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The Journey of Love

Shea-Ra Nichi’s ‘Omni’
Sunday, April 28th, 3 p.m.
Cameron Art Museum, Brown Wing
$5/members, students • $10 GA
www.cameronartmuseum.com

CALL TO LOVE: Shea-Ra Nichi performs “Omni,” her four-year dance project, at CAM on Saturday at 3 p.m. Courtesy photo.

CALL TO LOVE: Shea-Ra Nichi performs “Omni,” her four-year dance project, at CAM on Saturday at 3 p.m. Courtesy photo.

There is a difference between one’s love of dance and one’s dance of love. Dancer and choreographer Shea-Ra Nichi incorporates both this weekend at Cameron Art Museum, fusing multiple styles of dance to express unconditional love. By blending Brazilian, Haitian, Cuban traditional dance with modern, she has created her own “Omni” dance. Omni, meaning “all,” represents Nichi’s take on the connections of all of life through movement.

A professional dancer since the age of 8, Nichi started in her hometown of Philadelphia before moving to the Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York. Her education led her to African dance, an inspiration she utilizes to emote deeper meaning of her dancing technique.

“I fell in love with the aspect of dancing to heal and to create (in the traditional sense),” Nichi says. “How can we use our bodies to bring out different forces from within? For example, dances that call forth elements of nature, environment and animals.”

Nichi has been working on “Omni” since 2009 as part of her personal journey to rediscover love in its truest form: altruistically. More so, the effect, she hopes, will lead people along the path with her.

“I believe in an art form that is interactive,” Nichi notes, “where each person in the performing space has an experience based on what they’ve seen. In the times we live in today, there are many types of sufferings and conditions of life. I wanted to create a dance form that expressed these conditions and attempted to begin a kind of community-healing for each viewer and myself. This is how the Nichi Technique came to be.”

A combination of folkloric dance styles, their approaches and traditions, the technique’s choreography draws on the traditions of the Congolese, Haitian, Brazilian and Cuban influences. Nichi created it out of the desire to contemporize folkloric movements and speak directly to today’s generations. At its heart is a free-form style, a progressive technique with roots in communicating life and reflects Nichi’s personal view on love: a selfless entity, which calls us to give ourselves to someone or something with complete joy and compassion.

Nichi opened rehearsals to expose the process of “Omni” for viewing by inviting four separate audiences at different times to gain feedback. Afterward, she held personal interviews with close friends to ask them to express their meanings of love. All of her research and traveling has led to Omni’s medley of influences and movements.

“I started working on Omni in terms of the concept itself,” Nichi says. “I was first influenced by several personal experiences that caused me to go beyond myself and comfort levels (such as my ego) and to embrace the unique opportunity to really give all of myself for a great cause.”

Though Omni is still incomplete, Nichi hopes to have a PR performance in NYC next year. Then, she will audition two other principle dancers, male and female, to begin her national tour. While normally dancers like to sprinkle on the glitter, Nichi will be dancing in it as little as possible.

“In NYC I will have my body painted from head to toe,” she explains. “I want to give the impression of life in its purest state and for the audience to be drawn in by the form of the movements, not distracted by the clothes that are worn.” At CAM’s performance, she will wear form-fitting, neutral clothing.

Nichi encourages, “We all have this potential within us for a greater life where we can create something of value that is uniquely ours to share with our communities. We have the power to bring about a better place in which we all can live and love, not just survive.”

The CAM performance will take place April 28th at 3 p.m. and will conclude with a Q&A; seating is limited to 30. Tickets are available at the door, with $5 for members and students, and $10 for general admission. Nichi has been working with UNCW Upperman African American Cultural Center as their resident artist since the summer of 2005 and teaches dance classes in both Wilmington and Fayetteville.

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