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A chat with… dancer Jennie Lindström

Ever wondered what a living montage looked like? Jennie Lindström put one together out of her entire career and tells us about it.

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Photo by Jens Nordstrom

By stringing together elements from the last decade of her professional life, Swedish dancer Jennie Lindström takes a trip down memory lane with her first attempt at choreography, I Find I Keep I Find. This variation on historical dance is closing Tanzfabrik’s mini festival Perfect Wedding.

What is I Find I Keep I Find?

It’s kind of a retrospective piece: it’s made up of sampled sequences from pieces I’ve danced during the last 10 years. I’m trying to stay as true to the original movements as possible, and to find the exact motions I did when I danced them the first time. It came about because I wanted to investigate the development I’ve made as a dancer in my career, and in the process I began to wonder about the role the dancer plays in various productions: the dancer is caught between being employed to dance exactly the way the choreographer intends, and also inevitably leaving his or her own mark on the production. I thought that was interesting, so I began examining my own performances by watching videos of every production I’ve been a part of for the last decade.

Are choreographers allowed to ‘sample’, hip hop-style, from each others’ work?

I have been in contact with each of the choreographers I’m referencing, but this whole thing has really made me think about the concept of copyright, and who has the right to a piece. You can’t really patent a motion or a movement… I think ideas should belong to everyone, but at the same time, an artist should be rewarded and honored for their contribution. A dancer, for instance, isn’t just a tool but also, because it’s their body, kind of a producer of a piece. There’s a thin, very interesting line in that. You can also say that the movements were mine just because it was my body that did them.

How exactly was I Find I Keep I Find put together?

I’ve selected 25 sequences from all sorts of different pieces, all from productions that have been significant to me in one way or another. It’s sort of a ‘body diary’, and I found it interesting that my strongest memory was of a piece I only performed once, rather than something I did a thousand times. Also, it was interesting to do movements I hadn’t done in 10 years and see the changes in my body since then. It’s interesting to look back and sort of relive what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years: I feel like I’ve grown closer to myself, as I can now recall very distinct feelings I had about the pieces – experiences that I haven’t thought of in a long time. And now I’m just curious to see how people respond to it.