Dancer and actress Clemmie Sveaas will be joining HeadSpaceDance when they take to the stage for Stepmother/Stepfather this week. We spoke to Clemmie to learn more about her life and inspirations as an artist:
– Why do you do what you do?
At the age of 14, an ex Ballet Dancer called Bryany Brind told me I should think about training seriously. Before that point I had only danced as a hobby. Since then I have followed my instinct. So far it’s lead to a full and fruitful career. It was never really ‘a plan’ but just seems to be the way it’s turned out…. Long may it last!
– How do you work?
My ideal way of working is collaboratively. I like to have a conversation with the choreographer or director.
Being a part of HeadSpace is exactly that. We share ideas in and out of the studio. It’s always a room full of shared respect and inspiration.
– What’s your background?
I trained at London Studio Centre which is a performing arts school. So I had a wide range of teaching, from ballet to drama to hip hop dance!! I specialised in Contemporary Dance in the 3rd year and since then have mainly worked in the contemporary dance world as both a freelancer and in companies such as Rambert and Phoenix.
Over the last 4/5 years I have been balancing my work with more acting. I hope to continue down this road.
– What’s integral to the work of an artist?
For me as an artist it’s integral to believe in the work you are doing. This comes from working with people who inspire you, who you respect and who can teach you something new every day.
– What role does the artist have in society?
We are lucky as artists that we have a platform to give a message to the viewer. It’s our responsibility to use that platform wisely. Weather you wish to purely entertain and tell stories, allow the audience to escape or provoke with more of a political/social statement. It can and should be an effective mode of communication. The arts have the ability to connect with everyone and that’s exactly what they should do.
– What has been a seminal experience?
Going to Switzerland and creating Witch Hunt with Cathy Marston for Ballet Bern was a very important time in my life. I turned a corner at a very tricky time and feel that professionally I began to know myself better. I’m incredibly grateful for that experience.
– Explain what you do in 100 words.
I’m a performer who enjoys telling stories. I sit in a world that lies between dance and theatre and feel as though I’m on a constant quest to work out how the 2 best work together. How can you tell a story using text and Movement with out allowing one to suffer or be less important. Giving both equal importance. When is it necessary to use Movement or dance and when does it become superfluous.
– How has your practice changed over time?
Just like with anyone, the more experience you have both professionally and in life the more confidence you gain and the richer your practice can become.
I guess I have been able to focus my career to what I enjoy and what my strengths are the longer I have been doing it. I have become more selective based on knowing myself better.
– What work do you most enjoying doing?
I enjoy quite a wide range of work. But on the whole it has to be narrative or deliver a sense of ‘feeling/emotion’ as supposed to totally abstract. I enjoy having a character to get my teeth into.
It is much more about the people I work with. Fellow performers, choreographers and directors. If I feel inspired by a job then it’s very easy to enjoy it.
– What themes do you pursue?
I tend to be cast as the ‘love interest’ which is often joy or heart break! However not in this piece!! It’s great fun to be an evil step mother in this! I don’t want to be limited to any set ‘themes’.
– Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
At the risk of sounding a little corny… meeting Charlotte and Chris the directors of HeadSpace has been incredibly inspiring. We met in 2005 doing Cathy Marston’s ghosts. They have become wonderful friends but also constantly inspire me with their artistry as performers and now as directors.
– What memorable responses have you had to your work?
It was pretty surreal but very lovely to be nominated for an Olivier award for ‘outstanding achievement in dance’ for Witch Hunt that I did for Bern Ballet. I got to walk the red carpet with my sister!!
– What food, drink, song inspires you?
Food in general inspires me as I love cooking…..
I couldn’t live without smoked Mackerel (not sure it inspired me!)
I’d never say no to an Aperol Spritz!
And right now I’m enjoying Christine and the Queens! I’ve also been told I look like her…. I’d like to dance with her one day!!
– What is your dream project?
A HeadSpace project with work by Crystal Pite, Alexander Ekman and Robert Lepage performed at the National Theatre with a small family of wonderful performer friends….. too much to ask?!!
– Favourite or most inspirational performance?
It’s too hard to just give you one!
The Anderson Project
Rite of Spring/Cafe Muller
– What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
To be brave and not be afraid to make a fool of yourself.
– Professionally, what’s your goal?
To continue being involved in great work. And to be able to have a healthy balance of work and life.