By Nicole Harris
Nicole Harris: This is your first time choreographing for NACHMO. (WELCOME!) What are you most nervous and most excited about the experience of creating work in a month?
Libby Bullinger: Thank you for the welcome! The element of NACHMO Boston that stands out to me in particular is the amount of mentorship opportunities involved. As a fresh-out-of-college choreographer, I have definitely struggled with the transition from strictly laid out assignments, weekly choreography classes, and constant peer and faculty feedback that I received in my dance department to being an independent choreographer with free rein and minimal creative feedback. NACHMO has opportunities for group meetings, individualized mentorship, and peer-mentoring that seem to simulate the environment I learned to choreograph in. I anticipate this month will help ease my personal progression from student to working in the professional world.
I’m, of course, nervous that my choreography won’t be “good enough” or “up to standard,” but I have come a long way in terms of how I frame my own achievement. I look forward to this journey being about the process of creation and a catalyst for creativity, with some guidance along the way from a variety of sources. Low stakes, huge opportunity for growth and fun!
N: You returned to Boston during Covid after your college graduation. What made you want to come back here? What have you been doing since you returned?
LB: I’ve always loved Boston, and as soon as I realized I didn’t want to pursue dancing professionally I knew I wanted to move back to my favorite city post-graduation. There are so many opportunities for creative humans here in Boston, and I have been jumping at every chance I can to get reconnected with the arts community after four years away at college.
Dance education and choreography are my passions, so I have been teaching dance at studios around the city and started my artistic collective, Dance LAB, over the summer. Since then, my work has been performed at two separate events: at the Dance for World Community Festival and as a guest artist in Nozama Dance Collective’s DISSENT show. I can’t wait to keep creating and learning from the artists around me, and NACHMO is the perfect combination of those goals with a friendly push to get to work!
N: Having started your career during Covid how are you building community in Boston. How can programs like NACHMO Boston help artists who are starting out in a Covid world?
LB: I’m a people-oriented person, so the physical limitations that COVID placed on interactions, especially creatively, definitely impacted the way that I approach choreographing. My goal as an emerging choreographer is to make as many connections with other creative people as I can. One resource that has been invaluable is my membership with Boston Dance Alliance. I was able to attend their Open Call Audition and discovered some incredible dancers that I get to work with in my piece for this year’s NACHMO performance! Word of mouth and social media have also been great catalysts for growing my own network.
Of course, the concept of the location-based NACHMO chapters is another example of fueling meaningful connections among the dance community, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to work with this year’s cohort of choreographers. COVID definitely altered our perspectives on the idea of community, so involvement in community-based programs like NACHMO is a way to reenter that aspect of the creative process.
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?
LB: This summer I saw KAIROS Dance Theater’s work in progress showing of “Folktales, Fables, and Feasts.” The athleticism and variety of the dancers’ movement was astounding, and their ability to convey the plotline of the opera fit right in with their collaboration with RenMen. I can’t wait to see the premiere this year!