by Nicole Harris
Here's the second of our NACHMO Boston interviews! This time, Grace Novikoff from Nozama! You can catch the first interview we did with the ladies of Nazama here!
To learn more about NACHMO Boston you can find them on Facebook and Instagram! You can also support this year's NACHMO Boston programming here!
Finally, don't miss the NACHMO Boston Concerts at the Dance Complex on Friday, February 9th and Saturday, February 10th!
N: We interviewed you back in 2016 when you participated in 24hr ChoreoFest. It’s great to get to talk with you again! What are three awesome things that have happened to Nozama since then?
G: Thank you so much! We’re so happy to talk to you again. The last year and change has been incredible. Since the fall of 2016, we produced our second full-length production, “Bodies and Choices,” at Green Street Studios. This time we were honored to feature five other female modern dance companies whose work surrounded the show’s message of female empowerment and community.
N: The story of where you got your name is pretty amazing. Can you share it?
G: Of course! In 2012, Natalie Schiera and Gracie Novikoff were alumni choreographers for Dance Theatre Group at Boston University. They were lucky to create works with inspiring, empowered women, who weren’t afraid to convey stories through athletic, raw, grounded movement. After graduating, they wanted to bring this movement quality and message to the Boston dance community by creating their own company, but without what to name it. They researched synonyms for “empowered” or “strong” woman, but they found many had a negative connotation. One that stood out was Amazonian, which they decided to quite literally “flip the term on its head” - with that, ‘Nozama’ was born.
N: It is very clear in reading about your company that powerful women are important to you. How have events in the last year like the Women’s March and #metoo impacted the work you make?
G: The political climate of 2017 refined and redefined our message as a company. We have always been a collective of women, about women, who aim to create a safe space for women to share their stories. In 2017, this became even more important as our liberties as women felt threatened. At the same time, we were beyond excited and empowered by the Women’s March, the #metoo campaign, and other initiatives where female voices were heard. This is the time to stand up and speak out, and confidently share those raw and powerful stories that make us vulnerable, but strengthen and empower us in the process. In 2017, our choreography shifted to highlight our reaction to what was happening in the world around us. In particular, our piece “Bodies and Choices” (2017), represented female empowerment in this tumultuous time. Our dances in this 2018 season will continue to portray empowered, emotional, badass women who are coming into their own and ready to speak out in a time where others may not want us to. Our pieces will include a great deal of partnering, as we believe now, more than ever, women must empower one another in times of struggle, and celebrate one another in times of triumph. We are stronger and more powerful as a collective.
N: What are you most excited about for this year’s National Choreography Month?
G: For the first time at NaChMo, we are presenting the work of our choreographer, Kelly Gauthier, who has been a member of the company since its inception. She has fully embraced the daring, badass, and empowered vibe of this season, but she unearths a darkness that highlights the fear many women have experienced in recent months. She has a profound way of forcing the audience to experience the darkness that the dancers endure, while keeping them engaged and captivated. We cannot wait to see how Kelly takes on the challenges of NaChMo and promotes our message through her unconventional style and movement.
G: Experiment! Don’t be afraid to say whatever it is you want to say through dance - more likely than not, someone else is feeling the same way, but cannot figure out how to express it. If you have a concept in mind, try coming up with short phrases that convey the theme. Or try throwing on some music that evokes that specific emotion and see how your body moves to it. More often than not, our dances begin with a rough concept and a piece of music that we love. The music inspires the movement and often influences and refines the concept. We also always recommend that emerging choreographers find a mentor or established choreographer in the area to help get his or her feet off the ground. It is inspiring to work alongside other artists, and we have been so lucky to create some wonderful projects with other companies and choreographers in the area