We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Liviakis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, what is the most important factor behind your success?
The most important factor behind my success: I understand the job of the artist and I take that job seriously.
The artist has two jobs. The first: to create a new world. The second: to transport the viewer into that world.
The first stage is the fun stage, the indulgent phase. It’s giving fully into the utopia, into the world the artist has created inside their head. This is an inherently selfish stage—it’s all about ME and MY world. And that’s a good thing. You have to be completely wrapped up in your own world to fully explore and understand it.
Then comes the second stage: you have to somehow bring others into this world you have created. But in order to do this, you have to exit your world and come into reality—to meet people on common ground, and through that commonality, you bring them to your vision. This is where I think many artists lose their way.
The best way to transport people is through entertainment. A lot of artists, especially now, have forgotten this simple fact. Many artists have rushed towards “What’s my message? How am I going to challenge the audience? What am I trying to say?!” without giving much consideration for how they’re going to get there. There is such an emphasis on content that style has been lost. The word ‘entertainment’ has become this dirty little word—it is being wrongly conflated with superficiality. When entertainment and style are lost, we are left with propaganda. An experience hasn’t been created in which to lose yourself.
My works in dance and film are always audience-driven. The dancers and actors acknowledge that the audience is there: they are there to perform FOR you; THEY have to convince YOU. I know that it’s my job as the director and choreographer to bring my audience on board. I want my audiences to WANT to jump on this ride with me, to crave my world as a world of their own. In my dances and films, I bring deeply constructed themes, characters, and plots, wrapped in sparkly packages. They blend concert and commercial styles, they include audience participation sections, and are never, ever held to the constraints of reality. Are characters dance-fighting instead of yelling—YES. Do characters communicate in talk-singing poetry—YES. Are we in 50’s décor one scene, and 80’s in the next—YES. Is there a talking Chinchilla—YES.
Though my art begins from a selfish place, my art does not stay there. Rather than jamming my world down your throat, I offer it to you with the sweetest of icings and pinkest of sprinkles. Through my art, I present this world I hold so dear. Whether I’ve convinced you to join, now that’s up to you.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My goal as a director and choreographer is for people see the value that dance brings to film. That dance can communicate an engaging story that anyone, regardless of dance experience, can understand. That a musical can have a modern, sleek, magazine-like aesthetic that feels updated for the modern era. I want to bring dance in a sophisticated form to modern audiences; I want them to crave to watch dancers. In my films the dancers are the stars, the choreography is the script.
Aakash Raj Diego Avellaneda