Anatomy of a Night offers a love letter to the act of making memories within the sweat and beats. Through dance, runway shows, spoken word, and lip-syncing, choreographer and performer Nick Nikolaou shares their stories of gender, queerness, and community on stage.
The thematic undercurrents of the show took shape while Nick was studying their Masters in Contemporary Dance at the University of Limerick in 2019. During this time, they researched movement memories, drawing upon personal experiences such as dancing to Ace of Base when they were a teenager or acting out being a Power Ranger as a child.
Reflecting back on their research, Nick expressed, “I only started dancing when I was 20. Through that research, I realised I had been dancing ever since I was a baby. It just wasn’t official. I always had movement in my life, always had dance in my life. And it was quite an emotional journey to realise that.”
In 2021, Nick worked alongside Kevin Murphy, a lighting design student from the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts, on a Lighting Design for Dance project. Through their collaboration, Anatomy of a Night emerged as a 15 minute performance piece.
It initially focused primarily on Nick’s memories of nightclubs, highlighting the role of lighting in those spaces. After that original show, they developed the queer elements of their performance in conversation with mentors Liz Roche, Emma Martin, and Philip Connaughton.
Looking back on the performance’s evolution, the choreographer said, “I wanted to make it [...] the idea of how spaces like that are allowing me, as a genderqueer person, to not only feel comfortable in my sexuality but also comfortable in my gender through the means of community, communal experiences, outfits, dressing up, lights, chats. Just having the time of my life.”
In their first appearance at the Dublin Fringe Festival, Nick’s show aims to capture that whirlwind energy of nightclubbing onto the stage. Along with encouraging audiences to attend in a lewk, the performer has been collaborating with costume designer Dearbhla Beirne on creating their stunning outfits, recreating the fun and excitement of dressing up for a big night out.
“We went in and talked about my memories, what I wanted it to represent costume wise, and the colours that should be on my body, and the fit. Every collaborator that I’ve worked with: it’s our show, it’s our baby,” Nick shared.
“It’s all about multidisciplinary work. I’m really excited to bring all this together and bring people together.”
This electric performance acts as a love letter to all those queer people who dance together, collectively playing with and celebrating their identities. In the spirit of that beauty and messiness, the show concludes by transforming the venue into a club night for audiences to groove together with different DJs each night.
By getting people up and moving at the end of the show, Nick wants everyone to take part in creating new memories together. They said, “Using my body as a vessel, I hope that I will be able to create a safe space for the audience.”
Nick further addressed the relevancy in creating safe spaces for queer communities especially with the loss of so many physical spaces in Dublin, “Even though the show is all about celebrating queerness and celebrating these spaces, it also looks at the cold reality that, as time goes by in Dublin, those spaces do disappear. We do have young people coming up and making these incredible parties, however we have less and less spaces.”
They concluded, “We are here, queer people are here, Transgender and non-binary queer people are here. We need more.”
Anatomy of a Night came about from a collection of voices, moments, and memories channeled through Nick’s movements. Although it may appear as a solo performance, they do not move alone on stage.
Nick Nikolau’s ‘Anatomy of a Night’ previews on 20 September and then runs 21-24 September in the Complex-the Depot.