Saffy Setohy is an independent dance artist- a performer, choreographer and teacher based in Cornwall. Saffy graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance in 2007 and since then has been performing and making work for a variety of stage, installation, screen and sited contexts. Saffy has worked with choreographers including Matthias Sperling and Andreya Ouamba, Angela Praed, Henrietta Hale, Willi Dorner, and performed Yvonne Rainers seminal workTrio A for the Move: Choreographing You exhibition at Londons Southbank Centre. As a teacher Saffy particularly enjoys higher education and is an associate lecturer and visiting lecturer at Plymouth and Falmouth Universities respectively. She also enjoys leading workshops for all ages which facilitate people to find their own creative voice. Saffy is currently an emerging artist-in-residence at the Southbank Centre and Hayward Gallery, London, and the Dance Development Officer for Cornwall.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
I am always learning through creative dialogue with myself and other people, and I never get bored! I do many different things within the same field- performing, making, teaching, managing, advising, producing. All these experiences give me the chance to learn new things all the time and to be involved in something I love and believe in, as well as support other people in their endeavour to do so. Making performance work is still a miracle to me- I love the moment when the thing you are working on and grappling with suddenly becomes alive and takes on a voice of its own, and then when you share that with other people.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
I am inspired by many people at different times and for different reasons, especially when their passion shines through. I like lots of different art forms but some UK-based choreographers that I am inspired by for their individuality, integrity and courage are Rosemary Butcher, Lea Anderson, Matthias Sperling, Siobhan Davies, Liz Aggiss, Rosemary Lee. Sometimes it is an individual piece of work, or something that someone says in discussion with them that gives me the 'wow' factor. Lately Virginia Woolf has become a literary heroine of mine for her work The Waves, which my most recent work Soliloquy is inspired by.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
At some point it became very apparent to me that being an artist (and having a career in it) is about finding your own path. I try to remember this when I have anxious moments. I always knew that I would probably end up doing lots of different things within the same field- a portfolio career I believe its called- but the hardest thing has been trusting my own decisions. There have been lots of times when I have been (like many other artists) juggling lots of balls, and worrying about the things I'm not doing. But the main things I am learning and would have found helpful is reassurance that there is no 'right' way to do things, to define for yourself what success means, to stick to your values, cultivate your own vision and share in other peoples, enjoy the journey and keep things in perspective. When you do, I find that things have a way of working out.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Creative blocks are something that I think are a natural part of anyones creative life. I remind myself first that they are temporary, and also deceiving- sometimes a difficult moment can open another door, and all is not lost. Often in these situations I give myself a task or play with an idea in a way that at first can seem arbitrary, I am deliberately not being too precious- out of this a new spark can occur, so the important thing then is also to be receptive to that new spark and not to dismiss everything too easily. Talking with people, having as many different experiences as possible, seeing other peoples work- all these things can help to tap into creative ideas. Sometimes I get brainwaves when I'm driving or doing the dishes, so perhaps a distracting activity can help!
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
I would probably be a flat biker boot lined with a delicate fluffy material- resilient and weatherproof on the outside, warm and soft on the inside, and good for travelling with!