By Nicole Harris
Learn more about NACHMO and take the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge by following us on Instagram!
Nicole Harris: You are a NACHMO pro by now. Do you have any advice for newcomers or those who have been nervous to take the NACHMO challenge?
Marissa Chura: Remember that NACHMO Boston is one of the most welcoming and supportive dance communities around! No one is being competitive with each other, or trying to tear anyone down. Something I love about NACHMO is that there’s no hierarchy among the participants- everyone has something to offer, everyone’s contributions and creations are valued and appreciated.
Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself! That’s something I have to remind myself a lot when choreographing, and it’s especially true in NACHMO. This whole process of creating something in a month can feel really intimidating, and it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of creating that “perfect” final product- and for me, that’s not what NACHMO is about. Don’t get so stressed about your final piece that you miss out on the overall experience, because this really is such a great opportunity to experiment with movement and connect with so many other artists.
N: You generally create solo work for NACHMO. What draws you to creating for yourself? How do you keep yourself feeling connected to a community when your rehearsals are just you?
MC: For NACHMO specifically, one reason for solo work is just practicality- this is a very fast-paced endeavor and with my current schedule and location, it just makes more sense to create solo work than to try and coordinate with a group. On a more general note, I’m often drawn to creating solo work because it gives me an opportunity to explore movement that feels satisfying in my own body. Sometimes in a class or rehearsal for something, you’ll find that one movement that just feels really satisfying, but then you might have to move onto the next thing without getting to explore that movement as much as you might want to. So I guess in a way, creating solo work is my “me-time” when I get to revisit those sensations that interest me and keep digging deeper into them. It’s an opportunity to focus on what feels good to my body, and then figure out how to build more movement around that.
I think NACHMO Boston makes it really easy to feel connected to the community even when I’m creating something by myself. There are so many opportunities to directly connect with other people, especially through the various mentoring opportunities. I love group and peer mentoring. It’s always so interesting to hear about other people’s processes and see what they are working on throughout the month, and it’s just a great opportunity to connect with other local artists! Another thing that helps me feel connected is the daily prompts. I don’t necessarily use all of them for my actual piece, but I definitely like to play with them. To know we’re all getting the same daily prompts to play with, and then to be able to see how other choreographers are interpreting the prompts through social media, makes me feel really connected to the larger NACHMO community.
MC: I’ve been really grateful this past year to be able to present my work in some different places. I took the solo I created for NACHMO 2022 (“Intentions, or Lack Thereof”) to the Salem Arts Festival last summer as part of their Tiny Dance Stage series. That was a really interesting experience adapting that solo for that particular setting- taking a relatively somber piece that I initially performed on a full stage with low lighting, and then performing it on a 4’x4’ wooden platform outdoors on a sunny day. I also recently collaborated with Chloe Carlson of GUSTO Dance on a duet called “Dialogue…Or Who’s in Charge Here?”, which we presented in Metamorphosis Dance’s Works in Progress Showing in December. That piece is heavily driven by audience interaction and includes elements of humor and improvisation/adapting material on the spot, which is very different from the work I usually present. That’s something I’ve had a lot of fun working on, and we’re now looking for opportunities to expand the piece and continue performing it together, so I’m excited to see where that takes us!
As far as next steps for me: I have this piece that I’m creating now for NACHMO, which I wish I could say more about, but if I’m being completely honest, I still know very little about what the final product is going to look like. Which would have stressed me out a lot in the past, but right now I’m kind of excited that I have so many different ideas of where I could be going with this. I guess we can all be surprised together when the live performances happen (March 3rd-5th)! I’m also in my second season of dancing with Urbanity Underground, and we have our Creative Class show coming up Feb. 17th & 18th. We’ll be performing new work created by members of Underground, as well as Urbanity’s Junior Apprentices. Other than those performances, my main goal for this year is just to push myself to choreograph and create more. I’m excited to see what the year will hold!
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?
MC: There are so many incredible local artists that it’s hard to choose! One of my personal favorites is Duets for a Lifetime- Lynn Modell and Ruth Benson Levin. The first time I saw their work was NACHMO 2021- they created a dance film called “Basement Airlines” that still makes me smile every time I think of it. Their work is really clever and full of surprises, and you can feel the genuine connection and friendship between them when they perform together. If you haven’t seen their work yet, definitely check them out!