In past seasons, the weeks leading up to the start of the Festival are some of the most anticipated: artists bound for Spoleto begin to arrive in Charleston, and the city swells with a vibrant artistic energy. This year however, artists are tasked with staying home andjust like usfinding themselves navigating these unprecedented times with a little help from Netflix, Zoom, and a few good books. So what’s keeping the folks who inspire us so much inspired themselves? Our “What I’m Watching” series asks just that. Read on to hear from Trisha Brown Dance Company member Leah Ives.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary season, the iconic Trisha Brown Dance Company was set to return to Spoleto this season, presenting works at the Sottile Theatre as well as two highly anticipated site-specific performances in Hampton Park. With the postmodern dance group would have traveled Leah Ives, a company member since 2014 who regularly taught Trisha Brown-style movement classes in New York City. We checked in with Ives to find out what’s on her daily to-do lists these days.

What are you binge-watching?

I just finished Picard, which was great, and now I’m starting Unorthodox.

Any go-to tunes?

Rufus Wainwright’s daily concerts on Facebook are feeding my spirit. I especially like when he wears his kimono style bathrobe. It just sets the right tone.

What podcast are you into right now?

I can’t live without the podcast Sleep With Me. It puts me asleep consistently within 15 minutes. There was a short period of time when I thought I was falling in love with the host of the show. That’s how good it is.

Do you have a go-to cookbook or any guilty-pleasure snacks?

Right now, I’m frequently referencing my Cooking with your instant Pot Mini cookbook by Healther Schlueter. I also love the app Mealtime for easy recipes and meal planning. My guilty pleasure is giving anything an over-extended olive oil drizzle with flavored salt. I’m also guilty of eating peanut butter straight from the jar, but I don’t really feel that guilty about it!

What’s your quarantine schedule?

Not every day is the same, but it’s often something like: coffee; Zoom yoga class; answer emails; FaceTime with loved ones; feed my sourdough starter; take note of how the tree outside my window is changing (it was bare when I started isolating and now it’s in that awkward pre-teen stage with tiny leaves); strategize about turning my room into a greenhouse; start to despise my apartment; remind myself that I’m not usually in my apartment this much; “Marie Kondo” the things I just can’t look at anymore; try to plan the un-plan-able future; scheme about creative projects with other dancers; cook; watch Netflix.

How are you continuing your daily practice?

I’m relying on streamed sources to help me focus on my body for a little while each day. That’s usually yoga or Pilates, because they fit best in my apartment. Focused breathing has also become more important.

What are you most looking forward to when things get back to normal?

This is going to sound like a planted response, but I’m looking forward to being in an audience again. I have enjoyed the ways we’ve started scheduling more online viewings, so we have an awareness that we are not alone in our spectatorship. Sometimes I’ve been shocked how many more people are watching together online than I think would be able to if it were a physical gathering. But it’s still not as good as sharing both space and experience with other people. I miss feeling other people’s focused attention, their anticipation, their judgmental defenses or vulnerable openness. I never really noticed before how these things affect me physically and influence my own viewing. I really miss that unacknowledged exchange.


Visit Trisha Brown Dance Company online to learn more about the iconic ensemble, which celebrates its 50th anniversary season in 2020. Find the company on Instagram @Trishabrowncompany and follow along for special events, streams, and more.  


Photos at top (from left): Leah Ives in Trisha Brown’s Set and Reset, by Sandy Korzekwa; and Ives in Brown’s Foray Foret, by Matthew Karas