By Nicole Harris
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(P.S.You can support Christopher and all of Monkeyhouse’s fiscally sponsored artists here!)
N: This is your fourth NACHMO, making you a pro! Do you have any advice for first time participants or artists who have felt nervous about taking the challenge?
Christopher Croucher: Honestly, I feel like NACHMO is the perfect way to shake off those nerves. The way that NACHMO Boston supports the choreographers really makes it a choose-your-own-adventure kind of challenge. Put in as much or as little energy as you have to give, really, it’s okay! As Brenna Banister and Alive Dance Collective say, we’re full time humans and part time dancers. It’s okay to jump in at the deep end or stick a toe in the wading pool. No matter what, you’re going to take something from this experience!
I think the most important things to remember are that 1. This should be fun, otherwise why do it? and 2. You’re stepping into one of the least judgmental and most supportive communities you’ll find in the dance world…enjoy it. You never know what will come out of it until you shake it off and go for it.
N: You have been incredibly busy in the last year working on Letting the Land Lead. Can you tell us a little more about it? Where are you hoping it goes from here?
There’s a lot of growing to do but when I look back on all that’s happened in 2022 and particularly since NACHMO 2021, I know that growth is absolutely possible!
N: With all the site specific work you’ve been doing, how are you translating work that is made to be done outside in nature to an indoor traditional performance space?
CC: Site specific work is very important to Letting the Land Lead and its function of connecting folks to their ecological environments, however, the backbone of the creative process for LTLL is actually pretty translatable. It starts with a somatic meditation practice that I do with participants and performers and we create the movement from there. It may be that, for this NACHMO, instead of starting in-studio and bringing the movement outside to let the land lead, I’ll start outside and bring it in…we’ll see!
N: Monkeyhouse and NACHMO Boston believe that we wouldn’t be here without the support of our community. Who is one of your favorite local choreographers and why?
CC: I’m going to cheat a little and mention two choreographers because I met them both through the National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellowship this year and I really love the work they’re both doing. There are certainly more, including more I met during the Fellowship, but I’ll keep it as brief as I can.
The first is Ellice Patterson who is the Artistic Director of Abilities Dance Boston. Ellice is a wonderful person and also an incredibly powerful activist for social change. The company not only creates dance work that centers dancers who identify as disabled, telling the truths of their own stories, but also works towards extending true accessibility to all people of all needs in the performing community and beyond, even to the point of fighting for changes to legislation that will support this work. I am truly humbled by the force of change that is Ellice Patterson. (abilitiesdanceboston.org)
And Amanda Whitworth. Amanda is a co-founder of Articine, an organization that brings together the worlds of art and medicine to both support health care workers and inspire them to treat their patients from a place of deeper compassion and humanity. The ideas and research behind this work are truly fantastic and Amanda herself is an incredibly kind and supportive person who clearly loves the work she does. Her excitement for it is palpable and infectious and makes me smile whenever I get a chance to speak with her. (articine.org)
Truly, the dance world, and the world as a whole, is better for the work these two choreographers are doing.