LONI LANDON was born and raised in New York City, and received her BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School. Her work has been commissioned by The Joyce Theater, Keigwin + Company, Whim Whim, BODYTRAFFIC, and more. She is the co-founder of THE PLAYGROUND, an initiative designed to give emerging choreographers a place to experiment, while allowing professional dancers to participate affordably.
We asked Loni to tell us a bit more about her process, influences, and goals for her time with BDL.
BDL: Tell us a bit about your training and performance career.
LL: I grew up in New York City, and attended the High School of Performing Arts and then Juilliard. After Juilliard, I danced with the State Theater of Munich and had the opportunity to work with so many amazing European contemporary choreographers. I started to choreograph in Munich and then entered a few choreography competitions in Germany. I enjoyed creating so much that I decided to move back home to begin my own choreographic career here in NY. I started to dance with the Met Opera simultaneously, as I worked on my choreography.
BDL: What three words would you use to describe your choreographic style?
LL: Human, physical, and fluid.
BDL: What drives you to create?
LL: I am a creative being. I do not feel alive if I am not creating something. It can be anything, in any medium. I love working with people to create something beautiful out of nothing. Its a powerful thing to be in a room with people all working on something at the same time. It gives me a purpose, and I am eternally grateful for that.
BDL: What interested you in working with BDL?
LL: I’ve heard about BDL over the years and it shares similar values as the The Playground. The Playground launches an innovative network of exchanges through merging professional dancers, choreographers, and presenters; provides a movement lab that is financially accommodating, easily accessible, and artistically rewarding for all of its participants; and establishes a place for the dance community to grow, unite, and share ideas prosperously. Both BDL and The Playground offer space where artists can connect and experiment. I also knew that BDL employs a different set of dancers, which really intrigued me. I wanted to practice teaching and exploring my aesthetic on Broadway dancers. As I move forward with my career as a choreographer, I do not want to put myself in a box. I want to be able to work on everything that I feel interested in and not just in the contemporary dance realm. Too often choreographers and dancers are placed in a box, and I think that is limiting to the artist.
BDL: How would you describe your process in the studio?
LL: I work in a very collaborative way. I will have an idea and then break it down for the dancers and split them into groups. I like to see what they come up with, even with just a visual idea. Then we will workshop until we find something interesting. I like when dancers take risks and just go for it, even if it’s not a fully realized idea. The studio is like a laboratory and choreographers need time to flush out and exhaust an idea. Then I will usually use choreographic tools to compose and rearrange the ideas the dancers created.
BDL: At BDL, you’re free to work on whatever you want, with no pressure for a finished product or performance. How has this approach affected your overall experience working with us?
LL: I have loved it! To be able to have studio space without pressure to create anything is wonderful. We created some beautiful images and ideas and I will use them in the future. Some of it didn’t work, and that is ok too. We need time to fail, just as we need time to create. It took me a long time to realize that not everything is going to be a masterpiece and having time to flush ideas out is invaluable. The dancers at BDL were so invested in the process and that was really inspiring.