The Spring Movement artists, Sadi Mosko, MOLLY&NOLA (Molly Ross and Nola Sporn Smith) Jessica Nicoll and Laura K. Nicoll, Kalliope Piersol, Oluwadamiare (Dare) Ayorinde, and Emma Valeria Girandola/Valerius Productions were scheduled to perform in CPR’s 2020 Spring Movement Festival April 9-11. Please find below some resources, materials and inspirations shared by the artists (which we will continue to update) and join us in continuing to #celebratethework
Spring Movement is part of a biannual festival presented by CPR, featuring work by local and international emerging and established choreographers. This season’s installment will highlight 6 performance makers. Artists will present works-in-progress, finished pieces, and premieres of dance, theater, or performance, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists.
“For over two years, I have been making short dance films in various natural landscapes across the United States. Each film includes a short movement phrase that was developed as an immediate reaction to the natural setting featured in the film. Tectonic coalesces the material created in these videos into one piece. Drawing from its environmentally inspired movement vocabulary, Tectonic explores the concept of sustainability in multiple ways. What is sustainable environmentally but also physically? What can the human body endure? How do the cyclic relationships between the animate and inanimate features of the natural world allow the environment to sustain itself? Tectonic is a dynamic trio that plays with seemingly contradictory choreographic elements: minimalism and repetition with floorwork and partnering; objective environmental science with expressive human interactions. An original sound score accompanies the dance, using noises from my outdoor videos to create a sonic landscape.”
BIO: Sadi Mosko is a dancer and choreographer based in NYC. Since 2016, she has performed with Colleen Thomas Dance. Her own choreography has been commissioned by organizations including Columbia Ballet Collaborative (New York) and Treefort Music Fest (Boise, ID). In addition, Sadi co-founded SilverMoss Dance Project, a platform for the collaborative works of herself and Carolyn Silverman. Originally from Boise, ID, Sadi graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with B.A. degrees in dance and sustainable development. At Columbia, through the Barnard College Dance Department, she studied with artists such as Twyla Tharp, Andrea Miller, & Jodi Melnick and performed works by Sasha Waltz, Shannon Gillen, Loni Landon, & Alexandra Beller. Outside of the studio, Sadi is a writer/editor with a passion for environmental sustainability. Her research paper, “Stepping Sustainably: The Potential Partnership Between Dance and Sustainable Development,” was published by the journal Consilience.
“Dagger Falls” and “Mt. Borah”: source material for Tectonic (the piece I was going to perform at Spring Movement). I was also going to project the Dagger Falls video during the piece”.
Jessica Nicoll & Laura K. Nicoll
“‘Lonely Now (Reset)’, originally a 30-minute work presented in two distinct venues (The Kraine Theater and a Brooklyn brownstone) in 2018, inspires a new work for CPR, ‘(Reset) Lonely Now’. The proposed new piece—a 12- to 15-minute variation on the original—will be adapted according to CPR’s time limit and specific space. It is a duet in which two hazmat-suited dancers are joined by several characters with similar human-like forms and behaviors. Performed primarily in silence, the piece creates its own sound-score with rustling suits, the sounds of the space and audience, as well as ambient noise from the external environment. This humorous dance-theater performance continually messes with perceptions about time and space and raises questions about personhood and the nature of relationships; presents puzzles about who is manipulating or mimicking whom; and exposes the fine line between tenderness and violence”
BIO: Jessica Nicoll & Laura K. Nicoll, making dance theater works together since 2014 (3 Estrogenius Festivals and house concerts in Brooklyn), integrate physical, spatial, visual, and aural phenomena, taking cues from all aspects of the spaces in which they work. Jessica performed with Phyllis Lamhut, Kei Takei and others and has choreographed and performed her own work for dance (e.g., Danspace at St. Mark’s, PS 122, The Kitchen, etc.), theater, and opera since the early 80s. She received a 1999 Oobr Award for her work with Chekhov Theatre Ensemble and, as part of Nicoll+Oreck Dance Theater, won 3 Boulder International Fringe Festival Encore Awards. Laura trained with American Ballet Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet. As a member of the corps de ballet at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, she performed in a diverse repertoire including works by George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden, and Twyla Tharp. Laura performed on a cruise ship before collaborating as choreographer/performer with Reid Farrington on multimedia dance-theater work at 3LD Art & Technology Center, HERE Arts, Abrons Arts Center, Art House Productions, and The Tank.
