February 10, 2013
By Christina Knight
No one in New York City faced the blizzard Nemo head-on quite like choreographer Nia Love in the early hours of Saturday morning.
More startling than any crowdsourced photos from around the city is Love’s seven-minute dance in the storm on quiet St. Nicholas Place in Harlem. The outdoor dance was her spontaneous decision at 2 am on February 9. “It was too beautiful,” said Love, and she enlisted her husband, jazz musician Antoine Roney, and her upstairs neighbor to film her.
As if the swirling flakes are pulling her from a hot summer day in another hemisphere, Love twirls past snow encased cars wearing a diaphanous white skirt and a thin, floral halter top that leaves her torso nearly entirely bared to the wind.
Love trained with Alicia Alonso at Cuban National Ballet in Havana and it’s easy to recall Balanchine’s Waltz of the Snowflakes in “The Nutcracker” as she chenees through the thick blanket of snow. But it’s Love’s background in Butoh and African dance that seem to influence her expression and connection to the natural event, making her appear part of the snow rather than a celebrant playing in it.
The music in the video is a remarkable instance of serendipity. After shooting, her husband found his arrangement of music by the late Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim. It fit Love’s improvisation perfectly and Roney added it to the video.
A resident of Harlem, Love has taught at public schools, dance centers and colleges for many years and is currently a guest artist and lecturer at Williams College. In May her collective Love|Forte will perform at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Love will produce a 30-minute work in collaboration with Germaul Barnes and Maurice Chestnut at E-Moves 14 at Harlem Stage in April.