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N: You have done a whole lot since I interviewed you for NACHMO last year! Can you tell us a bit about the work you are currently touring?
AN: Yes! NACHMO 2021 feels like so long ago and so many things have happened since then. I’ve been using it as a marker for my year so I’m glad it’s always in January.
The work in question, 10 Recalling-20, is a collaboration between myself and Ashlea Sovetts, a South Carolina based dancer/choreographer. We both are Winthrop University alums and roomed together abroad many moons ago so the pandemic and reconnecting on Zoom is really how this piece started. We interviewed ten individuals varying in age, backgrounds, religions, orientations, and occupations about their experiences in 2020. Nodding to the fact that it was 10 individuals recalling 2020, we named the piece such and have taken inspiration truly from the stories told, gestures used, and connected the themes from each interview. One of things that still strikes me about the interviews was my favorite question we asked each of them: “What is one word to describe your year?” None of these participatns knew each other and they were all interviewed separately, however, three of the ten answers with “roller coaster.” It became a major theme of the work and inspiration for the entire second section of the piece.
We premiered at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in October and have been working our way up and down the east coast performing and presenting the process at the National Dance Education Organization Conference, the World Dance Alliance Assembly, and the Dance Studies Association Conference. We’re planning to bring it home to Boston in May alongside a few other artists for CURE8 Cambridge, another new venture of mine.
N: Ah yes, ‘Subtly Alice’ from last year’s NACHMO was such a shining light for me creatively. I had never made a dance on film and had really only dabbled in the process back in college with a film student, so it was a nice challenge for me. That process relied heavily on editing as we didn’t have as much time in the studio as I would to create a live piece. I was surprised in what we were able to accomplish with three rehearsals, well let’s call them filming sessions, and how I was able to meld my process to fit different schedules, maintain social distance and dive back into dance in person.
N: This year you are working on a solo for yourself. Can you talk about what your goals are and why you are using NACHMO to reach them?
AN: Something I learned in the last year is the importance of solo work. I was able to reconnect with a colleague of mine at the Equinox Dance Festival where we both were teaching master classes and presenting work. She mentioned that solo work, while rigorous and intentional, is something that you should always have in your back pocket. Realizing there is a work I’ve always wanted to build out, I’m using NACHMO for the mentorship and really the accountability to create a new solo work. My goal for this piece to process aging and birthday rituals as I close in on my 30th birthday this month.
AN: In so many other fields it is engrained that it’s all in who you know… well I’ve found it is the same in the arts. Maybe even more important. It was exciting last year to be able to meet some new people, see new dance and for some NACHMO participants watch the piece evolve for the Malden Dance Mile. I’ve also come into a mindset that nothing is ever truly finished. With 10 Recalling-20, every time Ashlea and I come into the studio there are new ideas, stronger ways to convey our message, and other avenues to explore. Strength needs time, and time creates strength. Ashlea and I have found a balance as a duo in collaboration and I’m always keen to mix in more of this in my life. Peer-to-peer mentorship is bigger than just creating something for NACHMO, it’s creating relationships in the greater Boston area and furthering the field of dance with deep meaningful conversation.
N: Like Monkeyhouse, you are a Malden resident. We have been thrilled to see the arts community here growing since we first arrived. What do you love about this community and how do you hope dance can thrive here moving forward?
AN: I’ve been living in Malden for going on three years now and I have loved to watch it grow! I really love the support of the local politicians like Mayor Gary Christenson. He’s always there for things, supports the arts, and I’ve caught him playing Pokémon Go on his breaks from the office, which I think is so funny! It’s been really affirming to see the stuff popping up in the center of town and the new forthcoming community arts center. Very exciting!
AN: So many locals I love! In the last few months, I’ve danced with and grown to know and love Rachel Linksy. She has such a wonderfully keen sense of herself and is always down to play. I’ve also been working more closely with Lonnie Stanton who inspires me every day to think somatically, be open to process, and invite others in.