Anne Kuite (AK) Email Interview with Jessica Nicoll (JN) + Laura K. Nicoll (LKN)
April 4, 2020:
AK: You have a piece, originally called “Lonely Now (Reset),” that was created some time ago, and now has been affected – naturally – by the passing of time and current circumstances. I’ve seen this piece a few times, both at the Estrogenius Festival in 2018 and at Jessica and Barry’s home. Tell us the story of when the creation of the piece began.
JN: We were in the Estrogenius Festival in 2017 at the Kraine Theater, which isn’t really a dance venue, and after each rehearsal or performance we’d have a thick layer of dirt on our hands and feet. So when we were invited for the 2018 Estrogenius I said, “We’ve got to use the dirt.”
LKN: It was dirty in a charming way; it stood out as so different from many ‘dance’ spaces in the city. We started thinking about dirt, and moving in it and each made up a phrase to share with each other. We videoed ourselves doing them simultaneously. This became a duet quite easily!
We both really liked how the solos seemed to fit together. Of course they didn’t exactly fit together — like ‘relationship’ wise — it was two people in their own worlds. The spacing and timing was working sort of immediately.
JN: While watching that video I played Nina Simone singing “Just Say I Love Him.” Not only did it time out perfectly, but also I loved the juxtaposition of us to each other and her voice and that song to what we were doing. When you came over I asked you to watch the video with that music. We tried other music with it, but that one stuck. There’s a line in the song—“I’m lonely now and then”—and that gave us our title, with the added (Reset).
LKN: We ended up putting that first duet at the very end of the piece, which is interesting to me that it was actually created first. It’s also the only section that had pre-recorded sound —
AK: I think Nina’s depth of emotion is one reason the song and duet “worked.” What are you wearing, and does that affect the movement? Or are you shaping the movement via clothing?
LKN: I came over to rehearse and Jessica had this old painter’s suit out. (Or did you email me a photo of you wearing it first?)
JN: Somewhere in the midst of rehearsing, I started thinking about wearing white. I found an old, extra-large painter’s suit with a hood. I took a photo of myself in it and sent it to you.
LKN: We started talking about what would happen if we were wearing that during the dance. Would we get really dirty? Like would the dirt in the theater stick to us and change the white costume into something brown or gray or ??
JN: Weirdly, the suits never got dirty at the Kraine. But by the time we figured that out, we were attached to the suits.
You asked about shaping, Anne. The shaping was part of our playtime: how the suits shape us, how we shape the suits. We might climb into them and then notice that if you tugged on it, it would stay (we called it “the stiff egg whites thing”). The day we noticed that, we spent 45 minutes yanking on parts of the suit and at the end we had a whole new section of the piece.
Also, I had bought more suits as back up. One day I think I threw one, to see if it could fly or something, like a ghost. It didn’t do much, but it gave me an idea to stuff the suits, so I did.
LKN: I came over and you had stuffed the suit with plastic bags / bubble wrap etc.
JN: To keep the material in, I sewed the ankles and wrists shut and created a mesh face mask.
LKN: And I was like, “OH. We have to dance with that guy.” So we made more of these ‘guys’ and started to try to move with them. It was kind of like learning how they moved. Like if we’re both wearing these suits, and you can’t really tell who’s who, can we learn something from the objects and each other that we didn’t know before? Turns out, YES! We were watching each other try things and learning something about stillness and these shapes that were body-like but not actual bodies and we were feeling these other stuffed guys and listening to the sounds that the suits made when we moved.
