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Impressions of Nicole Wolcott’s "PaperPieces"

Impressions of Nicole Wolcott’s "PaperPieces"
Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter

By Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter
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Published on October 7, 2014
Whitney Browne Photography

September 25, 2014; 8PM

Center for Performance Research

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Choreography & Performance: Nicole Wolcott

Sound Design/Collaboration: Omar Zubair

Lighting Design: Carrie Wood


Nicole Wolcott challenges the popular myth that “women can have it all” in her solo show PaperPieces. In her latest work, The Keigwin + Company co-founder, a mother and wife, as well as an independent choreographer, devises a world constructed of newspaper -- one which she desperately tries to control but instead, destroys, recreates, and re-purposes.

The 50-minute piece begins in Brooklyn’s Center for Performance Research’s entry gallery where we discover newspapers in a heap, like a pile of fall leaves. Wolcott, a wolf pouncing on her prey, penetrates the paper mountain surreptitiously. She moves wildly through the remaining shreds while fans swirl them around her lithe body. It’s a beautiful sight, but the dancing lacks meat -- that comes later.

Soon, docents usher the audience into the large studio theater where newsprint is laid out on the floor resembling a large area rug. Aluminum industrial lights, lining the perimeter of the stage, cast a bright, amber hue and reveal pops of vivid color on numerous New York Times pages.

Nicole Wolcott in PaperPieces by Whitney Browne Photography
Nicole Wolcott in PaperPieces by Whitney Browne Photography

Wolcott surveys her environment cautiously. But soon enough she takes us on a captivating journey through a whirlwind of mayhem. Crawling on all floors, belly to the ground like a soldier, then spinning ferociously and leaping through, on, and over the newspapers, Wolcott creates numerous sculptural islands and canyons. Though the paper landforms arouse curiosity, it’s Wolcott’s expressiveness that transfixes. She is a stirring performer. Her battles with the messy and transformative qualities of paper reveal her emotionally delicate state as she struggles to keep the elements in her life balanced. Knitting her brow, she attempts to stymie the chaos but eventually loses grip. “You want a piece of me?!” she hisses through gritted teeth while stumbling around the disarray.

After an outburst, Wolcott coolly collects herself and begins a monologue apologizing for her cluttered house. She exclaims, “I’ve been really busy.”

Up to this point her droll performance, illustrating her various life challenges through idiosyncratic mannerisms, silly baby talk and unruly dancing, cleverly immersed us in the absurdities of our over-scheduled culture. The speech, however, interrupted the experience of Wolcott’s engrossing, off-kilter world -- a pit stop in “reality” that seemed unnecessary.

Nicole Wolcott in PaperPieces by Whitney Browne Photography
Nicole Wolcott in PaperPieces by Whitney Browne Photography

Fortunately, Wolcott brings us back to her kooky home. Tucking newspaper into her pants, she creates an a-line skirt and proceeds to wad more paper under her shirt molding the image of a baby in a sling. Wolcott struts and sashays preceding a moment of “alone time” with her imaginary husband. Playfully stroking an invisible body on the mound that serves as their bed, Wolcott ignores the clutter in the room. Cleverly switching from mother and wife to lover with the help of morphing newspaper, Wolcott’s magnetism is infectious.

Finally, tearing a large page of paper into a tiny square, she peers tenderly at, what we imagine, must be a photograph of her young daughter. The lights go out.

PaperPieces tells the familiar story of an overburdened mother, but Wolcott’s rich choreography and poignant interpretation lend a new twist.

 

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