Mar 29, 2024

Women's History Month: Week 4

We sat down with Lavinia Vago ⛓️

For Week 4 of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Lavinia Vago — a dance artist, dance maker, performer, teacher, and our incredible Director of Programming. Lavinia has her first large-scale performance work premiering in May commissioned and produced by Velocity Dance Center in Seattle. We talked all things dance, creation, leadership, inspiration, and music, and found out how Lavi balances a 24/7 lifestyle of dancing, working, teaching, and touring the world.

💚 We are all so excited for your premiere coming up at Velocity Dance Center in May! Could you share with us your creative process in developing this new performance work? How did it come to be, and how do you approach dance-making, choreography and getting your ideas out into the world?

⛓️ Lavi: This premiere is part of the Made In Seattle Program, curated by former Velocity Dance Center Interim Artistic Director Fox Whitney in 2020.  I take a very long time to make work, and for this work specifically, it took me years to deconstruct my truths, attempt to decolonize my process and challenge the foundations of how I have always created work (my own and with others). I tried to pay attention to the now - what feels important and relevant to share, play with, explore, and attempt. 

For this event, I started by creating and curating a container that feels intentional, present, and expansive, while being ever-evolving until the last moment before the premiere. Then I asked collaborators from different media  (graphic designers, dance artists, painters, DJs, performers, and sound artists) to join and participate. Each of them is an artist who has inspired me for a long time, and who could help me create my vision with their talent, artistry, and essence. I couldn't even begin to form this world without each of them! I am constantly in a state of research and spend long hours in the studio alone every week to move, cry, scream, dance, explode, process, and think. Now getting close to the premiere I am finally sharing this space with others in this ever-evolving, non-linear process of making performance, but improvisation is our language of choice and we are ready to see what happens. 

💚 Can you give us some insight into the themes or concepts you are exploring in the new work? Where is it coming from and what do you hope to convey or leave with your audiences?

⛓️ Lavi: FKK (Freikörperkultur) is a German movement - that can be translated to “Free Body Culture”. Beginning as a movement against stiff cultural mores and repressive urban living, this movement of the early 20th century advocated a celebration of the body free and unencumbered. This key element is a dramaturgical starting point for the development of several scenes, concepts, and ideas explored in the show. 

I am curious to investigate how much one body can explore and express alone (my love for solo work) and how that changes in a collective journey. Dance is my love language, but I am always curious to push the edges of dance and performance, the body and the mind, the conscious and the subconscious. 

I am deeply inspired by the dance floors I inhabit, from raves to queer clubs, punk mosh pits to underground noise basements, solo studio sessions to Dance Church classes with over 100 sweaty bodies sharing a cathartic experience of joy and release. 

So much more is in this show, and it’s always challenging for me to describe what I wish the audience to leave with. Each choice is intentional and deeply researched, but I wish to meet the audience in whatever place they may be, whether it’s provoking thoughts, a visceral response, an emotional intake, or an internal reaction that may be difficult to put down in words - that is why dance exists. 

💚You are our incredible Director of Programming at Dance Church leading all of our class programming and partnerships. How do you envision your leadership role’s impact on shaping the community and the dance field at large? What excites you about what you do at Dance Church, and what guiding principles or values inform your leadership style?

⛓️ Lavi: I try to guide my decisions with care and empathy at all times. I stay inspired and curious always, but most importantly I never stop learning from others: from my peers, my community, the other teachers in all the different cities. It’s always important to challenge my points of view and my realities, so I can constantly keep growing and evolving. Collaboration is the key to success.  I attempt to solve problems with grace and accept that failing is an option but before anything else, I never stop having fun! 

💚It feels like much of the contemporary/post-modern dance world is dominated by female-identifying voices, leaders, and visionaries. Do you feel that being a woman artist has shaped your journey in the dance field, and if so, how? What challenges and opportunities have you encountered as a woman in this industry, and how do you navigate them?

⛓️ Lavi: The dance industry is highly under-resourced, especially in the USA. There are institutional and patriarchal systems of oppression that are constantly being challenged and rebelled against. As an able-bodied white cis woman, I am aware of all the privileges that I have encountered, as well as the challenges I have to face. I have always functioned somewhat differently than many other artists in my field: I have always struggled with social media and marketing myself, I have lived a very non-typical lifestyle spread between multiple cities and countries, and make work that doesn't always fit into the theater/grant/programming circuit. As my work explores edges of performance that are diy, not always comfortable, or easily sellable, I had to constantly question my sense of belonging and discover new ways to find support. I am forever grateful for my underground music, dance, art, and performance freaks community. 

💚 How do you balance your responsibilities as a dance artist and programming director? Any hot tips for artists who are learning how to balance dancing and making money?

⛓️ Lavi: It helps that I LOVE WORKING!  I absolutely love what I do. I am usually on 24/7, perhaps too much caffeine in the morning - I am Italian after all. I am a Gemini - so I swing between highly organized skills (multiple calendars, post-its, and to-do lists are my passion!), as well as a chaotic everlasting creative thinking process. I think the two sides balance each other out. I spend a lot of alone time decompressing, and lots of time with friends and family to recharge. I have a very active lifestyle, from dancing of course, to biking, swimming, running, long walks, and saunas. 

I won’t lie, the equilibrium between all the facets of my life, from being a director to making work, to teaching and performing all over the world, is incredibly challenging, but an ambitious mind may thrive from her own chaos if passion is the guiding force. 

💚 We love your playlists Lavi — you are always finding the heaviest beats. Share some of the songs and artists you can’t stop listening to. 

I finally unleashed more punk anthems from my teenage roots into my classes! 

My heart explodes every time I play The Blaze

New Jamie xx it’s so good! 


Anything by DJG2G and Lobsta B!

Pop star remixes are going off lately!

💚 Give us the details on your show. When is it, where is it and what else should we know!

⛓️ Lavi: May 3+4 at the Georgetown Steamplant in Seattle! Doors and installation will be at 8p, performance starts at 9p and DJ sets at 10p. See you there! Tickets →

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