JN: Suddenly we had 5 other characters with us and it wasn’t a duet anymore. We started feeling exposed compared to The Guys, as we called them, so I made masks to cover our faces also. Three guys have names: Hangman, Linked Arm, and Velcro Back, and specific characteristics. Sometimes we’d just watch one of them tipping over and we’d go, “Ohhhh.” Then we’d try to match one of them. All of that became part of the dance.
LKN: Now we have this world of suited figures starting to move together, in sort of this task- based way but not with tasks that are particularly recognizable (which I’m endlessly interested in). We also don’t worry so much about what the individual body parts look like—the shape or height of a leg, for example, which I wasn’t that interested in at the time; it was refreshing to me to not have the human body be so recognizable. It was equalizing. We do get out of the suits—
JN: Figuring out how to get out of the suits was always hard.
LKN: We don’t wear suits for that alone-together duet to Nina Simone.
JN: So, the transition from being part of this team of “guys in white suits” to a couple of women in regular shirts and pants (and no masks) was always tricky.
LKN: Yes. The duet comes out of a trio—the two of us with Hangman—in which we’re partially out of the suits.
JN: It’s a very tender trio—the two of us with Hangman—and the gradual removal of our protective suits was a change for the second version. At the Kraine we changed costumes backstage, but that seemed disjointed.
AK: I am so enjoying reading everything here. Learning where the title comes from (I really like the title and it has such resonance right now). The use of chance, the dirt in the theater. One’s emotional response to not knowing who is who, or even if one or more of the “guys” is really one of you, or a stuffed suit.
Are you creating an emotional landscape or setting a scene for the audience?
JN: That’s interesting. The opening of the piece is a long stillness. We are lying on the floor with one of the guys. There’s a little confusion about who is “real.” After about a minute, I hear rustling and Linked Arm and I start to roll. I am trying to become him. I try to be exactly parallel to his body, to feel as bulky as he, to match the tilt of his head, and to feel the weight of his shoulder against Laura and my shoulder against the floor. I love that moment. Everything in the whole dance grows from there for me.
LKN: We watch video when we’re making it so that we can see it. Every time I watch the scene of you and Linked Arm putting your heads on the floor after that roll, I think it’s so sad; I always sigh.
JN: I don’t feel sad doing it, though. I’m just doing it.
LKN: Right: we’re not mapping out an emotional landscape first. Emotions might come out of the action or inaction. I think questions and experiences come up for both us and the audience— maybe especially now—and they might be the same or similar or they might be different. Something could be funny even while it’s troubling. There’s humor in this piece at different times for different people.
JN: We’re not projecting it. On the inside, Laura and I are just working on the dance— digging into the nuances of what we made and connecting to these guys who seem inanimate and yet feel like personalities or characters to us. One thing the audience never sees but does affect us is packing the guys away for storage or re-stuffing them. We apologize to them and whimper a little the whole time. I’m not kidding.
LKN: I feel responsible for the emotional “landscape,” I guess, but I’m not . . .It’s always true when you see art. The world changes and you change, so you can see a piece made a long time
ago (it might be something you saw before, as you did with this piece, Anne) and now it looks different.
AK: What do you observe now, that perhaps you hadn’t before in the piece you created?
JN: We decided to do a showing for our partners Barry and Tarik on the 20th of March, even though the world had turned upside down—everything bizarre for everyone. By that time, of course, we were seeing what looked like our dance splashed all over the news. For us, seeing images of our guys and us—the new symbol of the new coronavirus—dominating the news was surreal. And we immediately thought, “Everyone will think we made a dance about this pandemic.”
LKN: Well, the old questions are now in high relief because of the images in the news. We and audiences always wondered, “are they aware of each other? are they working? who is alive? are they lonely?” — it’s just that now with people self-isolating / in quarantine, sick, dying—the piece does seem to be about a pandemic. But it certainly wasn’t when we originally made it.
