Alumni Feature: Julian Nichols
Julian Nichols is from Mississauga, ON and was a member of CCDT during his final high school years as a dance major at Cawthra Park Secondary School. He originated roles in CCDT works by choreographers including Colin Connor, Santee Smith, Alexander Whitley, and Deborah Lundmark, and enjoyed numerous Ontario tours throughout his two seasons with the company. Since then, his dancing has taken him farther afield to Montreal, New York, Taiwan, and now London, England where he currently resides. Julian is an active member of the London dance community as a performer, teacher, choreographer, and the recent founder of Bodies in Action ~ enGendering Contemporary Dance, a company that promotes equality among all despite gender identity, race, age, sexual orientation, body type, and physical ability through both creations and diversity of its artists.
Tell us about your history with CCDT.
I joined the CCDT company when I was in grade 11 and ended up leaving the company after graduating high school. I was a company member for two years and had an unbelievably amazing experience. CCDT changed my perspective on dance as a whole, which ended up leading me to pursuing contemporary dance as a profession as a dancer and choreographer.
When thinking of any highlights or stand out moments, I would say the incredible relationships you build with fellow company members become an integral part of your experience and I am forever grateful for that. This, plus working with some of the most incredible international and national choreographers allows for you to flourish as a person and dancer. What else could I have asked for as a 17-, 18 -year-old?
What have you been up to since leaving CCDT?
After I left CCDT, I ended up studying at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. After graduating in 2017, I stayed in New York City for one year after. Working with both Nimbus Dance Works and The Limón Company, it was a year full of dance experience and learning. After that time in New York, I decided to leave and return back home to Toronto. Becoming accustomed to Toronto after so long of being away, I found it quite difficult to enter back into the dance scene and never knew if I wanted to stay as I've always considered Toronto my "home" and never a place of work. I was fortunate enough to work with Hanna Kiel's Human Body Expression for one of her projects whilst at home and I will forever cherish that experience with Hanna, her dancers, and rehearsal director Natasha Poon Woo. From Toronto, I decided to "hop the pond" in early 2019 to move to London, England. Currently, I am a freelance dancer, teacher, and choreographer that is always looking for ways to develop my artistry, challenge myself, and share what I can offer to the world.
Tell us more about your current endeavours. How has the ongoing pandemic affected your path?
As a professional dancer having entered the London dance scene for just less than a year when the pandemic struck, this altered my perspective on what I was doing as a dancer and affected my practice vastly. With nowhere to turn, I visited home, came back to London, went home again, and then returned a last time. Ultimately, this time of not being able to practice, congregate to see a show, or rehearse, it changed the path of what I wanted to do and gave me the availability to start to develop my own company. Bodies in Action ~ enGendering Contemporary Dance aims to include and incorporate people on the gender spectrum to participate in Contemporary Dance. Contemporary Dance is currently targeted towards people from a young age that typically identify as male or female, and we are the ones that want to change that by neutralizing the stigma of different identities by setting up welcoming and open spaces. This is something I am still working on.
What skills did you gain from your experiences at CCDT that have been useful and/or transferable since you have moved on?
- Understanding my body in a physical way
- Always being able to push boundaries physically and mentally
- Creating a positive environment
- Being able to network efficiently
- Social interaction skills
Did you have any favourite work(s) you performed during your time with CCDT? What made it the most fulfilling or memorable to you?
Colin Connor's August. As a dancer who resonates with the Limón technique, August was a work I enjoyed to perform. Although very exhausting, it felt very comfortable in my body while being able to test my boundaries.
Julian, performing August choreographed by Colin Connor in CCDT's May 2013 production of Vectors. Photo by David Hou.
Were there any choreographers, teachers, guest teachers or guest artists you worked with at CCDT who have been greatly influential on your training and/or growth as a dancer and artist?
Darryl Tracy, Colin Connor, Natasha Poon Woo.
Where do you find inspiration to stay artistically driven, motivated, and passionate? Tough question. I can be artistically inspired by any events or occurrences that happen to me directly or on a cosmopolitan scale. It is important for me to take breaks in between creations or dance in general to not come into a state of "overdrive". It is okay to relax and not take dance too seriously.
What are some things you have learned or discovered during the pandemic? The number one thing I have learned during the pandemic overall, in a way that applies to all aspects of myself is: Do not wait for things to happen. Do everything that inspires you without regrets. Do it now because there are other people out there doing the same thing but a lot worse, haha. But it is quite true.
What changes or growth would you like to see happen in the future of dance? INCLUSION of all gender identities and people no matter where they come from or how much money they have, or the colour of their skin. Continue to challenge the way class structures (youth classes) are organised (e.g. "boys" and "girls") to make it more comfortable for kids that don't identify that way.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about auditioning for CCDT?
A short film by Bodies in Action ~ enGendering Contemporary Dance
Visit the links below to learn more about Julian and his company:
Help Bodies in Action Create Change This July by donating to their GoFundMe campaign in support of a new inclusive workshop and performance week: