We had the good fortune of connecting with Rivkah French and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rivkah, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Passion and interest guided me to dance. But loving every part of the dancemaking process: training, choreographing, teaching, collaborating, rehearsing, and performing–enjoying each stage in the process has allowed me to continue doing this work for the past 25 years. Some parts are more pleasurable than others, but in general it’s a good time no matter what part of a project I’m engaging with. When you choose a career you have to enjoy the day-to-day tasks involved, If it’s not fun for you, don’t commit your life to it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m currently focused on providing creatively empowering experiences for the LGBTQ+ community, expanding the field of Queer Dance Theory, and building new movement techniques fusing global dance styles with contemporary Western dance. My career exemplifies my belief in the profound power of art on individuals and society at large.
Some of the challenges I’ve encountered involve formerly managing a thriving non-profit organization and dance company from 2003-2016, building a black box theater in Houston’s East End in 2006 (working with the city’s building department felt like a full-time job!), founding the annual Houston Fringe Festival in 2008 and maintaining it for 8 years, transitioning from running my organization to becoming an independent choreographer in 2016, and balancing personal relationships with my never-ending obsession with making new work.
Lessons I’ve learned include:
Perseverance will get you very far.
People will make the journey more fun.
At the end of the day, as Tracy Chapman said “all that you have is your soul.”
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My dear friend John Edward Ross helped me see the value in dedicating one’s life to being an artist back in college. Adair Hawkins took me under her wing in my early dance training. Robert Thoth was my creative collaborator for 13 amazing years.
Influences and Inspiration:
The choreographer Shen Wei has extensively impacted my work over the past decade. I regularly study his technique with his company in New York and it continues to infuse new themes and approaches to my choreography. As a gay artist and a dance filmmaker, the work of DV8 Physical Theater deeply moves and inspires me.
Other influences include:
Dance: Martha Graham, Pilobolus, Urban Bush Women, Rosie Herrera, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Michelle Dorrance
Music: Philip Glass, Nina Simone, Aphex Twin, Zoe Keating, The Velvet Underground, Kendrick Lamar
Visual Artists: Andres Serrano, Aurora Robson, Cassils
Writers: David Rakoff, Anne Sexton, T.S. Elliot
Architecture: James Turrell, Zaha Hadid
Yelp: Capron Studio
Youtube: Rivkah French Choreography