By Nicole Harris
N: The piece you are building this year is a bit of a love letter to your kitchen. Can you talk a little about why dancing in your kitchen is so important to you?
RR: Haha- yes, my kitchen. I have a number of reasons. One is that some of my silliest memories with my mom are of dancing together in the kitchen. In fact, one time she dipped me and dropped me but we were giggling so hard. It was awesome! I also have so many different memories in the various kitchens of my life- eating breakfast and listening to the radio while my mom blow dried her hair in the next room; making pies with my dad; the portable dishwasher I grew up with; sneaking treats like whipped cream or M&Ms when I wasn't supposed to; dancing around the island pretending we were on a 3 hour tour; making applesauce with my parents, my friends, my own family; hosting after Thanksgiving parties....you get the idea. I think most people have these kinds of memories. The kitchen may not be the central point of a home any more, but it is an essential point that everyone goes through every day.
Then in addition to all of that, I keep exploring my own challenges with the kitchen and food and the essential life as the food maker for a child. A frequent question in our house- "What should we do for dinner?" "I don't know." "What do we need from the grocery store?" "Will you do the dishes?" "Is there coffee?"
And I also have a love of negative space and reactionary movement- how can you dance with the refrigerator? Or the microwave? Since it won't be often that I can bring these partners to the stage, I decided to take advantage now.
N: How have you been handling quarantine? What have you been doing to keep moving and creating during this year?
RR: I am mostly at home- WFH, school from home, date from home, movies from home, dance from home...you name it! My house is all healthy but the pandemic has meant changes in parenting schedules. I have been learning how to do what I want while also seeing to my child's needs and letting him learn what I do and want to do. I made a playlist of dance videos I like and exercise to. We take walks and bike. My creation isn't always in movement- I have also completed 4 quilts, various projects with my son, and a fully online musical for kids.
N: This year’s NACHMO is different than anything we’ve done in the past, with all events entirely virtual. How will you change your process to deal with the obstacles 2021 brings us? What is the first thing you did at the start of the month?
RR: I did a lot of thinking- I usually do before choreography. I have a sense of what I want to do and think a lot. Then write a bit and explore. The challenge is finding time to video when I won't be interrupted!
N: Who are your mentors? What makes those relationships special to you? What are you doing to pay forward the gifts they have given you?
RR: I don't have a specific mentor right now. I very much reflect on the classes and work I have done with Susan Creitz who was an improv professor of mine in college and a former Nikolais dancer. She helped train us to be very connected to the moment of the group so that we could improvise together and create beautiful work. I also respect the work of karen Krolak and her work on grief. I think it's incredibly important to explore all our grief and sometimes the best way to process is through movement. I also like the work of Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion in creating work and choreography that is elegant and approachable to all people.
I hope to bring these gifts through my work and to work and honor dancers who offer the same.
N: It is important to us that we continue to lift up other artists in our community. Who are some of your favorite Boston area choreographers? Why?
RR: As mentioned above- Karen Krolak and her work on grief and movement of the every day. Peter DiMuro for his work that honors places and stories. Kristin Wagner for her work with women and telling women's stories. Aysha Upchurch for her powerful storytelling. There are so many others....