Review Fix chats with dancer Nicole Colbert, who discusses her origin in the art and the 2018 goals for her dance troupe.
The Nicole Colbert Dance/Theater will be performing in an evening-length shared concert with Ballet Mink March 9 & 10, 2018 at 8pm, at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, 421 Fifth Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11215. Tickets are $20 general admission & $15 for students & seniors & can be purchased at www.nicolecolbertdance.com or www.BAX.org.
For more information about Colbert, please visit www.nicolecolbertdance.com.
Review Fix: When did you first get involved in dance?
Nicole Colbert: I grew up in Westbeth, an historic artist housing building in the West Village, in a loft apartment where my mother, a dancer, taught creative movement when I was a child. So, I started movement classes—you know “grow like a flower & dance in the rain”— very early. My mother also taught ballet, but I didn’t really like ballet at the time, so as I got older, I explored my own path in dance & studied modern & jazz intensively & then was drawn to choreography in college.
Review Fix: How was this dance company born?
Colbert: I have what’s called a pick-up company which means I cast specifically when I have a show. I’m currently working with 6 dancer/performers for a few upcoming shows. However, for the past 1-2 years, I’ve been working with dancers, Emma Pressman, & Victoria Dombroski & Efren Sanchez, an actor. They are absolutely amazing. I also have two artists I work with In New Orleans: Mary Carol Chenet, a dancer, & Richard Bates, a musician who have been really important collaborators for me. I’ve learned that it’s not so much about how many people you have to work with, but the quality of the relationships. I’m very grateful to the performers in NYC & New Orleans who have really believed in me & been absolutely central to bringing my creative visions to life.
Review Fix: What makes you guys special?
Colbert: I think what makes us special is the commitment to creating a platform for multicultural & intergenerational performers. I make a conscious effort to cast dancers/performers from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, as well as ages, and body types. In the art world, you have to resist the norms. As I grow, I hope to expand this kind of inclusive space for performers.
Review Fix: Who do you gain inspiration from?
Colbert: If you ask my friends, they would immediately say I am highly inspired by Pina Bausch (1940-2009), a German choreographer who heightened the art of dance/theater. However, I draw inspiration from many sources from dance to theater to visual art. In addition, I have studied all kinds of dance: ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, & hip hop & would say my vocabulary is inspired by the different qualities of all these dance forms.
Review Fix: How do you want people to feel after your performances?
Colbert: I want people to have a visceral experience, to be engaged, as well as entertained. When I presented Last Stop: Desire my dance/theater adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which wove together dance & theater, the aim was to extend the expressivity of each. An audience member approached me after the show & told me that she rarely ever sees dance, but she said she felt the emotional life of the characters very strongly in those dance moments. I want my work to offer even a tiny moment in which people see their own lives, & in doing so, is a little gift to them.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2018?
Colbert: This year will be about continuing to work on Last Stop: Desire to present again at the 2019 Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans. I’ll be working with a dramaturg on expanding the text & exploring the play in a different historical context. I have ideas for other dance/theater pieces, but it can take a long time to craft a work. It took over a year to shape the home (project) which will have its premiere this month. So, if I get Last Stop: Desire completed this year & ready for the Festival next year, as well as create some smaller works to be performed, that will be a lot.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Colbert: I have a concert on March 9 & 10 at BAX in Brooklyn & I’ll be on a program at Dixon Place called “8 in Show” on March 28th. I’m also working with Greg Lambousy, the director of the New Orleans Jazz Museum, on curating the dance part of a program for several events happening in New Orleans at the end of 2018. December is big for New Orleans: it’s the tri-centennial—300 years as a city! I’ve seen billboards in Union Square train station advertising it already. It’s also Luna Fete which is a big light festival, and the Museum’s annual gala. So, the city, as always, will be full of celebration. I’m also starting to plan the program for next summer’s performance in Denmark, and we’re hoping to present in a few other places in Europe.