Reviews, Interview with Musetouch Visual Arts Magazine & Concept Art Gallery

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Some of the Original Art Work created for Moon

Review by Dr. Michael Bradburn-Ruster

 

Moon promises to be a feast for the imagination. But it is more than mere spectacle. Not only does it marry the arts of ballet, opera, music and poetry, but melds these forms into a kaleidoscopic Fable of the soul’s journey—calling us to transcend an increasingly mechanical, functional and quantitative way of life, whose aridity threatens us with a loss of wonder and meaning.

For the aim of Moon is authentic enchantment: not mere escapism, but the recovery of a graced vision of ourselves, our connection to others, to the earth and Spirit. One is reminded of Paul Eluard’s famous verse: There is another world, but it is within this one.

The work is an invitation to explore the Archetypes all humans bear within, the facets of our souls and the roles we live out—each of us both wise and foolish, naïve and bitter, a hermit and a lover, a heroine and an outcast. What rules us—the addict’s insatiable hunger, the sage’s serene renunciation, or both by turns? Do the stories we tell of our lives define us, or confine us? Our identities and narratives can shelter or ensnare, burden or challenge, mollify or deceive us—or chart our release into plenitude.

Romine’s work offers a gift of renewal, and a challenge to a world too often reduced to economics, conflicts, alienation, calculation and exploitation. Amid the divisions and fragmentations of our current global landscape, Moon does not deny confusion, sorrow, or loss—yet it dares sing a garden of harmonies, unfold an oasis of healing. Make no mistake: the work does not seduce us into simply “dreaming away” in fantasy, but urges us to envision and embody the mysteries we dare not forsake.

Moon provides a glimpse of the universal magic that lurks beneath the surface of the ordinary.

 

 

Dr. Michael Bradburn-Ruster

(Ph.D from UC Berkeley)

Author of The Angel or the Beast: Will and Wisdom in Spanish Renaissance Literature

Scholarly articles published in the journal Sacred Web; poetry and fiction in Salzburg Poetry Review and in Dappled Things, a leading Catholic literary journal.

Interview from Musetouch Visual Arts Magazine 2021

 

Who are you Nicole Romine?

 

I am a seeker, a gypsy, a poet of movement, a teacher, a student, and a lover of this exquisite world in which I find myself, even when it shatters me. Dance is my first language, and the arts are the way I can engage with the world. I fall in love every day at least once. I am a curious work in progress. I struggle with being enough, and I cry. Out loud. I also laugh a lot and give my whole heart to most everything I do. I seem to inhabit a state of wonder much of the time,  and sometimes I am more comfortable wandering around in my imagination than  I am in the ‘real’ world. I love to read, I am always learning and growing and becoming, even if I don’t always know what that is exactly. I want to do good work. I try to live from the inside out and I want to bring as much to the world as I can.

 

What inspires you? 

 

Passion. Commitment. Courage. The petal of a flower, animals, trees, all of nature. Any form of art that is done well, creativity that comes from a place of truth. Many artists inspire me; Michael Parkes, Anne Bachelier, Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Edith Piaf, there are so many! Beauty inspires me and also breaks my heart open. The mystics, Hildegard of Bingen, Rumi, and the Tao de Ching. And…Musetouch Visual Arts Magazine, a publication I have loved for years. I am so honored that Moon has arrived here!

 

 

What is your artistic outlook on life?

 

In Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, he expresses the essential message that we must recognize and engage in something larger than ourselves and that when we do we find love. I find love in creating. 

 

I believe that creation itself is an act of love: writing, dancing, drawing, gardening, or the making of music. A creative endeavor presents an opportunity to step into the world of imagination and the imagination is the field of infinite potentiality that quantum theory explores.

 

An artistic process teaches me that life itself, as nature demonstrates so perfectly in every moment, is a perpetual creative endeavor. This is harmony - having an intimate connection to the creative process is the essence of being alive. I am a creative endeavor! For me, intimacy and truth are at the heart of all art forms. The arts represent the story of our shared aliveness and this is something I have tried to capture in Moon. The arts call to me, sing to me, ask me to be fully alive, to feel, to be present, to become. We are all a masterpiece in the making. 

