Rachael Lincoln and Leslie Seiters explore dueling desires and personal transformation in new dance work
Living on the opposite end of the west coast from your dance partner can be challenging—especially when you’re attempting to choreograph an evening-length duet. But for longtime collaborators Rachael Lincoln and Leslie Seiters of Lean To Productions, it’s an everyday reality.
“Leslie lives in San Diego and I’m in Seattle, so the way that we’ve worked for a long time now, has been in little chunks here and there,” explains Lincoln. “It takes a while for us to build a new piece, but that collaboration is what interests me … it’s the relationships.”
The pair’s latest project, “People Like You” has been in the works for roughly five years, and will be performed Nov. 15-16 as part of Motion Pacific’s fall season lineup. Created with Seiters’ artistic vision and Lincoln’s theatrical structures, the piece marks an important time for both women: their mid-30s.
“We started making the piece in a moment in our lives, where we had to ask ourselves, ‘What do we want to sink our teeth into next, knowing that it’s going to be a big chapter of our lives?’” says Lincoln.
While “People Like You” is one uninterrupted piece, it’s made up of distinct parts or vignettes. Seiters believes that this fragmentation is a reflection, not only of the years it took to create the piece, but also of the ways in which both women have changed over time.
“It’s been an interesting process of looking forward at what will not be the same and what we have to do now,” says Seiters. “The piece is still in process as we’re performing it, we’re learning about it and we really enjoy giving it a chance to change shape and develop, even onstage.”
A lot has changed for both women since they first started working on “People Like You.” Early on in the creative process, Seiters gave birth to a daughter. And now, Lincoln is also expecting.
“It’s great, Leslie will be there with her 3-year-old daughter and I’ll be there with my five-month belly,” laughs Lincoln. “That’s why the piece has these durational elements, because as we were building it, our lives were happening. When you make work on yourself, you can’t ignore that.”
Despite the bond that Lincoln and Seiters share, there are strong dichotomies at play in “People Like You.” When asked to describe what the piece is about, Seiters recalls a comment made by a past audience member: “an exhibition of dueling desires for recognition and retreat.” For her and Lincoln, the heart of the performance is that tension.
“I think what came up for both of us was this strong pull between two intentions—between our ambitions and drives as choreographers, dancers, and art makers, and our desire to have a family, and the sense of a more domesticated self,” Lincoln says of the inspiration for the piece. “We felt that we were trying to hold all these diverging thoughts at once.”
Early on, Lincoln thought that few could relate to those feelings, but after speaking with other artists, she found that the conflicting impulses to chase dreams and start a family were widely shared. And so, she and Seiters agreed to reference that universality in the title of the work.
“There’s the ‘people like all of us, people like you’ element to it,” explains Lincoln. “Then, ‘people like you,’ which is that desire for recognition, success, and people appreciating you.”
In an attempt to further connect with the audience, beyond their performance, Lean To Productions will host a duet workshop, open to the public on Nov. 16.
“It’s a preference of mine to be in close proximity with the audience any way we can,” explains Seiters. “When we perform, we really are trying to be ourselves and share that with the audience, but we also create a very traditional theater space.”
After working long distance for years, Lincoln and Seiters are excited to finally connect with an audience, but even more excited to connect with each other.
“Distance and connectivity are things that show up in the piece,” says Seiters. “Working from a distance makes us very aware that when we see each other and rehearse together, it feels like a deeper meeting of two people.”
Rachael Lincoln and Leslie Seiters will perform “People Like You” at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16 at Motion Pacific, 131 Front St., Ste. E, Santa Cruz. Special guests Daniel Mollner and Odessa Avianna Perez will open. Tickets are $17/adv, $19/door. The workshop will be held from 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Motion Pacific. $15. For tickets, details and to register for the workshop, visit motionpacific.com, or call 457-1616. Photo: RJ Muna