Revisiting an existing work is always emotionally interesting for me. There is this stepping into a former self, as my current self, sensation that is different than re-reading something you wrote or watching something you did. It’s like you are re-becoming yourself (?!) and I’m aware of physical changes in my own body over the time that has passed but also kind of this recommitment to the piece that sort of takes me off guard.
I knew that I was interested in digging back into this one again, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you why. But NOW, in the rehearsals that we had in February and March even lying there on the floor at the beginning, waiting to find the impulse to start I am hyper aware of every breath that I am taking, and that Jessica is taking, and that the stuffed guys are not taking, but then we all move together and even though they aren’t alive they are with me in a way…like we’re connected. I think that was always there but the lens is so focused in that direction right now.
AK: Were there constraints or differences about the CPR production that affected how you revisited this existing work?
JN: One constraint was that the CPR version had to be 15 minutes or less. Our first two versions were 30 minutes long. It brought up so many questions. We take our time in this piece; if we rushed the opening, would the whole thing be pointless? And would we have to cut the final duet in which we shed the suits? What if dropping the duet lost the piece’s development or sense of transformation? Would it look like we were just playing around with clever tricks in hazmat suits?
LKN: Time and space! We knew we wanted to revisit this piece but also knew that we work in a very responsive fashion, particularly when it comes to space, so we wanted to get in there as soon as possible. CPR is much bigger than the two spaces in which we’ve previously performed together. We spent an hour at CPR furiously trying out existing material and doing a few new experiments. There is more work to do for sure, but I think I understand something about what the audience sees — given how wide the space is and how the black floor vs. white walls affects the look of the costumes.
The time constraint, which we knew going into the application process, has been super interesting. By cutting the piece in half, I learned what was important to me—like the stillnesses and slow pace of the beginning. But that meant probably changing the ending. Getting out of the suits at some moment is important to me, but what we do out of them might need to change.
JN: We had some new ideas for an ending—without the duet—that we want to keep working on. On the inside, the commitment we’ve made to each other and the materials and space we’re exploring seems no different to me than our usual collaborative process. We are just doing the work and constantly learning from it.
AK: The changes in the world are endlessly observable, talked about, written about, broadcast about, social-media-ed on, etc., etc., etc. But the internal “weather,” as I like to call it, is perhaps the most important to observe. The sometimes scary changes, but also, the constancy of our body’s abilities and physicality.
Oluwadamiare (Dare) Ayorinde
“Home.Here” is guided by the Yoruba philosophy “Iwa l’ewe”. It translates to body beautiful as seen through a Yoruba ethical lense; it includes but is not limited to personality, stance, posture, appearance and undesirability. It allows for idiosyncrasies in personal character to exist within a culture. I ask myself and collaborators for honest inhabitation of movement and state. Us falling deep into the emotional nostalgic source of movement creates a specific culture in the room. In this piece I’m looking at bodies as mobile locations with stored history and collaboration as the clashing and cohesion of these sites. It’s powerful when they become sites for comfort and support through the discomfort that comes with vulnerability. Through our dancing, singing and state inhabiting, we try to come in contact with and display an ambitious transparent self. The hope is that we can create an environment that inspires people to drop into theirselves and communities in new vulnerable ways.”
BIO: Oluwadamilare (Dare) Ayorinde is Nigerian – North American freelance creating dance artist living in New Jersey. Since Rutgers University he has worked with Colleen Thomas, Bill Young, Netta Yerushalmy, Stefanie Batten Bland, Susan Marshall, Kayla Farrish, Douglas Dunn, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, The Trisha Brown Dance Company, Kyle Marshall and Miriam Gabriel + Carlo Antonio Villanueva. He has presented work at Smush Gallery, Morristown Museum, Stuffed Arts and Movement Research Monday’s at Judson. Last year Oluwadamilare was Dance on the Lawn’s fifth Emerging Commissioned New Jersey and a Chez Bushwick resident. He is named top 25 to watch in Dance Magazine for 2020. He likes to read historical fictions that take place in Nigeria . He believes performance is a place where we can interact with the cosmos; and idea he learned from Wole Soyinka. Recently he finds himself working with nostalgia, laughter and transparency to find more nuanced ways of sharing experience.
