“Observations from a friend” by Holly Small

Choreographer’s Statement by Holly Small

I have known the artist Lindy Pole practically my entire adult life. She was the costume designer for my first professional dancing job back in 1979. It was about a year later, when I asked her to design the costumes for my first commissioned choreography, that I became acquainted with the depth of her artistic vision and the breadth of her technical skill not only as a designer of sets and costumes, but also as a painter and a maker of fantastical, unclassifiable creations of fabric, paper, feathers, fine metals, glass, dyes, pigments and any other materials that serve her purpose. Lindy is a mature artist with a formidable eye. She seems always to envision her work in three dimensions. Even pieces that hang on the wall invite one to imagine the view from the top, or from the back or the bottom, or to place oneself inside the piece looking out through intricate layers of colour, texture, light and shadow. These pieces hint at hidden worlds, secret gardens. The longer you gaze at them the more they offer up delicate surprises, shapes that might be fish, birds, insects, tiny nymphs and water sprites. Narrative elements emerge. Darkly whimsical pathways open up into the work and into the imagination of the viewer.

To me, these pieces are stunning. The exquisite workmanship nearly makes me weep. Photographs simply to do not do justice to Lindy’s multi-layered, fully dimensional creations that invite prolonged and repeated examination.

I think both Lindy and I find it excruciating to talk about our own work. Neither of us is particularly interested in articulating a theme or message to our audience. We are both, in our own ways, looking for sensory or visceral responses, moments where viewers recognize themselves in the work; moments of memory and feeling which lead subtly to ideas and deeper revelations. Both of us make work that has been characterized as delicate, subtle and finely detailed. Our work shares a certain fragility, a notion that everything is on the verge of disappearing. I think this is a true reflection of the world we live in. People disappear, cultures and languages disappear, species of birds, animals and fish disappear, whole forests disappear. In my own work I’m frequently haunted by a feeling that something precious is slipping beyond our reach and we are failing to notice. I see this same quality in Lindy Pole’s work.

Holly Small
BFA (York) MA (UCLA)
Professor Modern Dance Technique and Choreographer
Department of Dance, York University

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