You are reading excerpts from Andréa Spearman’s conversation with Lydia Clinton.
10 in 10 theme music: Bright, upbeat pop music that you may hear in a teen-centered drama series.
[Theme music plays, then fades out slightly to play in the background of the introduction]
[An animation shows a bright green background and a prominent “10” with the “0” designed to look like a clock face with the hands moving. Another “10” pops up and is nested within the original clock-face “0,” with “IN” nested inside the second “0.” Dancers’ Group’s logo is in the corner and the text beneath reads “Quick insights with the Bay Area Dance community.”]
Andréa Spearman: Welcome to 10 in 10 with Andréa Spearman where we have short and lively dialogues with our local dance community.
[Fade to a black and white image of Lydia Clinton in profile with her chin resting on her fist. She’s laughing and has her eyes closed.]
Lydia Clinton is a Bay Area native who went to Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to pursue a BA in Modern Dance. During college, she also attended the American Dance Festival and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. Since returning to the Bay Area, Lydia has worked with a number of dance companies such as PUSH Dance Company, Zaccho Dance Theatre, Lauren Simpson Dance, and Capacitor. She also teaches children at Geary Dance Center, Dance Training Center SF, and Berkeley Playhouse. She loves making Instagram and TikTok videos.
[music gradually fades out entirely]
[Andréa and Lydia are shown in a video call with their images side by side. Andréa (left) is seated outside on a sunny day. Lydia (right) is indoors with a dark couch behind her. Both are wearing glasses.]
Hi everyone, welcome back to our 10 in 10 interview series. Today, we are here with Lydia Clinton, dancer extraordinaire. Our first question is really easy: Who inspires you?
Lydia Clinton: Oh man, there’s a lot of people who inspire me. I will say Sonequa Martin-Green who’s an actress. You can see her in Star Trek Discovery. She’s amazing. Just love her presence and her gravitas.
And then I would say dance inspiration is Joanna Haigood. Really how she weaves in history and aerial arts and contemporary and other dance styles and multimedia and her productions, it’s not just one thing. It’s multiple things, so I really love that versatility and multidisciplinary art which is really great.
Andréa: Dancing indoors or outdoors?
Andréa: Intricate costumes or all black?
Lydia: Budget wise, all black. I could pull that for free but I do like getting dressed up especially if I look weird.
Andréa: What’s your most recent favorite song?
Lydia: Oh my gosh! Okay, I have an answer to this! “Been Through That” by Majid Jordan, who I saw in concert last night. Ahh! So, I heard that song live and it was very exciting. It was magical. That’s my favorite song.
Andréa: What’s a secret spot in town for you?
Lydia: It’s not super super secret, but in Yerba Buena Gardens, above the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, there’s a bench area. You can see into the garden and you can see into the rest of downtown, and I used to sit there a lot, especially when I first started out here in the Bay Area dancing. I would sit there and contemplate my life. I had a couple of existential crises [laughs] sitting on those park benches and then I actually got to dance there with AXIS Dance Company a couple months later, but it’s a memorable spot and it’s just a nice place to sit. I would eat my homemade lunches there and I would just contemplate my life, pray, ask Jesus like “Jesus, what is happening?” [laughs]
Andréa: Fix it!
Lydia: Yeah, “Fix it!” He did, he fixed it.
Andréa: What’s your favorite Bay Area institution?
Lydia: I’m gonna have to bring it back to Joanna Haigood and Zaccho. It’s one of my favorites. They’re situated in Bayview, which I think is really special and how they’ve been able to work with local schools in the area, introducing them to aerial art and you know, bringing that to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it because setting any type of aerial art is very expensive. It’s like dance, you know. It’s accessible for middle to upper-middle class or wealthy [people]. I really like Zaccho and what they’re doing.
Andréa: Another artist is delayed to the show. You have to take the stage to fill the gap. Do you freestyle to music or silence?
Lydia: To music… I don’t think I’ve developed the skill to hold people’s attention long enough [laughs] in my improv. Maybe I start doing a monologue in silence, that’s also an option. I’ll take music because I know that I can work with whatever I got. Country may be a stretch, but I’ll make it work. I may do something completely different to the song.
Andréa: What’s a piece of advice that has stayed with you over the years?
Lydia: Ooh! For me, it was actually from my friend Linda Steele, but it was something her mom told her and she told me and it stuck with me, so thanks Linda Steele. Her mom’s name is also Linda. And the advice was: “If it’s for you, then it’s for you.” I feel like [it] has applied to almost every time, like every period of my life. That’s something that’s been with me for a long time now.
Andréa: What’s a future goal or dream?
Lydia: I do a lot of dreaming. [laughs] I think a future goal or dream for me is to become more of a multidisciplinary artist. Dance has always been my jam for many, many years and I saw myself becoming a professional dancer, which I did, but especially during the pandemic and I was able to take a break from dance, which I needed because I was still feeling kind of burnt out from the year before, I would love to be able to do other types of entertainment. So I got into video making this year on TikTok and Instagram, and I got pretty good at that and I just didn’t have the time for it anymore. I took acting lessons last year and this year. I really enjoyed acting. Shoutout to Shantae, my teacher [at A.C.T.]. And then I got into musical theater last year a little bit. We never got to perform In the Heights with Berkeley Playhouse, but that was a really great experience as well. I want to explore what else I can do in the realm of performing arts and entertainment. And I want to be good at it, [laughs] want to be fairly successful at it.
Andréa: What haven’t we asked that you want people to know?
Lydia: This year has made me reflect on the past five years since I’ve been here in the Bay Area. And I posted this on Instagram a couple weeks ago, but I just want to reiterate just how thankful I am. You know, starting my professional performance career in the Bay Area. I’ve stayed longer than I intended to, but I don’t regret not leaving earlier. I’m glad that I’ve been able to stay here and work with just some really amazing people. I’ve grown a lot as a woman, as a Black woman, and as an artist.
And it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me like what my goals and what my vision is for dance, which is to make it more accessible and for people to grab something from it. Dance can be super abstract, which I find frustrating sometimes, but if someone can get something out of it, whether they’ve seen dance a million times or if this is their first dance show, like they’re able to take something with them, experience something. I often think about my family who will come to my shows sometimes and I want them to experience something for themselves and so that’s my wish for all people and I want to continue to do that.
Andréa: All right, now it’s time to show us [claps] your favorite dance move!
Lydia: Okay I got you. I’ve been preparing…
[Lydia is now standing in her living space with a bookshelf and TV behind her. She wears a black top that says “Detroit vs Everybody” with black sweatpants. She steps back and forth, left and right within the frame.]
But honestly, just like a basic two-step—that is honestly my favorite move because you can do so much with a two-step! You can slide with it, you know, you can bounce with it.
[Lydia makes rhythmic sounds while she dances, demonstrating different variations on the two-step with her arms and upper body]
Honestly like two-steps. Y’all sleeping. Y’all sleeping on the two-step.
[Theme music fades in]
[Fade to an image of Lydia leaning against a building with one leg in penché and peering around the corner. She wears a bright red top and leggings with a black skirt and white sneakers. The building exterior has a black and white mural. There is a caption that reads “Find Lydia Clinton on Instagram & TikTok: @itsjust_lydia”]
[Fade to the 10 in 10 animation: a bright green background and a prominent “10” with the “0” designed to look like a clock face with the hands moving. Another “10” pops up and is nested within the original clock-face “0,” with “IN” nested inside the second “0.” Dancers’ Group’s logo is in the corner and the text beneath reads “Quick insights with the Bay Area Dance community.”]
If you’d like to get in touch with Lydia Clinton, please follow the links below.
This conversation appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of In Dance.