Read about Nicole's experience in her own words:
"My residency with Thread was extraordinarily productive. Occurring across multiple locations and ranging from deep engagement with community to times of extended solitude, this opportunity was a catalyst for me as an artist. I described the project I was working on as:
Using the medium of movement-based performance, I intend to work on a project I’m calling “the Welcome Table.” I’m interested in using the lens of food, its preparation, its cultivation and the ways in which people, families and communities consume and dispose of it-as a way of telling black women’s stories. I want to explore the ways questions of food justice, social justice and environmental justice all interweave in women’s lives. I would come to the residency with a series of ethnographies based on recipes that come from my own family. I will use these as a source of movement score and performance text. While there, I am interested in engaging the local Senegalese community to continue to develop these foodways stories. I would work with the residency coordinators to make community connections and set up experiences where I would be the leaner. I would not be assuming the role of researcher wherein I am there to understand the culture of the people through a western lens. Instead, I am interested in working with women willing to teach me to prepare their signature dishes-and perhaps a few signature moves as well. I am open to the multiple and surprising forms this may take and the ways those experiences will lead me into movement.
I believe I was able to achieve my goals.
During the first part of my residency I was located at Ecole de Sables, working with Germaine Acogny, Irene Tassembedo, Flora Thefaine, and Elsa Wolliaston, four of the most prominent contemporary choreographers in West Africa. Artists from around the world attended the workshop, creating a rich and inspiring artistic community. We danced for 6 hours a day, digging deeply into Africanist dance techniques, engaging in individual research, sharing work, and ultimately working together to create a performance that was shared at French Cultural Center in Dakar. From there, I traveled to Sinthian via Tambacounda, to focus completely on my Welcome Table project. My regular practice involved morning solo movement rehearsals; afternoon cooking sessions with our resident chef, Angelique; and many evenings dancing with the local girls. I also had the opportunity to witness a performance rehearsal from the local school that included dance as well as spoken word. As part of that experience, I offered a brief contemporary dance class for interested students that I am hopeful was filmed! Another significant element of the residency was the opportunity to work along-side the other artists at Threads. In particular, composer James Smith worked with me on a music score for my choreography. We only crossed paths for a few days, but his collaboration proved to be a critical spark and I utilized the score we created for my work in progress showing of the piece April 6 and 7 in Boston, MA.
This was such a rich experience—the opportunity to experience several regions in Senegal, to work with artists from all of the world, and the time and space to work deeply on my solo practice was truly invaluable. As mentioned above, I created a solo during my time at Thread which I premiered at the We Create Festival in Boston, MA. I’ll have a video of the piece soon that I’ll happily forward."