100 Creatives: Marissa Alma Nick, Dancer Who Makes Miami Move
In honor of our "People" issue, which will hit newsstands November 17, New Times proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes. Have suggestions for future profiles? Let us know in the comments.
#96: Marissa Alma Nick
You can thank a shitty Tom Cruise film for bringing dancer and choreographer Marissa Alma Nick back to Miami.
A native and New World grad, Nick received a BFA from the University of South Florida and spent her post-collegiate years landing dance gigs in Los Angeles before a Miami-based production beckoned her home. It was on the set of the 2011 film Rock of Ages that Nick decided she could put her passion for choreography to work in Miami. Recognizing that the city was in the midst of a cultural transformation, Nick made plans to set down her own roots.
She began experimenting with site-specific performances, taking dance off the stage and into a much more visceral context. Her work led her to the role of director of Tigertail Miami's Screendance festival, where she curated a score of international dance films while partnering with choreographers from across the globe. In 2015, she founded ALMA Dance Theater, named after her beloved grandmother and designed to be a hub for female creative expression through movement. Under her direction, ALMA's seven-dancer troupe presents visually stunning, immersive performances that envelope the viewers into Nick's choreographic dreamscape.
That's all part of the draw for Nick, who believes that movement can stretch beyond the body, and bring your imagination into a totally experiential other-world. We can only hope she'll continue to bring Miami into the fold.
List five things that inspire you.
So many things inspire me, but I'd say I'm most inspired by women, the soul, our human condition, the body and the expression of the body, and the unexpected moments in life that change us.
What was your last big project?
We did "Mira el Mar" for Grass Stains, a site-specific fellowship produced by Pioneer Winter Collective and funded by the Knight Foundation and Florida State Division of Cultural Affairs. It was a site-specific piece, performed on the beach in Surfside. The piece was about the rising sea levels in Miami Beach – not so much political, but more of the idea of the humanity behind it. It considers what people are going to be like in the future when we survive this new tide of rising sea levels.
We also performed our production of Cask, which is based on an Edgar Allen Poe poem. We perform it every year around Halloween, and it changes a little every year, but we were finally in the theater. We used aerial silks for the first time, and the audience was seated in a circle with the dance happening in the center of the circle.
What's your next big project?
We're doing something for Art Basel with Christina Pettersson.
What do you want Miami to know about you?
I work really hard, and so do the girls. We work so hard for everything, and our success is really earned. We're putting in six days a week just to put on one show. And I think in art sometimes that's overlooked, it's more about the finished product and not the process.
What don't you want Miami to know about you?
There's nothing I don't want to tell people. I'm an open book, I'm like that with my art and my life. I can't think of something - I don't have secrets. There's nothing I don't want people to know. I think that's what makes me more accessible as a performer and choreographer.
What's one thing you want people to know about Miami?
Miami is looked at sometimes as this very materialistic city with all these new shopping malls popping up. But the thing that's also very unique about it is its culture, and there is community, and we do really give a shit about one another. That's how I've been able to survive. And not just as an artist, just as an entire community, we are one. We're not just egomaniacal, self-involved narcissists out to get another dollar. We really do care.
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