Despite her choka block, we sit down for some real choice natter (translations below)...
MONOGRAM: List your full name, profession, and place of residence:
NICOLA COLLIE, dance artist, Los Angeles.
MONOGRAM: How did your love of dance begin?
NICOLA: I was too young to really remember. But it was something I never stopped doing. It’s always made my head feel quiet and my soul feel alive.
MONOGRAM: How did you get started in choreography?
NICOLA: During my Bachelor of Dance there was equal focus on choreography and performance, so I was sort of forced into it not knowing I’d really love it. Then it became a really neat way to see a creation come to life in real time on someone. Watching something evolve in front of your eyes out of the language you use, the tasks you give, and the movement you create is magical. And always so specific to the person. It’s nice to have a balance of being the one creating and performing.
MONOGRAM: Do clients typically let you run wild conceptually, or do they come to you with specific ideas already in mind?
NICOLA: A mixture of both! Some are very specific, particularly if there’s narrative involved. If the dancer is part of a broader story, then it needs to work within that. Others are very open or reference work they’ve already seen of mine and want something similar. So usually I have to teach myself or the dancer my own improvisation because that’s primarily how I work at the moment!
MONOGRAM: What song – new or old – would you love to choreograph?
NICOLA: Anything by Ratatat – always & forever. Or Bach.
MONOGRAM: We know you do some modeling as a side gig. Do you find there’s a lot of crossover between the two worlds?
NICOLA: Definitely at times! And especially now that dance is being used a lot in the fashion world in a commercial value. I do a lot of film-specific dance, so having an awareness of angles, shots, etc. is so helpful. Often the choreography can become secondary to the emotional performance by the way film gets edited/cut. If the choreo is insanely sharp but your performance isn’t, it’s not going to be as good as it could be. That knowledge is superrrr helpful! Knowing where to channel your energy.
MONOGRAM: Speaking of crossover, you’re a New Zealander by way of Brooklyn and now LA. What’s the best part about LA, and what do you miss the most about NZ?
NICOLA: The flora and fauna!! I love all the creeper plants LA has – and the succulents. The fact that coyotes are roamin’ and hawks fly over my backyard. It's paradise. I used to miss the wilderness in NZ so much. My father is a mountaineer, so growing up we got taken to the most amazing places. California has definitely solved that in some ways. But I do miss how easy it is to escape and not see another soul in New Zealand for hours on end. It’s comfortable loneliness.
MONOGRAM: Can you tell us about some of your favorite Kiwi slang?
NICOLA: Hahahaha! Yes, along with translations ;)
Natter = chat
Choca block = full schedule
Choice = right on!
Sweet as = it’s all good
MONOGRAM: Do you have a favorite vintage t-shirt? How and when did you acquire it?
NICOLA: My Joan Jett rose tee. I was at 10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas in Brooklyn, and it was in the wrong section. It should’ve been in the back with the super old stuff, but there was a mix-up and it was with the cheapies. So I took it up front to the counter and the guy goes, “wow, it’s your lucky day, huh...” To which I grinned like a Cheshire Cat and agreed.
MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?
NICOLA: With bright pants! I often wear pants instead of jeans purely for comfort reasons. The MONOGRAM tees are all so graphic and beautifully colored! So it works out ace.
MONOGRAM: Do you use graphic t-shirts to articulate your point of view? How so?
NICOLA: I don’t often wear tees with slogans or agendas on them because I prefer bringing people together rather than dividing them. But it always depends on the message. I love the Resist Persist Insist tee because essentially it’s about having a good work ethic.
MONOGRAM: Lightening round: describe yourself in terms of the following:
FETISH: Shiny things
LOCATION: The desert or the mountains
BEVERAGE: Pamplemousse La Croix (I’m laughing writing this)
TAGLINE: Classy but approachable
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jason Frank Rothenberg