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Coming to The Table: Liz Lerman in conversation with Charlotte Vincent

Liz Lerman is the first voice captured for Coming To The Table, a series of curated conversations with established female artists working across disciplines. This conversation was recorded at Sadler’s Wells, London, 14 May 2013.

Dancer, writer, thinker, enquirer, choreographer, Liz Lerman is above all a maker whose unique currency is the succinct question. For thirty-five years she ran the company she founded, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, handing on the company as Dance Exchange to younger colleagues in 2011, under the artistic direction of Cassie Meador. Liz Lerman’s work is practice as, through and in dialogue – dialogue made in specific spaces, with specific groups of people, whose own practices, gestures and dancing enters the space of Lerman’s making. The watch words of that practice – exchange, participation, dialogue, collaboration, response – have become watch words of our times, in part because we are returning to and re-making them for the times in which we now find ourselves, as she moves onwards to new kinds of collaborations, across disciplines, genres and places.

She is known for her work across generations, for her inclusion of older dancers and older people into her work, as well as more recently for her dialogues with science. Her ground breaking work on the practice critical response has been used in and outside the arts, and demonstrates her commitment to putting the practical methods of art to work in the service of creative processes of all sorts.  Hers is an ethics of making as well as a poetics and a politics grounded in questions of human being, centred on Jewishness and its histories and traditions of observance. What sustains us: in this time, in all times, in hard times? What do we want of our audiences? What do we expect of oursleves? What do we want of others we work with? What do we want to give and to receive? How do we want to be nurtured to be nourished. Liz Lerman continuous to tour, to make, to dance, to choreograph, to question and to write.

Her book of essays Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer is available from Wesleyan. Her co-authored handbook Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process: A method for getting useful feedback on anything you make from dance to dessert, co-edited by Liz with John Borstel, is available from Dance Exchange.

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