Art Maker: Rythea Lee, multi-disciplinary artist

  • Rythea Lee, who combines dancing, writing and theater in one-woman performances, here makes some moves at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rythea Lee, who combines dancing, writing and theater in one-woman performances, here makes some moves at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rythea Lee, who combines dancing, writing and theater in one-woman performances, shows off some moves at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 3/1/2019 8:58:34 AM

Whether she’s dancing, acting, writing or working as a teacher or therapist, Rythea Lee brings emotion and intensity to her work. The Northampton multidisciplinary artist is at her core a dancer, but she uses other creative lenses as well to look at different issues, such as how to overcome trauma and finding ways to heal.

In January, she showcased that approach in “Impermanence is Exhausting,” a one-woman performance at Northampton’s School for Contemporary Dance & Thought (SCDT). She says the show invites audience participation and includes “humor, dance, theater, and music to discuss our collective denial of death, and the resources I personally use to cope with my impending demise.” That message of “embracing life and doing it with irreverence” returns to SCDT May 11. 

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Rythea Lee: In addition to “Impermanence is Exhausting,” I’ve created an online show, “Advice from a Loving Bitch.” It's a playful yet instructional YouTube series — 20 episodes — that teaches people how to heal self-hatred. Each 10-minute episode has a different focus, such as externalizing the self-hating voices; there are also special guests and homework assignments. 

 

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

RL: I love collaboration — dancing, writing, singing and creating with other people. For me, it’s often not about the product, it’s about the experience — the sharing, the unity, the mission of whatever we are doing.

My “Eureka" moments often happen when I am dancing. I realize I’ve been walking around all day totally out of my body. I dance for a while and realize joy and fun exist in the present moment, not when I’m rushing around trying to be uber productive. 

 

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

RL: I guess I’m proud to say I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to my art. I know that being “good” is not objective and I can’t please everyone. I just have to shoot from the hip, go for the jugular, and stop when my body says stop. I’m a very impulsive yet thoughtful maker ... But I also have an easy time knowing when the thing is done. 

 

HL: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

RL: I’m a big Eve Ensler fan, the playwright and author of “The Vagina Monologues.” She’s so bad-ass — a real artist driven to change the world though activism for women’s rights, speaking out against violence and making art that is fearless, intense, confrontational and filled with joy. 

I am also currenly crazy about “Nanette,” a show by Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby. It starts off as a typical stand-up comedy routine and travels somewhere that is truly mind-blowing. 

 

HL: If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be?

RL: I can’t imagine not being an artist. I am also a therapist and I love it, so that kind of answers that question. However, I would also like to focus on different art forms, like painting and getting super-skilled at an instrument.

 

HL: What do you do when you're stuck?

RL: Creativity is all about emotions for me. If I’m stuck, there’s a feeling I’m avoiding. If I slow down or get some emotional support and open to feelings such as fear, loneliness, shame, grief, or rage, then a door opens and something is ready to be expressed.

— Steve Pfarrer 

More information about Rythea Lee, including her online show and upcoming live performances, can be found at rythea.com.

 

 

 

 




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