 

 

Ballet was your first true love...please tell me more about that?

 

I was a very serious and intense 8 year old when I attended my first ballet class. It was love at first sight, my great escape, and my saving grace. It was my first experience of beauty, and I wanted more than anything to feel, to become that beauty. It gave me something to love beyond reason, it was something that I could pour my whole heart into. 

 

As a young student, I had the very good fortune to have Tatiana Dokoudovska as one of my primary teachers and she had been trained by one of the prima ballerinas of the Mariinsky. She was a fierce task master and I loved her madly. Growing up was difficult. Ballet was the one thing that gave me a sense of direction, it made sense to me and it felt glorious even when I fell down, which I did frequently. The ballet classroom was structured, serious, disciplined, and a place where all of my confusion subsided as I struggled just to be ok in the world. In pure movement, I felt free and alive. Dance was a calling for me and when I turned 18 I went to a jazz class in Paris and that changed the direction of  my life. I went on to study with some of the best jazz dancers in the world although ballet would always remain at the heart of all my choreographic works later on.

 

 

You were working with amazing artists such as Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Andy Williams...how it was to work with such personalities?

 

Some are more personable than others of course, and I have always thought it would be a such a challenge to be famous. But, invariably the true artists were wonderful to work with and very gracious. I think this is one of the great gifts of working in the performing arts – most everyone, no matter how famous or what is going on in their lives, will give their heart and soul because they love what they do. 

 

 

Can you please tell me more about your incredible ’Moon’ project?

 

I would love to! 

Moon is an epic, mystical adventure about a Girl who journeys through worlds of the imagination to find the moon and discover her own truth. 

 

The first half is set in the Victoriate, a very stylish steampunk city. It is a grey world where people have become slaves to mediocrity, and lost themselves to a false vision. We meet characters like the Mistress of Tears who craves light and steals tears, and the Raven Gent who zips about in a steam powered wheelchair but is really a mischievous oracle. There is Rubbish who lives in a trash bin and is in love with the Girl. There are the drones who serve the upper class,  the Castrato who is a pet of the Duke and Duchess, and of course, the Girl who finds solace outside the city dancing in the light of the moon. The second half occurs in the Realm of Possibility – where characters from the Victoriate become a dream version of themselves. Summer is a place of imagination and looking for things where they cannot be found, Winter is about the trap of complacency and comfort, Spring calls to the primal need for tribe and belonging, and Fall leads the Girl to the Mistress of Tears. The Girl’s story is really about courage, surrender, and transcendence.

The foundation of the choreography will be grounded in ballet, but there will be elements of other styles as well. One of my hopes is to appeal to a broader  audience, to attract people who would not normally see a traditional ballet. So I set about creating characters who would be relevant to the world today even though they inhabit an imaginary world. I suppose I should say they created themselves, I just said, “Hello, who are you?” and put them down on paper. 

 

Some amazing artists have come together such as the composers Dave Klotz and Lilia Yurchuk. Not long ago the Canticle of the Stars was completed, composed by Lilia Yurchuk and it is simply divine. The amazing  voices of Sara Lemesh, Brian Skoog, and Matthew Soibelman bring this piece to life. There is this moment when Brian, who is an extraordinary tenor, comes in, and the first time I heard it, I couldn’t breathe. There is a short clip of it on the website.  

 

And Dave has won several awards for Best Original  Film Score for Mistress of Tears. And then there is the Moon theme, crafted by both Lilia and Dave. I wish I could play it for you right now! The cello, the longing, it expresses this fluid sorrow of the Moon as she grieves the death of the Girl. I am incredibly proud of the music that has been created thus far. And there is so much more to do. 

 

Moon brings together different cultures and styles of dance, music, prose, and voice.  I am hoping to involve some of the amazing technology available today to create an Experience. It will be a true celebration of the performing arts, seamlessly fusing art forms to tell a captivating story that will engage the heart of audience. 

Moon is a dream waiting to come into the waking world.’ a beautiful description, what kind of dream it is dear Nicole? 

 

It’s a dream about hope and transformation and what that means for each of us and for us all collectively. It’s a dream about rising above, rising beyond the self and becoming light. It’s a dream about illuminating the world… like the moon does with such tenderness

 

 

How does it feel like to work on something so magical, so meaningful, so huge?

