A dancer for over sixty years, Lucia August was formerly a company member of the beloved Bay area dance company, Dandelion Dancetheater, and has several times performed her unique style of storytelling in movement at the Edinburgh Fringe, where reviewers described her as “a dancer of tremendous joy.”
Her work has been described by Anna Halprin (a dancer, teacher, and choreographer often referred to as the Mother of Post-Modern Dance) as “stunning and excellent.”
As a plus sized dancer who has met her share of disparaging critics and teachers, Lucia has devoted her career to promoting the simple truth that “everybody can dance.”
“Speaking From The Body,” which Lucia will perform at the San Francisco International Arts Festival, is a one-woman show that includes old favorites and new works, including the world premiere of “Hermit” and four additional stories.
In the following interview with TheatreStorm’s editor, she talks about her experiences, her influences, and her vision.
How would you describe your work?
In general, I do intimate storytelling in movement and spoken word. There are different stories that I tell — in this production, there are five. They cover various topics. Some are autobiographical and others build on the imagination of the audience. I use a lot of music, ranging from The Grateful Dead to original compositions by Bandelion’s Eric Kupers. It’s a wide-ranging exploration of various subjects.
These stories are informed by a variety of experiences I’ve had in life. I call them “angst” experiences. It’s not always obvious when you see the pieces, but they are all about how I’ve worked through difficult times.
A lot of it has to do with my life as a lesbian, I think I find myself more on the edge and more willing to explore things that people might not want to explore. There is also the feeling of being excluded—I came out more than 40 years ago, and that was a time when it was very difficult. I process that experience through my work. If that were not my experience, my work would be very different.
Another important experience has been living as a plus size dancer. I encountered so much rejection and despair because of this. That too is an important experience that I process through my work. Being plus size informs my work on an ongoing basis. I’m always wondering how people receive me. And, on top of that, I’m 66 years old. I don’t fit the standard at all. Some folks think I walk on water and others see me dance and wonder, “What the hell kind of crazy dyke is this?”
What are some of your influences?
One is certainly Erik Kupers of Bandelion Dance Theatre. He asked me to join the company and was always supportive: I call him my dance mentor and younger brother. He has always been an ear for my angst and my processing, and he doesn’t care about how big I am—in fact, he loves plus size dancers. Ana Halprin has also been very important as well–one of the greatest teachers in the history of modern dance. I was able to study with her at her home studio in Kentfield, only a few years ago. She was already an octogenarian, but her teaching was incredible. Her uncompromising approach to her art is an incredible inspiration on how to keep going and work beyond limits. I mean she’s still going at 99! I went to her 95th birthday and she performed on an outside stage. It was beautiful She shows us that we can keep going and keep breaking molds.
How does the upcoming performance planned for SFIAF relate to the theme of “The Path to Democracy?” Or, what are you specifically seeking to address in the upcoming performance for SFIAF?
Democracy is about accepting everybody: all sizes, all sexual variations, all abilities. Everybody means that nobody is left out. My stories begin with self-acceptance and lead to radical acceptance of others. That is the path to democracy!
What would you say to someone who wants to do what you do?
I’d say “do it!” Surround yourself with encouraging people, and keep going. And remember: you can start with the smallest impulse, and see where it takes you. Just keep encouraging those new impulses, as if they were little children. Be kind to your impulses; that is your heart. Focus on what’s working and never on how far you have to go.
Lucia August/Everbody Can Dance will perform ” “Speaking from the Body” at the San Francisco International Arts Festival on Sunday, June 2nd. For further information CLICK HERE.
Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) hosts these performances as part of the San Francisco International Arts Festival, which runs from May 23, 2019 to June 2, 2019. The Festival features performances by more than 50 different artists, ensembles, and companies including dance, theatre, music, and comedy, plus various educational activities and public receptions. Get discounts on tickets to see multiple shows by buying a Festival pass. More details CLICK HERE.