By Nicole Harris
N: How have you been handling quarantine? What have you been doing to keep moving and creating during this year?
SC: As an extrovert with a typically very busy schedule, quarantine has been really hard. I’ve tried to do as many walks and outdoor activities as possible, both alone and with friends and loved ones, in order to still have some social time (and lots of phone calls and Zoom chats). After some initial numbness/resistance in the early pandemic times, I soon started taking online dance master classes and yoga classes – and I started some online teaching in the fall which really helped me get back into the creative groove.
N: What will you be making for NACHMO? Will you be working with dancers or on your own?
SC: I’m making a tap piece based around one of my favorite pieces of classical-jazz music; I’m working on it as a solo.
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?
This is my first time doing NACHMO, so I don’t have past years to compare to. However, I will do a LOT more improv/self-filming and then selecting aspects I like to build upon. I use my computer and phone to note my choreography ideas much more than I used to, even speaking steps and rhythms into Voice Memos! At the start of the month, the first thing I did was reflect quietly and listen to what inspired me – and pretty quickly, an idea came to mind that started with the music.
N: A lot happens in a short amount of time during NACHMO. What are you most excited about in this process? What are you most nervous about?
SC: I’m most excited about feeling the collective motivation and push to create something, and the opportunity to connect with other choreographers. I’m most nervous about actually creating something that I feel is “good” and interesting – not boring or “standard.”
These choreographers came to mind because they each have a powerful voice and commitment not only to making creative work, but also to building collaborative, loving communities. They are supportive of others and dedicated to making the Boston dance scene a thriving one.
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?
SC: I had the joy of taking class with Dianne Walker over the past couple of years, pre-pandemic, and she is one of the most fun, funny, and nurturing mentors you will ever find. She is hugely supportive of the Boston (and global) tap scene and encourages all of her students with such love! Most recently, another wonderful mentor has been Brenda Bufalino. I took a virtual course with her in the fall, which launched into individual mentorship, and she has shared so much insight, not to mention tons of information and resources to help shape my process and work. The fact that someone so amazing (she has done so much in her life!) is willing to share her time – on Zoom, no less – with younger creators just shows how generous she is! Also: my mom has been one of my mentors! She is also a tap teacher, and has continued to coach and support, and to share her ideas with me as we both navigate the world of teaching virtually. I hope to pay it forward by teaching my own students with the same encouragement and openness that all of these women bring to the table – or tap floor.