Nicole Harris: What will you be doing for Uplift?
Lisa & Nicole: We will be performing a piece called “Purlieus.” It’s funny because we choreographed the piece before Nozama even announced the theme of their show this year and it is actually about how we support one another as a group of women!
N: We have been thrilled to hear about your recent focus on mental health. Can you tell us about LUCIDITY and why the topic is so important to you?
L&N: LUCIDITY is our upcoming production, premiering this fall! As artists, we’ve recently been focused a lot on who we are and what we want to say with our dancing and choreography. We believe mental health (not just illness!) is something that is not discussed enough in our day to day lives. We believe that taking care of your mental health should be just as important as taking care of your physical health… you workout to keep your body healthy, so why shouldn’t we discuss what’s going on with our mental states on a daily basis? There is so much stigma surrounding mental health and talking about emotions, and we want to end that! We all have emotions— happiness, sadness, anxiety, grief, excitement… the list could go on forever, but we want to bring those emotions to the surface and explore them without stigma. LUCIDITY is a compilation of the emotional experiences of us and our dancers and topics range from eating disorders to anxiety to injury induced depression, as well as community mentality, support systems, and authenticity. We are also partnering with a non-profit called “This is My Brave” (look them up if you don’t yet know them) and we will have a few of their speakers as a part of our show too! We are so excited to be part of UPLIFT because we think it is a great compliment to our show! Nozama works hard to empower women and in doing that they are also ending the stigma surrounding women’s emotions. And we think that is great!
N: Who are your mentors past and present?
Nicole: A past mentor of mine was my college dance professor, Missy Pfohl Smith. She shaped my choreographic mind before I even really understood what choreography was. Missy was the one who helped me bring my academic background of physics into my artistic and creative work and I am forever thankful for her continued presence in my life.
A current mentor of mine would be a current grad school professor, Mary Hale. I am pursuing a Masters in Architecture and Mary is a practicing architect with her own creative firm that works specifically with dancers in the performance realm! Mary has taught me so much so far and I am excited to keep learning from her in the next two years of my degree program.
Lisa: My biggest mentors are my former dance teachers, Karen White and Terry Paretti. They taught me every style of dance and instilled a pure love for the art form that dance can be. They also supported and encouraged me to pursue my dream of having a career in dance once I graduated from high school! A current mentor of mine is a former coworker and good friend of mine, Melenie Diarbekarian. Although we aren’t far apart in age, I am constantly blown away by her hard work and dedication. She is a part of some of my favorite local dance companies and is a bright light in everything she does. Not to mention someone I can count on to be my barre buddy in ballet class! Through our time in knowing each other, she has shown me how to make things work and keep the flame of passion burning inside no matter how crazy life gets.