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  • Nicole (Johnson) Williams

21. a moment… of silence… or solitude… of solace.

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Today is the 5th day of December, 2021. We left Detroit a little over 4 months ago. Since then, I guess we’ve just been rebuilding. I haven’t really had it for writing, posting, calling, responding to just about anything that isn’t a work email. That all felt like too much. I’ve had just enough to…… rebuild. During the transition from Michigan to Massachusetts, I waited for a shift. A moment when I would start to FEEL different. I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to muster up all the magic I could find in me. I listened closer, closer, closer…. Nothing. I tried to write. Nothing. Then I started to realize that maybe I’m waiting and waiting on something that will never feel different. Perhaps I just AM different. Perhaps I’ve been changing (growing; becoming) little by little for years. And now as I look around, everything just IS different.


Nothing is the same. Nothing feels familiar. Maybe that’s a good thing.


The new possibilities are literally endless.


I’m finding my way. I’m finding my voice.


It’s time to manifest and create something new.


I miss home terribly. Everyday. I also love the “new” we get to build here. I can’t call it home yet, but it is definitely a whole new world.


This fall, I set a new piece of work on a new group of dancers in a new space. The piece is about coming out of an ill-fitting life. Something about new wine in old wine skins, or caterpillars and chrysalises, or deep car conversations with myself. Years of outgrowing an old and played out narrative…. An amalgamation of all that.


Here is a peek at the dress rehearsal from our fall concert. I’ve been blown away by the facilities here, which surpass the quality of many university departments I’ve visited and worked in. Being able to create this work alongside a professional costumer and technical designer allowed me to be intentional about exactly how my message would be conveyed. The level at which these students are learning about and becoming immersed in the artistic process is faaaaaaar beyond what I had access to in high school. This group of dancers came in at the beginning of the term with a wide range of movement experience. We trained regularly (6 days a week) in Horton and Release Technique. For many of the dancers, this type of movement was brand new. I liked seeing them grow in the two disciplines because they learned to be strong, accurate, and flexible (Horton) while also learning to be fluid and building a comfortable relationship with the floor (Release).


[They also learned “the jazz warm up” from my 2020 MCDF season. Hearing the songs in class always makes me feel a little closer to home]


The working title is Seiche. The first time I’d ever heard the word was in working in artistic residency with my dear friend, the late Marcus White. Marcus was a true storyteller for the people. He was fluent in Vogue, House, and Contemporary, which he used to challenge and explore stories, systems and ideas. He encouraged me to start taking myself seriously as a performer, technician, and academic. He trusted my talent, my intuition, and my intellect and encouraged me to do the same by seeing me and believing in me unconditionally, which has been my most gratifying work in progress ever since.


So, I hope you enjoy this first draft. It’s about working hard to make it all look easy, then realizing that perhaps making it look easy is hard because what you’re doing isn’t aligned with who you are. It’s about the inner dialogue that happens in those private moments of learning to believe in yourself and committing to the discipline necessary to pivot; accepting that life is in no way linear.





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