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Meet MMDF2020 Performer Cory “Nova” Villegas

With Making Moves Dance Festival 2020 right around the corner, we are excited to introduce Cory “Nova” Villegas, one of the eleven participants in the online event. Cory is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Soul Dance Co.: The Soul Experience. Her training experience includes The Ailey School, Lehman and Hunter College. Cory is interested in the intertwining of Afro-Latin forms with traditional styles, technique and its marriage with music and poetry. While she has been training in Salsa On2 since she was five years old, it was a moment in college that truly led her to pursuing her passion with purpose. We spoke to her about this moment and more below. Read up on her story and RSVP for free to watch Cory and Soul Dance Co.: The Soul Experience.


1. What inspired you to commit to being an artist? How did you choose dance as your art-form? Our audience would love to hear about influential moments that led you to pursue dance as a career.

What inspired me to commit to be an artist was an incident that occurred to me while in college. I was in a composition class and I had chosen to create an Afro-Latin Fusion piece, where my cast was 5 black women and the music was Cuban sounds of “Guaguanco.” I remember having weekly showings and the chair of the department telling me that my salsa aesthetic and sound was too much of a party. That no one would pay to see salsa put on a proscenium. It was at that moment both the feeling of quitting and wanting to prove something really took over me. Why was salsa not something people saw in concert dance? Why was it only considered social and not a valuable technique? It was then that I decided that I needed to be the one to normalize social dance in the concert realm. I vowed that very moment that this Spicy Latina from the Bronx would rumble concert dance stages by casting dancers of color, using traditional salsa and Afro Cuban Rhythms and by creating marathon pieces. Black people can dance and it should not have been such a big deal that I was casting black woman to do so.

2. What are some special elements of your work, regarding your upcoming performance that you'd like to share with us? Is there anything you'd like to say about what we might expect?

F.R.E.E.D. takes us through the stages of freedom. REVOLT, an excerpt of the piece discusses this idea of revolting against these ideas of masculinity and femininity and how that is measured. The quest really is to be free in who you want to be, without seeking the validity of definitions from society. Likewise, La Liberación discusses a coming of freedom and Liberada is being in the state of freedom. The piece takes you through the anxieties and uncertainty of get you there, but you get there. Particularly however, this version of F.R.E.E.D. takes you through process, through the use of openness of space and overall my choices through using already staged work with new work. The piece is a true execution of the evolution of its creation.

3. What offers you inspiration for your work? What are the things in your "universe" that give you motivation to make your work?

What offers me inspiration for my work is really my Latin dance background and what that means to me and my place in the world. My background as an artist really stems from my Salsa training. My quest is deeply rooted in honoring culture but finding a space for social dance in concert dance and those things being held to the same prestige. Some of the influences that influence my creative process are a lot of what I’ve picked up from taking class with Ronald K. Brown and his company. There all these telling’s of stories, spirituality and influences and holding true to that is the main goal. I love walking into the studio with a room full of dancers where I just move, and they follow. A lot of my movement echo’s that of salsa so its familiar and authentic. I like to come up with phrases and have dancers rearrange order and really form their own relationships with phrase work. I strive to create a full body experience and love to use the body in the most physical ways. If you don’t feel pushed beyond your limit, then did I really tap into that extremity is normally what I ask myself. As a choreographer I fight to include the stories of the world and dancers and how they make me feel individually. I seek to create a space where there is no gender, no labels or limitations but instead the intensity of hitting the step. Cory “Nova” Villegas Soul Dance Co.: The Soul Experience F.R.E.E.D. Excerpts.

4. What are your goals and aspirations going forward as a dancer; an artist?

My aspirations moving forward as an artist is to continue to ring bells in the concert dance world because I brought the Latin heat, eventually paving the way for more Salsa dancers to not feel like concert dance is its own world. Dance for me is universal and as a choreographer, I hope to create that space. But I also aspire to bring back the idea that dance is a feeling. Anyone who’s taken any one of my classes or danced any of my choreography, will attest that yes you must have a different kind of endurance, but the endurance comes from the feeling of invitation. Inviting people into your story and in to your world and that is what I strive for.

Social Media: Facebook: Soul Dance Co.: The Soul Experience LLC Instagram: @_thesoulexperience Hash tags: #souldanceco #thesoulexperience #souldancecothesoulexperience


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