ODC sat down with Nicole Klaymoon, the Founder and Artistic Director of the Embodiment Project. Klaymoon is also a co-director of the ODC Hip Hop Crew and a current ODC Theater Artist in Residence.
How has being an ODC Artist in Residence helped you as an artist?
The residency has supported me a lot in growing my company, Embodiment Project, as a non-profit – administratively, artistically, and around leadership and board development. Pretty holistically, there’s been exponential growth while I’ve been a resident artist.
Brenda Way, my advisor for the residency, is a businesswoman. She’s a badass. She has a very compelling skillset around getting people to invest in your vision. I see her as an elder who wants to pass the torch. She wants the next generation to surpass her. She has the maturity and wisdom to do this with grace. I feel held, supported, and seen in our relationship. She’s very maternal, and nurturing, with such generosity to share her own process and insecurities. So, she’s been key.
There are resources, like the Administrative Fellowship, that have provided us so much support. I wish such a resource for any dance-maker who has a company. There’s so much administrative work that goes into it sustaining your work. There’s so much upkeep, especially if you’re getting grant funding with all the reporting and the paperwork. It can take away from our ability to do what we’re getting the funding to do. The Administrative Fellowship has helped me to understand, that when you have the support, there’s so much more you can get done.
How has ODC built community among Bay Area Artists?
ODC is a heart in the Bay Area dance ecosystem. I love being in the café, because I’ll see a choreographer, then another choreographer, and I can just feel the presence of the dance community. ODC has really supported a lot of key individuals and it continues to be a place where you’ll see art-makers of many disciplines - just seeing people in passing – having a space that draws in important voices, whether they’re here to teach class, or take class, or if they’re a part of Sandbox, or hosting an audition, or this is where they rehearse or are doing a show in the theater. You just see folks. This space is associated with people who are actively pursuing dance and performance as their livelihood.
That is really unique. I lived in LA for six years. That was what I longed for – a central unifying space.
Why do you say, “Yes!” to dance?
We’re constantly telling our story in how we move, what we walk with, what our bodies carry, what we have lived through, what has been repressed, and what is our legacy. Our ancestral lineage, our family lineage, where we hold our pain, where we hold our joy. I’m constantly humbled by the intelligence of my body and what movement reveals to me about who I truly am. Body movement is how we really learn our authentic nature, especially with improvisation, street dance, or freestyling. I could watch someone freestyle for three minutes and understand who they are in their nature. I see you. Okay, now I know you.
One of my mentors, James Bell, he’s a restorative justice leader. He says, “The ills of humanity are cured by more humanity.” That’s what dance does; it gets us in touch with our humanity, our empathy, our rawness, our needs, and our emotional intelligence, which transcends spoken language.