Lydia Zimmer - Canada



The Dissociation Project

Choreographer and performer Lydia Zimmer arrived in Sofia on June 15, 2017 all the way from Canada, to develop her project "The Dissociation Project" within the frame of  "Derida Dance Center’s Residency Program", a project part of the Calendar of Cultural Events of Sofia Municipality for 2017. Lydia was chosen among 111 foreign candidates for the program, which is held for the seventh consecutive year in the first center for contemporary dance in Bulgaria.

Lydia Zimmer is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, but in 2008 she graduated from Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Boston and then joined The Boston Conservatory Dance Division where she received her B.F.A.  Lydia has trained at different programs in Canada and USA such as National Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Springboard Danse Montreal, and Halifax Dance Association, Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Traditions, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and The Movement Invention Project. Lydia created a number of well received solos and group works in Los Angeles, California, from October 2011 to May 2013, and premiered a piece for Julie Bour (France).

After moving back to Boston in 2013 she taught for Walnut Hill School for the Arts and The Boston Conservatory. She was a featured solo artist at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, and performed a premiere work for Chavi Bansal (Netherlands). Under a choreographic residency in Cambridge, MA, Lydia created her premiere evening length work Bonne Nuit for CRAWL at White Box Art Centre, NYC. At the moment she  teaches modern and contemporary dance in Nova Scotia and dances for Rhonda Baker/ Akenbowe Dance. In May 2017 she premiered a 30-minite piece at the Dalhousie Arts Centre in Halifax, NS, Canada., a project funded by Canada Council for the Arts and Arts Nova Scotia.

Derida Dance Center’s team also chose to support Lydia's new project inspired by dissociation, which she developed within a month in Sofia. What is actually dissociation? The definitions that exist for this concept are many. It can be defined as separation of one thing from another or as a state of exclusion. This may be the separation of usually interconnected psychic processes from each other, which leads to the creation of a group functioning independently from the whole. This deviation can lead, in extreme cases, to psychological disturbances such as multiple personality. Dissociation is also the separation of one molecule into smaller ones, atoms or ions, especially through a reversible process.  Respectively "The Dissociation Project," focuses on expanding these concepts and ideas, and presents them through motion.  At the end of Lydia's residency period the work in progress of “The Dissociation Project” was presented on July 14th  at 19.00h. at Stage Derida.

Part of Lydia's program as part of her residency in Sofia was also a one-week workshop that will be held at Derida Dance Center. Within the 10-hour dance workshop, Lydia worked with young Bulgarian dancers in training from the intensive contemporary dance program Dance PORT Derida, funded with the support of America for Bulgaria Foundation. The workshop with them took place from 26.06 to 30.06 between 15.30 - 17.30. Within the two-hour daily class with her the dancers had the opportunity to engage in a one-hour contemporary dance class based on the various modern techniques Lydia has been trained in - Graham, Lemon, Horton and Countertechnique. Then their work continued by focusing on improvisation techniques based on Lydia’s personal research, as well as techniques such as Gaga, Forsythe, Cunningham and Release. The five-day dance workshop ended with a brief showcase of the material the dancers have worked on during the week. The showcase took place on June 30th at 18.30h in Derida Dance Center


Event final


A conversation with Lydia Zimmer about her new project and her expirience in Bulgaria


Q: You have danced in 3 different countries. What differences did you see in the culture of different people, which also reflected on their dance?

L: I find in Canada and the United States, a lot of productions and dance works are politically expressive. Dancers and choreographers are using their training to be art activists, which is very important for the world in 2017.

Q: How decide to work on the theme of dissociation and how did it inspire you to create your new project?

L: I am interested in how the brain and body process trauma, and I have found that a lot of people dissociate as a way to cope — my project deals with the movement solutions to feeling detached or loosing track of time. 

Q: Which of the two processes association - dissociation do you find stronger and more important ?

L: Right now in my life dissociation in particular brings up a lot of questions related to my movement and practise as a dancer and choreographer. 

Q: What is the message that your project brings?

L: I am still searching for this! I think the closest i see as a message is to remember that everyone is always dealing with something in their life and to be mindful of this. 

Q: What's the difference between being a choreographer and a teacher and being just a performer? Which role do you enjoy more?

L: I love being on stage and performing, my adrenaline sky rockets. As a choreographer sometimes you have to abandon an idea you had and start over, and sometimes your idea works out! As a teacher all of my attention is on the students, and I try to improve their understanding of movement: that the body has endless ways of moving.

Q: What makes someone a true dancer?

L: This is a tough question because I believe everyone deep down can dance. Professional dancers have hours and hours of training to refine their body and articulate the movement the choreographer asks of them. There is also ‘stage presence’ which some dancers seem to have more of. I believe this is an energy that is released on stage and given to the audience. Being on stage is a magical place, it’s like another world! It is important to really live in this world.

Q: What does dance offer that would be useful to everyone?

L: Dancing brings an overall awareness to your body in space and in relation to people and the world around you. It sensitizes you skin, muscles and bones. It is also cathartic and can help you out through tough times in your life. I think dancing improves quality of life.

Q: What's the strangest / craziest / funniest experience you've ever had as an artist? Or the best memory from your dance history?

L: Honestly I think the variety of people I have met so far in my life is outstanding. Whether it was a training experience, dance festival, teaching, choreographing or performing — meeting fellow dancers is a special experience. I feel that I automatically have a connection with someone who dances, it is an unspoken bond. The dance community really takes care of each other. 

Q: Do you find any differences in the perception of or attitude towards dance in Bulgaria and abroad?

L: I can only speak to my experience with Derida, and I can say with confidence that Derida is a special place. It is very welcoming and the dancers in the PORT program are dedicated and committed to learning and growing. 

Q: What will you remember from Bulgaria?

L: You guys know how to party haha! I also want to adopt all of the stray cats and dogs. 

Q: What do you remember from Derida?

L: I felt a lot of creative energy while at Derida and every day I could experiment with new ideas in the studio. Creative blocks can happen often; there was only one day where I felt blocked (it was too hot outside). 

Q: What message would you like to leave behind after you leave?

L: Keep experimenting! Trust your body. 




The project "Derida Dance Center's Residency Program" is part of the Calendar of cultural events of Sofia Municipality for 2017. 

 Dancing Opportunities is Derida Dance Center's media partner for this project.



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