Checking in with Cindy Leal

Checking in with Cindy Leal

What are you working on?
I just got back from Puerto Rico, but before I left I’d been working on a lot of dance improv projects at the [Twisted Branch] Tea Bazaar with a group of friends, and I’d also been doing a lot of solo work over the past year with music improvisers. I’ve been interacting with a lot of the theater people in town: Robert Wray, all those cats from [former drama company] Cakes ’n’ Ale, and we’re thinking about putting some stuff together in the studio. [Studio 11 at McGuffey Art Center]


Know why the caged bird dances? According to Cindy Leal, founder of This Little Bird Theatre, it could be dark chocolate, the Velvet Underground or Russell Richards.

Plans to perform soon?
I don’t have a performance date right now, but definitely within the month, month-and-a-half or so… Right now, I feel like I’m in a giant steel pot and I’m just brewing, ready to get out and make things happen.

Favorite snack-food?

I am a ridiculous trail mix fan. If there’s dried fruit around, then I’m there.

What music are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to Velvet Underground, the Books. I love music that juxtaposes forces, like found sound. My friend Garrett makes music from found sounds that he plays while I’m dancing, composing while I’m composing. I’ve been listening to his demos, to The Liars, old Radiohead…

What’s your favorite tool of the trade?
Honesty in performance, raw honesty, is a tool that develops over time, and takes a long time to acquire. There’s this desire in performance for a feedback loop…that’s why theater and dance artists do what they do, for the audience exchange.

Item you have with you at all times?
When I was in Puerto Rico, I was going into a squat situation, which was not something I wanted to be involved in at all. It was kind of a surprise, and I almost felt like I was in danger. The one thing that I felt like I needed to have at all times was my cell phone.

Locally, who would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?
I really love Sam Witt’s poetry. He read a monologue at one of the events I was doing, and I would love to collaborate with him. I also feel a really strong pull towards [visual artist] Russell Richards, towards the fragmentation of his work. We’re kind of on the same page.

Guilty pleasure?
Dark chocolate. But it’s really healthy for you! I never used to eat chocolate, but once I started, I just got happier. I think I lost twelve pounds—it boosts your serotonin, ups antioxidant levels.

Favorite artist in your genre? Outside your genre?
In my genre it would be Pina Bausch, who just recently died. She incorporated very strong visual images—giant whales, a whole stage of flowers. She was a pioneer of experimental dance theater in Germany years and years ago. Outside my genre, I really want to say a visual artist. Some really important visual art that I’ve seen in town comes from Allison Sommers. She’s my collaborator’s partner, and I’m really stupefied by the level of detail I’ve seen in her work, and the amount of work she puts into it every day.