Paul Lightfoot and Sol León
Leon-Lightfoot, which is how they sign their productions, is a true representation of the present day choreography. Having been working in NDT from a young age, they inherited the productivity of their teacher, Jiří Kylián: they continuously launch new productions with the regularity of a well-functioning assembly line, at the same time, they do not go down to mass market production.
Paul is not only gifted, but also charismatic, working with him is an absolute pleasure and unique experience. His works are incredibly up-to-date; they are witty and dramatic, filled with passion and energy.
Paul Lightfoot was born in Kingsley, the UK, in 1966. He graduated from the Royal Ballet School in London. In 1985 he joined the NDT Ballet Company under the direction of Jiří Kylián and quickly became one of the most gifted dancers of the company. He took part in the works of Kylián, Hans van Manen, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato and others. He debuted as a choreographer in 1989 with The Bard of Avon. Today Paul Lightfoot is artistic director of NDT.
Sol León is from Córdoba. She graduated from the Madrid Ballet School. In 1987 she started performing with NDT. She was engaged in the works of Kylián, Hans van Manen, Mats Ek, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato and others. She started collaborating with Paul Lightfoot in 1991 when she created the stage designs and costumes for Step Lightly, their first joint work. This family duet has created around 50 works up to date, amongst them are Said and Done (2001), Shutters Shut, Subject to Change (2003), Postscript (2005), Sleight of Hand (2007), Passe Partout (2009), Studio 2 (2009) for NDT I and Safe of Hand (2001), Signing Off (2003), Source of Inspiration, Drawn Onward (2004), Silent Screen (2005), Shoot the Moon (2006), Same Difference (2007), Sehnsucht, Limbo (2009), Swan Song (2010) for NDT II. They have also staged Sooner or Later for the Holland Festival in 2007.
The fact that almost all the titles of their pieces start from the letter “S” has become a trademark of this couple. It is Paul who comes up with the names for the works and he consistently dedicates them to his wife Sol and daughter Sora. In 2007 León and Lightfoot set up a project for street children in Bangladesh.
My main inspiration is nature.
I enjoy working with cultural layers that differ significantly from the conventional tradition that I belong to – I like constructing dialogues.
In modern art I prefer sincerity, which is the most important thing out of all, I guess.
Esthetics is a good thing and the beautiful lines of ballerinas are always an inspiration, but if there is no soul, no inner sense, then I don’t enjoy working with it.
Imperfections can be very beautiful, and what make things or people special, so I don’t look to make the perfect piece, and I think that’s part of what makes it magical sometimes.
What matters is the openness and humanity.
We prefer adding up our philosophy and explaining why one needs to do it this way and not the other, as well as helping the artists to find the meaning and deliver this meaning to the audience.
When you have certain skills and you are coming beyond the habitual, your talent will only strengthen and get immune.
As in case with all types of relations, artistic duet of course is not easy. Our union, both artistic and professional, went through different stages of development, at the very beginning we seemed to constantly hold each other’s hands, later it became more important to be more separated from each other: me is me and you is you. We got more mature and our relations have become really well-balanced.
Together we have the most potent tools for expression and are able to project what people are feeling.
I would give them a warning, with all the kindness in my heart – make sure you’ve got something to say. It’s not good to do anything in life if you don’t believe it.
It’s very important to have your own language. Work a lot with your own body, don’t just wait for others to do all the hard work for you, because it is hard work.
It’s very important to learn from people who are lots wiser and more experienced, like we do in all walks of life.