 

What a beautiful question! It makes me think of a quote by Mikael Aivanhov “There is no more worthy, more glorious or more potent work than this work with light”

 

Much like the calling to become a dancer, this is very similar. It feels like a sacred contract. 

 

Over the past five years, I have tried to put it down, several times, and yet…each time I tried to put it away in a drawer and turn my attention to more practical pursuits,  it was as though something in me withered, I don’t know how else to describe it. I could feel it. And then I would wake up in the morning in tears, puddle through the day, and wake up the next morning again in tears. What can I do with that? The world was not set right until I picked it up again. The stars would not speak to me until I emailed Dave the composer and said “Ok I have a bit of money saved, what can we do?” And then my heart would start to bloom.

 

There are 3 Elders in Moon who guide us through the story, representing the wisdom that is always available if we listen.   One of them has a line in script that says “It is both a curse and an honor to be the artist of my life” and that is precisely how I feel. Sometimes it is exhilarating, and sometimes it is excruciating. It all sounds very dramatic doesn’t it? But mostly for me, it is just showing up for the work and following through even when it makes no sense by normal standards. 

 

Saving for retirement makes sense to most of the world, for me, giving everything I have to Moon makes perfect nonsensical sense. And so I have. Fortunately, I have a very supportive and loving partner who believes in me and in Moon, and some wonderful, beautiful, generous souls who have contributed along the way. I feel as though Moon is a gift, and my responsibility is to show up for it with my whole heart. No matter what. 

 

More than ever, it feels so important to do work that matters  - we must work and create and dream. I am always asking myself what do I bring to the world? I so want to do work that contributes to a more peaceful, sustainable and compassionate world.

 

 

What is your aim?

 

To share Moon with the whole world! To take this show with full orchestra and cast on tour worldwide. To do the impossible. 

Who knows? Maybe it will take another form such as a film. I am open.

 

However it arrives in the world, I hope that Moon will help people to feel the wonder of what it means to be alive. Sometimes I forget what an astonishing thing it is just to be here. I want people to walk away from Moon inspired to explore and imagine their own possibilities.  

 

It is my intention to create work that inspires a greater vision of ourselves and our world. I want Moon to be an ambassador of light, love, and beauty for all. 

 

 

How do you see yourself and ‘Moon’ in the future?

 

Sitting beneath a wise old tree, holding hands with my love, and up above sits a Raven who doffs his top-hat. Above him, the moon floats in the sky, and together we all sigh and say…

“We did it. O! thank you.” 

                                                            Interview by Maia Sylba

                                                            https://musetouch.org

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Review by Dr. Paul Hamilton

 

Moon is a haunting, beautiful, darkly sensual mythopoeic vision of a world struggling for renewal. It combines the sleek dystopian vision of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report with the Victorian aesthetic of H. G. Wells’ Time Machine. It weaves together art nouveau and steam-punk with the wisdom traditions of the Sufi, Vedic, Ubuntu, and native American traditions.


At its core, a young girl’s quest to retrieve the stolen moon, is a story that could be derived from any number of wisdom traditions. From this simple seed germinates a host of figures: The Raven Gent; the Mistress of Tears; the Castrato; the Elders; the Widow. Some of these figures are desperate and naive, struggling for meaning; some, like the Mistress of Tears, are tormented vampiric parasites; some, like the Raven Gent, are guides and oracles; some like the Elders bring words of healing from the world’s ancient wisdom traditions: all are denizens of this richly varied and seductive night world.


Moon’s high romantic quest is to heal a world riven by the dehumanizing forces of industrialization and looming autocracy: it seeks to access the spiritual reservoir that contains within it the possibility of healing. What it offers is not any facile solution, but a medley of voices and highly imaginative, expressively choreographed sequences that express our collective longing for a better world. It is a vision of human potentiality realized. It is a re-affirmation of the capacity of the restless human spirit to transfigure those conditions that prevent us from realizing the immense potential that is within us.


Dr Paul Hamilton
Shakespeare Fellow,
Kingston University,
United Kingdom

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