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Before we pass the torch to 2017’s DanceCrushes we have one more 2016 #DanceCrush to feature! I spoke with one of last year’s recipients, Rachael Lincoln, to discuss her work and her very busy schedule for the past and upcoming year. Lincoln, alongside San Diego-based collaborator Leslie Seiters, received a DanceCrush award for their piece an attic, an exit, presented at ACT Theatre. The staging of attic at ACT was in fact a revival of the piece for it’s 10 year anniversary, though Lincoln notes that the piece started 15 years ago, taking five years to develop. With so much time passed, Lincoln commented that Seiters was at first hesitant to revisit the piece, “so sure and so right that what we would make now would be so different.” Perhaps that is what attracted Lincoln herself, who said “There’s no way we would have made that piece now, but I loved having the opportunity to dive back in and see how even the smallest choices about performing something that’s set—how different that feels, now versus then.” I was glad to discuss the work with Lincoln, having had the good fortune of attending the premiere in 2006. After such a span of time it would be reasonable to assume the work might feel dated, but it escapes that pitfall completely, which Lincoln credits to the exhaustive craft of attic‘s world over those five years.

Photo by Blake Nellis.

Lincoln recalls the pressure she felt to make new work after attic, driving to San Diego the following year to make the film May & June, which has been shown at Velocity Dance Center’s Next Dance Cinema. “It’s so hard with the distance…with our lives now,” Lincoln reflects, “If I could only do one thing artistically, it would be to work with Leslie.” Finding inspiration for the next thing is often trying–in Lincoln and Seiters approximately 20-year artistic partnership, Lincoln estimates they have had 4 or 5 starts. The distance only complicates the creative process, “We are really up against the reality of our lives right now, the stakes are so different now because we have to get funding to fly to each other, and get a residency towards a show that’s going to cost a lot of money.” Lincoln and Seiters’ collaborative works (under their name lean-to productions) involve creating a world separate from the one in which we live, but Lincoln feels that it is particularly important now, given the amount of political and cultural upheaval in our country, to say something relevant to the world we inhabit with each piece.

Rachael Lincoln and Leslie Seiters in an attic, an exit. Photo by RJ Muna.

Lincoln came to Seattle to teach at UW, and has the chance to see graduating students go on to forge their own path, citing her excitement for groups like AU Collective, a group of primarily UW graduates. “UW dancers are smart and have other interests outside of dance,” Lincoln says, describing the movers who embody the campus community she is a part of every day. Apart from teaching at UW, Lincoln is a member of the aerial dance group Bandaloop, a company she has been involved with since 1998. In October, Lincoln’s worlds collided when Meany Hall commissioned Strings, a work from Bandaloop. Drawn to the scale of the work, Bandaloop allows Lincoln the chance to expand her horizons (Watch SHIFT, a dance film Lincoln directed of Bandaloop in Yosemite). And just this past November, she was asked to direct Pink’s American Music Awards performance on the side of the JW Marriott building. Coming off the heels of what Lincoln describes as “the busiest fall I’ve ever had”, it seems presumptuous to ask what’s next. As it turns out, the answer is a lot. This weekend, December 15-16, Lincoln is performing with a group of improvisers called AVID at Meany Hall. In 2018, she presents work at the UW Faculty Dance Concert (January 24-28), in February she’s making commissioned work at another college, and with the rest of the year she plans to develop a new piece with collaborator Tamin Totzke. If that weren’t quite enough, she’ll continue to work with Bandaloop to develop Strings into an evening-length work, and she and Seiters have tentative dates to return to ACT Theatre with a new work.

Lincoln in Trisha Brown’s Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. Photo by Tim Summers.

“My saving grace in Seattle has been meeting every single Sunday for the past three years with four other improvisors. We meet and we dance and we do contact…that sense of consistency and safety and community and touch is how I’ve survived this year.” Those four improvisors are Scott Davis, Aaron Swartzman, Aiko Kinoshita, and Tamin Totzke, who together with Lincoln, constitute the group AVID. AVID performed their politically motivated work GREAT AGAIN at SIDF this past spring after it previously premiered at an inauguration night event. Working with others, be they students, fellow improvisors, Seiters, or even pop stars, is at the core of Lincoln as an artist. “I am a collaborator by nature. So even if I’m directing, it feels really collaborative. It feels like what is made is because of the people I’m working with, completely.”