made an impression on me---it reminded me to stay on my own path
    and follow it as far as I can, and not to get hung up thinking I'm on the same path
    as any other single person.

What element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most?

  • I do an improvisation which is composed of asymmetrical arm movements which
    evolve into symmetry. When I'm asymmetrical, my attention is very fragmented,
    and when I achieve symmetry I become more focused, as though I'm making
    a new connection between already existing ideas in my mind. This for me is an
    interesting physical expression of the way that consciousness and creativity
    work: disconnected streams of thought which with practice can become focused
    and aligned.

What is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process
thus far?

  • The best part of the experience thus far has been working with a group in which
    every single person has something truly special and different to offer. I've been
    working a long time, and I can say that it's pretty rare to be in a group where I
    can watch and be inspired by everybody. Every day in class and rehearsals I
    see coordination and phrasing that I'd like to steal and try to make work on my
    own body.

For more information on Morphoses's production of Bacchae go to:

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