GRADUATE STUDENT PROFILES
Cathy Nicoli, 2004
"Ironically, I saw the Smith MFA program as a time to have respite from being a working artist, even though it felt like I was "working" more than ever. I had been teaching professionally and performing in a company I was co-director of since earning my BA in dance and performance studies. After eight years of being in the field performing for myself and others, teaching in inner-city schools and on my own, and choreographing for bi-annual concert seasons, I saw Smith as a retreat: two years of not worrying about promoting myself or the company, two years of not worrying how to have the company make payroll. By coming to Smith I made a commitment to focus on a more silent, less goal-oriented relationship to my work. I rediscovered play in my process, because I had the time and resources. I also got to refine my teaching style and philosophy -- again because I had the time and resources (a consistent schedule and studio space with consistent students in it) to do so.
"All and all, Smith to me was about finding the time and resources to step back and listen to the changes that were inevitably taking place within my artistic voice. These changes were easier to hear by taking a couple years off, moving to a new location and working with different people. When we are in a room for long enough, we lose our sense to smell what is particular about that room. Walking into the studios at Smith, my senses were reawakened. Often I feel that "working" artists aren't necessarily "learning" artists. In grad school my artistic voice, (that was in a way being silenced by being so caught up in making a living), found room to play and learn - because I made the choice to spend several months out of the year focusing on exploration more than production. And ultimately, the relationships I formed at Smith have had an immense affect on my life now - in friendship, in work, and in a sense of home and place."
Cathy Nicoli taught one year as visiting artist at Roger Williams University and Providence College. She then was a visiting assistant professor of dance at Hampshire College for three years. Cathy has produced full evenings of her choreography at A.P.E in Northampton. She is now teaching as an adjunct professor within the Five College Dance Department and at Keene State College and continues to work independently as a choreographer.