MOLLY&NOLA (Molly Ross and Nola Sporn Smith)
BIO: Molly and Nola met in Michigan in 2010, and rekindled their creative partnership as MOLLY&NOLA in July 2017 after 6 years of living and dancing in separate cities. They are currently based in Brooklyn, NY, and have performed their collaborative work throughout New York City, in Philadelphia and in New Mexico.
Nola Sporn Smith is a dance and theater artist from Brooklyn, NY. Nola was recently nominated for a “Bessie” Outstanding Performer Award for her work in Stacy Grossfield’s metamorphosis, and has also performed with Donna Uchizono Company, cakeface, Emily Smith, Kensaku Shinohara and others. She has worked in Assistant Director and production roles for multiple NYC theater artists and choreographers, and has choreographed on students at Queens College.
Originally from Michigan, Molly Ross is a dance maker and performer based in Brooklyn, New York. She has studied, choreographed, and performed dance in London (London Contemporary Dance School), Chicago (Khecari Dance, Hedwig Dances), The American Dance Festival, Israel (Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company), throughout NYC and in Philadelphia. She currently works with The Dance Cartel and teaches yoga.
“Inspired by the Greek mythological story of Icarus, [ey-vis] explores this story through a feminine lens. The choreography is derived from stereotypical feminine movement qualities such as delicacy, subtly, and intricacy in order to display an overwhelming image of power. This juxtaposition challenges the weakness associated with femininity and illuminates the neglected strength of each individual’s femininity.”
BIO: Emma Valeria Girandola began her training at the Princeton Ballet School where she trained under ballet masters such as Graham Lustig, Douglas Martin, and Kathleen Moore. As a freelance artist within Philadelphia, Emma has performed in works by choreographers such as Dr. Kariamu Welsh, T. Lang, and Dara Stevens-Meredith. In June 2018 Emma’s work, [ey-vis], was presented at the 2018 ACDA Nationals Conference at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In a pursuit to establish a strong community of artists, Emma has launched her company: Valerius Productions. In June 2019, Valerius Productions presented work at The Alvin Ailey Studios and followed with a presentation at the DUMBO Dance Festival in October 2019. Furthermore, Valerius Productions aims to consistently emanate strength through one’s own self-representation.
“‘The Business of a 3 Sided Square is a chaotic reckoning with the structure of technique in dance as we have learned it. Dancers use it, forget it, succumb to it, run from it, challenge it, and fail at it. The five windows, made by artist Bobby Smith, hang above the dancers as a symbol of a unified square, a home, a stage, four people standing shoulder to shoulder. This abstract structure implies that what happens on the stage during the duration of the piece is contained and insular. As though the performers may never know they have an audience, as though the dance is on a loop with no beginning or end. This is a work that embraces casualness, as well as extremely serious approaches to expending energy on making movements look big. It is about the dancers, both alone and in their partnerships, and the way they chose to do their movements”.
BIO: Kalliope Piersol is a dancer and choreographer based in Brooklyn. She has shown work at Purchase College at SUNY, Bad Dance Festival, Whitsons, The Silent Barn, Triskelion Arts, Greenspace, and Gibney. Kalliope has performed for artists including Ariane Anthony & Company, Hallie Lahm, Rebekah Windmiller, Corinne Shearer and Dancers, and Alan Good. In their choreographic duet Kalliope+Symara, Kalliope and choreographer Symara Johnson have been a part of Gibney Work Up 6.2, Collab Fest at Triskelion Arts, and self produced various interdisciplinary productions while at Purchase College. Kalliope trained at the JKO School at American Ballet Theater and is a graduate of SUNY Purchase, earning a BFA in dance with a concentration in composition. While at Purchase she most notably performed works by George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Hannah Garner, and Rena Butler.