Anna Seagrave

A while back my friend Kelly interviewed me for her blog, WINTER MOON. In said blog, Kelly and her friend Olivia share their musing on life and the happenings around Providence, including interviewing interesting people in the area. Luke and I decided to adopt this great idea ourselves, but with our own twist. Inspired by Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit” and James Lipton’s “Inside the Actors Studio”, we created a list of questions about creativity, inspiration, and the role of art in people’s lives.

We don’t have Barbara Walter’s journalistic experience, nor have we spent any time between two ferns, so to kick off this series we decided to take turns as interviewee guinea pigs. It seems only fair, plus it is a great way for you to get to know us a little better!

Boom – here we go!

LukeWhen did you first feel that you were an artist?

AnnaWell, I have artistic parents. In particular my father; he studied art and sculpture…among other things. My whole life he’s told me and [my sister] Sarah “you’re an art girl”. That was a label that was placed upon me, and one I embraced in myself. I would tell myself “I’m an artist, I’m an art girl, that’s what I do, that’s who I am”. That’s the identity I picked for my life. There’s a couple of moments and memories that I can remember feeling proud about creating something, or a performance. But I won’t introduce myself as “I’m an artist”, even now. I would say “I’m a choreographer” because “I’m an artist” doesn’t sound…humble enough. I do feel like I am an artist though, deep down, in my core.

LukeWhere does the seed of your art come from? Do you go with your gut? Start with a concept?

AnnaEvery project is different, but usually the best way for me to start is by improvising— by moving. Sometimes I pick up a moment – a move, gesture, or a step and it clicks. Suddenly, it’s “oh! this is what this is about”. One little seed. Then I like to see how far I can extend that moment, find what my body wants to do that is related in some way…it comes from somewhere inside.

LukeYou’ve told me before that you’re interested in “gestures”: awkward gestures, pedestrian movement.

AnnaI have always been an observer, it’s one of my special skills. I notice things. I notice the big things (I hope), but I also notice the tiny shifts in things. My eyes are always open to my surroundings.

People are very interesting. Everyone is having their own internal dialogue. They’re the main character in their own stories. How is that reflected in their movements? I love watching and wondering about the stories around me. So I collect those moments/stories/movements, and occasionally pull them out to try someone else on.

LukeWhat motivates you?

AnnaUgh—I think I struggle with motivation. Obviously, a deadline. Now that I have the dance company, they motivate me because I get to see the work on other people and I get excited about that. When I didn’t have the company it was harder. I am someone who can easily cocoon myself; I’ll generate a lot of ideas in my mind, but nothing physically comes out. Finding motivation to actually get up and move can be hard sometimes. Again, it boils down to curiosity and the need to just do it. It’s a jittery, angst-y feeling in my body, it has to go somewhere. Might as well dance it out.

LukeIf you weren’t a dancer what artistic route do you think you’d go?

AnnaThat’s hard. I think I would be into some sort of design, like set design or interior design. I’m interested in creating spaces that say something about a place, or evoke a feeling. That’s what I try to do when I’m making dances: create something that evokes a reaction or feeling in the audience who experiences it. Setting a scene, creating the scene.

LukeI find that you are someone who is very encouraging of other people trying art. Even though you’re a talented artist, and you set the bar high. [yes, I am biased…but it’s true]

AnnaRight, I have training and a masters degree and vast…

LukeYour legs are jacked…

AnnaYes, these legs are jacked, its crazy. I got some skillz [laughter]. But I feel like the way to make art feel more approachable to people is to give them a chance to try it themselves. Give them a platform and remind them “it doesn’t need to be perfect, you just have to try it and see if you might like it”. It’s important…

LukeAnd amazing stuff can result.

AnnaAmazing stuff can result! That is why I want people to have the option to make art in a stress free environment, because you can learn so much about yourself, others and how you view the world. Maybe you’ll do something that you didn’t even know you could do. Or maybe it’s gonna be an epic fail and go down in flames, but at least you’ll have a good story to tell. “One time I tried to do this…and it was awful”

LukeYeah, its a right of passage!

AnnaMistakes are something that everyone has to deal with, and art allows you to make a lot of mistakes. But sometime mistakes are great! Sometimes the best stuff comes from getting stuck, then finding your way out of it to something unexpected and new. Or you get a smeared poo brown painting, but hey—don’t mix all those colors next time.

Anna Seagrave

LukeWhen is creativity play and when is it work?

AnnaFor me, it’s play the majority or the time. I start work with improv, playing around with phrases, dancing in the kitchen. I “play” creatively in my recreational time, I am always down for a weird project just to try it, without taking it too seriously.
It becomes work when I start to think of things on a deeper level and edit it down. But even when I am in rehearsals, analyzing and editing, I’m still enjoying it. It has to have a sense of fun. Otherwise it’s not sustainable.

LukeWhat role does collaboration play?

AnnaI love to collaborate with people because it gets me out of my head. Everyone brings something to the table. You could think of things that I could never think of, and us together could make something amazing! In dance it is especially important because I am putting movement onto someone else, and everyone moves a little differently. There’s always a little give and take for me. I love to bounce things off people. When it’s a challenge I view it as a positive one. Sure, sometimes people do not play well with others, and it can be a struggle. I am not saying it is easy, but the benefits far outweigh and negatives.

LukeWhat tickles your fancy?

AnnaCat videos, people falling over, and people really really laughing.

LukeAny Advice for readers?

AnnaTry something. Try something new. Put some music on in your kitchen and dance around!


Here’s a snippet from Anna’s piece “Imprint Remains”, as performed by Larkspur Dance Company with Anna front and center: