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Reflecting on the emotional process of The thoughts drawn

Salience features the World Premiere of The thoughts drawn by London-based choreographer Olivier Coëffard. Olivier's first ever creation for CCDT explores the transformation of past trauma into strength, showcasing a journey of resilience. Company dancer Tessa Ziemba Lee reflects on the creation process and bringing The thoughts drawn to the stage.

Rehearsal photo by Francesca Chudnoff.


I glide past fragments of what I left behind, edging towards something greater. I am not without doubts, splinters of shame and disbelief weighing me down. Yet I am pushed into my future, breath entering my lungs, and I become lighter, weightless, rushing and running towards my unknown path. I don’t need to know what lies ahead.

Olivier Coëffard’s work, The thoughts drawn, is a journey through past and present, hurtling viewers towards an unknown future. I have the honour of taking this distinct journey, tapping into my own emotions and reflections to create a world that is both authentic to myself and a visual of deeper exploration.

Throughout our 10 day creation period, we had the pleasure of working closely and personally with Olivier as he created the piece. He gave us each a specific story to connect with, crafting every character with detail. As we dance through the piece, we are all on our own journeys, moving through discovery and growth. For me, the specific personalization of our roles is completely unique to this process, and the way that it affects our performance of the piece is evident in every rehearsal.

I feel this emphasis on emotional performance seeping into all aspects of my artistry. I have found deep importance in how I feel while performing, and how this feeling can spread through a theatre, igniting the hearts and minds of our audiences. While performing The thoughts drawn, I channel a deep vulnerability and humanity that I can scarcely find a place to show. This vulnerability is the gravity that pulls the company together; where else can we be so truly and honestly raw? Seeing the hearts of my peers shine through as we have worked on this piece has been the truest delight.

Rehearsal photo by Francesca Chudnoff.

A visual that Olivier suggested to me as we worked on the piece was to see the face of a loved one in front of me. Imagining the words I might share, the things I would not want to leave unsaid. As we have progressed in the piece, I find that I am always seeing my fellow company dancers in front of me. This journey has brought me an unparalleled connection with them, a closeness that is indescribable. I sincerely hope that when audiences see us perform in this work, they can feel our vulnerability, emotional honesty, and love for one another. To share our hearts and true artistic selves with each other has been a beautiful and deeply emotional process. I cannot wait for our audiences to experience and share in this poignant journey of discovery, love, and freedom.


Don't miss Tessa and the 2022/23 Company dancers performing The thoughts drawn alongside works by Jennifer Archibald, Chantelle Good, Deborah Lundmark, and Nicole Caruana, as part of CCDT's upcoming Salience mixed program. On stage at the Fleck Dance on May 26 & 27. Tickets and info here.


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