YabYum Seven: Nicole Olson

olson4Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Nicole L Olson. I am an artist; dance is my genre. My medium is the human body. I use it to choreograph and perform; tell stories. Influence moods. Create images.

How did you get your start?

I’m originally from Wisconsin. I always knew I would be a dancer; never wanted to be anything else. First studied at Milwaukee Ballet School, and then received my BFA from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. My whole life I have used movement to create the fantasies that I see in my head. Dance makes me feel alive. It’s the best high there is.

What inspires you?

People inspire me. Their stories, plights, loves, traumas; even their normal day-to-day is inspirational to me. If you watch people, their body language, their souls, you are reading a thousand books. For me, words are not necessary to express what people feel. We innately speak without uttering a word. Everyone can notice it, if they take the moments to see.

What do you like about AZ?

I would say my “family of choice” is what I like the most. olson3I am surrounded by the most loving, creative, exciting people! They laugh with me, cry with me, hold my hand, stand next to me. My life is made so full by these outstanding people.

Where can we see you(r) work?

I am Associate Director/Principal Dancer with Scorpius Dance Theatre, and have performed with them for 16 seasons. I am also a Guest Artist with Center Dance Ensemble, along with performing for Liliana Gomez.

Independently, I have created choreography for Phoenix Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, Phoenix Opera, and have performed my work as a soloist here in Phoenix and in many different cities throughout the country.

My next project – coproducing a site specific work with Elisa Marie Cavallero and Liliana Gomez at {9} The Gallery entitled Gods and Monsters, which will premiere in June [more info here].

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I would love to see as much of the world as possible; to witness the cultures, the environment, the energy of the amazing people who inhabit our planet. Learn from them, experience their worlds. And if I get to do some more art along the way, all the better.

What is your mantra?

I have two… – “Wear your heart on your skin in this life,” and “Kiss a lover, dance a measure, find your name and buried treasure.”



Scorpius Dance Theatre Presents A Vampire Tale

Lisa Starry’s Scorpius Dance Theatre has been bringing their unique brand of contemporary performing arts to Phoenix since 1999. This past weekend I caught my first performance from the company during their annual run of A Vampire Tale, something of a cult classic here in the Valley for dance lovers and vampire lovers alike. Saturday night marked the close of 10th year for A Vampire Tale, an event I already have plans to see next year as well.

The story is a familiar one of minions and innocent young women being led into the dark lairs of hell

Photos by John Dea

fiends and then eaten. Conflicted love enters and adds a healthy dose of anguish to the storyline. The performance itself combines traditional and modern dance with aerial arts. This year also included aerial pole artistry which is as different from stripping as the name hopes to suggest.

This evening marked the final performance of David Starry, Lisa’s husband and company co-founder, as Viktor. He’s ready to turn the role over to another, feigning an aching back as the announcement was made to a packed house of disbelievers. After all, we just watched him descend into the theatre in a wicked display of physicality. But ten years is quite an impressive run for anyone.

Nicole Olson as the Vampire Queen and Alexis Stephens as Eve provided the perfect contrast of light and dark; striking innocence and alluring depravity. Jose Soto and Gavin Sisson were two of the most stand-out performances from the Vampire Klan for both their unholy athleticism and their commitment to their dark characters.  Lisa Hammond of the Vampire Klan captured my attention in group scenes with her nuanced humor in both movement and expression. Damon Dering was our “Strange Man” for the evening. He kept the audience on task and the narration lively… and he gave me candy.

ASU grad and accomplished composer Kristofer Hill wrote most of the pieces heard throughout the evening, the exception being a well-placed inclusion of Nine Inch Nails’ “Something I Can Never Have”.

I’ve decided to see every show Lisa Starry and her company put on, forever. Next February I’m looking forward to The Kick-A but really I can’t wait for Catwalk which combines dance, fashion, and Duran Duran in July. How will I not love it?

Scorpius Dance Theatre Studio offers classes for those that want to move beyond astonished audience member to active participant. There are plans for a new aerial studio as well which will open in November for the brave and muscular (or soon-to-be muscular).

For more information about Lisa Starry’s Scorpius Dance Theatre (company, studio, and performances included) head to their website here.

Photos by John Dea