Some people inspire me so much. The thought of them makes me want to fly,  improve, be more curious… One of these people is Johnny Lloyd.

 

I met Johnny about 7 years ago. I was still living in Saint Petersburg at that time and just started dancing swing. Johnny was hired for Swing Fest, an event by Michaylo Petrov. He was a very different dancer in a swing scene. Johnny was eating tons of raw vegetables and performing the most impressive experimental hip-hop. Next year he came again for Fall In Jazz and I was “given to him” to assist in blues classes.

 

 

That was the beginning of our beautiful and long-term friendship. Personal and creative. Since then we met around the world, teach, dance, discuss art, create.

Johnny’s career as a dancer has a beautiful perspective. Coming from a hip-hop environment/ background, Johnny was dancing lindy hop but has now moved to the world of theatre and urban contemporary dance.

 

Who is Johnny to the world:

A talented and unique dancer, he is touring the world with one of the most successful and famous contemporary dance companies called EastmanSidi Larbi Cherkaoui. A director of his own Sample Culture company and an independent choreographer Johnny choreographed for Koln Opera House and various Stadttheater

Johnny’s latest works within urban contemporary dance field include Traces and Other Tales From the Underground (2016), where I was honored to be in the cast as well works like “Swan” (2017) and Unplush: Flipper (2017).

In addition to that, he worked as a dramaturge and co-director on my one-woman dance piece Radio Hermitage (2017).

The formula to success has very little to do with your current talents. It has instead to do with the amount of time you spend practicing.

Who is Johnny to me:

Friend, colleague, multitalented Artist. A person, who breaths with calm wisdom and thoughtfulness. He doesn’t rush. He is one of those people who walk at the “right speed”, not too fast or not too slow. I am continuously impressed by how Johnny creates his life, makes great choices, eats healthy, builds things with his hands, spends the time to reach quality, educates himself. He always studies something: either it’s color grading, yoga body alignment, vegan raw cooking or furniture building. He is a hardworking achiever, creative soul and one of my favorite people.

I had a walk with Johnny and asked about things that interest me a lot, about success, creative flow, the perfect team and why things don’t work….

Am I doing what I want to be doing? Am I doing what I want to be doing well?

Essentials.

How do you start your day?

When I don’t have rehearsals or travel my favorite way to wake up is slowly. Then drink tea and do yoga. I like to move right away. Sometimes I will dance. Favorite thing to do every day is to work on an art form right away.

Johnny, what is important?

Besides food and air and sleep… Being with people that you love. Having a purpose to affect the environment in a positive way. Constant development. Also, being able to be.

What does it mean “being able to be”?

It’s a state of mind. Being aware of the moment that you are in. Which is not projecting in the future or remembering the past. Which is opening your senses to the present moment?

You never stop getting better.

About success.

How success in your career affects your mood?

It affects me. When I feel more success I’m happier.

Would you agree with this thought, statement: ”today I taught a good class or choreographed a good piece, this means I’m a better person”?

No. I don’t think success means you are a better person. It’s an element and not a defining title. The definition of success as well is quite open to interpretation. My definition of success is my own:
Am I doing what I want to be doing? Am I doing what I want to be doing well?

And if the answer to this is yes then I feel success. There is also a financial success: Am I getting paid for what I do? If the answer is yes then I feel very lucky. That I can live if the things I love to do.

There are some people who in other people’s perception are not successful who are living simple lives. But they are successful in their own definition of success.
I think it’s very important to affect the world through the things that you love. If I’m doing that then I’m successful and I feel good about myself.

About failing.

Interesting how you say these things are not who you are, not you. It’s an occupation. If there is something going wrong in one of the areas that you are occupied with would you say that it’s you who is failing?

No, I wouldn’t say I’m failing. There are many reasons why things don’t work. One of the reasons could be the environment that this thing is trying to exist in. And it’s going to be very hard to grow an avocado tree in Holland. If you are failing to grow an avocado tree in Holland, should you be upset with yourself? You need the right environment and the right timing.
Also, the things that I’m trying to do and not accomplishing are leading me to the next thing that eventually I’m accomplishing because I never stop until the things I’m trying to do are working.

About teams.

How difficult is it to find people, the team, to work with: dancers, designers, managers etc?

The thing which is difficult is not to find people with talent, but people whose working and mentality harmonize with my own. I am a manic worker and I work because I love the thing I do. And money is an effect and not the cause.
A lot of it is networking. But it’s also a matter of collecting. I do not audition. I find people around the planet and I store them in a database for possibilities in the future. Like you, Ksenia. We were planning to work together for so many years. And finally, we do a work together. I think it’s an art form to combine the personalities to be working with. Not just the people you want to be working with, but also people whose personalities create something more than the elements when they get mixed together.

How important is the financial element in the artistic/creative world today?

It depends where you are coming from. At the place where I am right now, which is having a big desire to show pieces in theatre for an audience – it’s very important. We also want to respect the dancers. And to pay our dancers.
There are other situations where up and coming people just have a desire to meet and create. Then money is less important. Depends on where the theatre is, where the platform is.

About Choreography.

You started to work so much as a choreographer in big theatres, opera houses, so when you are asked to make a choreography, probably you are given a theme, the name, the idea, right? So when does the imaginary world of choreography start to develop in your head? How does the creative flow happen?

It depends if the choreography has a story, a narrative. Or just has a theme or maybe it is abstract and even beyond having a subject. Whatever the answer is, I usually imagine it on my own. While traveling, while having a drink in a cafe. And I find certain pictures, something that moves me. I see if other pictures grow around that picture.

And if they do, then I understand that it was a good idea. Eventually even before I start working with the dancers I see the beginning, the end. I see much of the curves in between those two points.

So you don’t mostly think with the moves but instead with the whole visual picture, am I right?

I don’t think of the specific moves so much. But I do think of specific images. If I am watching a piece in my mind, that I haven’t started working with. I can watch it, but I don’t know what the individual steps are going to be necessary. Sometimes I create specific steps though. Or even the framework around the steps which the dancers fill in. But yes, more I see the pictures.

Pearls of wisdom.

The last question, think of the 3 most important pearls of wisdom for a dancer?

 

1. You never stop getting better.
2. It’s as much about your mind as it is about your body.
3. The formula to success has very little to do with your current talents. It has instead to do with the amount of time you spend practicing. The quality that you practice. The spectrum of influences that you are allowing

As well, I would add… Have a hustle. Have another business. Have another way to earn. Hardly ever dancing is the main thing to earn.

But what about me? I am earning with my dancing.

You are earning with teaching. Teaching is a hustle.

4. And the last, take care of your body. Finding a good base of physical health is important. For me it is yoga. I have diet as a good base for a long time. It is a lifestyle of taking care of your nutrition.

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