By SUSAN BROILI
It took moving to an entirely new place – Berlin in July 2016 – for Chapel Hill native and Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA) co-founder Nicola Bullock to change the way she approaches dance-making as well as how she sees herself.
She performs her new, evening-length solo “IMAGO,” as part of DIDA’s third season, at 8 p.m. today (Thursday, Jan. 11), Friday (Jan. 12) and Saturday (Jan. 13) as well as Jan. 18, Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 at The Durham Fruit Co., 305 S. Dillard St., Durham, NC.
For tickets, go to www.nicolabullock.com
Bullock describes “IMAGO” as a “phantasmagorical sci-fi dance theater work” in which she first appears as a masked alien in an unfamiliar world and gradually morphs into a human form.
Artistic reasons had initially prompted Bullock’s decision to move to Berlin where many artists were pushing the boundaries of what dance/performance could be, she said in a phone interview.
She found their work inspiring. Berlin also prompted personal introspection and revelations. “So much of what I thought I knew about myself was challenged,” she has said.
“I left so much – a stable home, stable jobs, friends. I knew myself well here. When life was more contained, it was easier to portray the image I put out in the world,” she said in the interview.
“I think in Berlin, I just stopped being afraid to be those things – woman, queer, artist – and not be a particular ‘idea’ I have of them. Womaness, queerness and being an artist isn’t only the singular things I thought they were. And, the idea that I thought I needed to conform to a particular way of being in order to be successful – like feminine or radical or constantly creative – was misguided,” Bullock said.
“Out of this recognition came a different approach to dance-making – one that was much more accepting of whatever came out and less interested in what I thought I ‘should’ do onstage.”
She’s also noticed a change in how she relates to people. “It deepens the connection to other people when you stop pretending,” Bullock added.
Besides her experiences in Berlin, “IMAGO” inspirations include science fiction, Greek mythology, Golden Era movies, Impressionism – and her cousin’s Debutant Ball that Bullock had attended earlier this month.
“I love Impressionism. It gives a lot of elements of a scene. [The audience] gets to decide how to put it together,” she said.
As for that Debutant Ball, Bullock was seated at a table with single people and noticed the contrast between the “beautiful young women” who were making their debut and herself “a 34-year-old, queer, unruly artist.”
And, she found that she didn’t mind one bit. “After years of being something else, I’m really accepting what I am and what I do,” she said.
She also felt free in “IMAGO” to imagine what her own Debutant Ball would be like.