I want to take the time out to share some of Nicole M. Spinelli’s light with y’all – in hopes that it illuminates your heart and mind the way she has done so beautifully with mine… I fell in love with her soul when she actively participated in “Occupying Wall Street,” and not just “tweeting” about the movement, but actually living it. I was instantly impressed and my curiosity had been peaked. So I’ve been an avid follower ever since. At the extremely young age of 24, Nicole has done more than most and when you’re done reading this interview, I’m quite positive, if you aren’t already, you will become an immensely inspired believer of the magical Nicole M. Spinelli’s love, light, and work. And this is why…
Q: You know how they say, “You have the same amount of hours in your day as Beyonce…” I think they need to change that to, “You have the same amount of hours in your day as Nicole Spinelli.” From dancer, to birth doula… To teacher to choreographer… To writer to artist… What don’t you do? & Where do you find the time? & Where can I sign up for a class in time-management? But seriously, what’s your secret to peace & sanity amidst your ever-busy schedule?
Hmm, what don’t I do…. Sleep! Haha, but seriously. Lately sleep has been evasive (I’ve been pretty anxious because I’m putting on a showcase in April). On a typical day, I spend my mornings and afternoons working, my evenings at dance rehearsal, and my late nights writing, or painting or mixing music.
It has become a ritual of some sort. My mind is a very active place, and sometimes the only way of quieting that is… well… by doing. Some people need a lot of rest to stay sane. For me, it was always very much the opposite. If I don’t have my hands in multiple projects at once, I feel useless. Life in this skin, and these hands, and these eyes is so short, and I always feel like I am running out of time (sometimes I wish these bodies would never expire).
When I am compelled to do something, I have learned through experience that it is best to drop everything else, and follow the urge. There are nights that I find myself quite exhausted, and no matter how hard I try to sleep, I feel driven to write. Initially I will ignore the feeling, until there is literally an entire poem just sitting in my head, waiting to be addressed. At that point I realize that if I go to sleep I will lose it forever, and maybe it is something that someone needs to read. So I get up, and I write, until there is nothing left to say. That is how I wrote “Pretend” (from my 2nd book, seamless).
All of the peace I have managed to salvage comes from creating. With that being said, I am obviously not doing enough of it.
Q: Are you still apart of the Occupy Wall Street movement? I know its quieted down a little minute but something tells me that those truly apart of it, like yourself, will never actually suppress your need to acquire and keep justice.
My dad and my grandpa talked politics a great deal before my grandpa passed away. Both of them were relatively anti-establishment at the time, and listening in on their conversations opened my eyes to the other side(s) of history, that were conveniently left out of the textbooks, and lessons provided to me by the public school system.
I began protesting social injustice and political corruption back in 2008. To give an accurate picture of what ignited that flame in me, I have to give some background information:
After a series of tragic events, I spent some time to myself, reflecting and re-evaluating my perception of the world. Many of us do not value our health until we are faced with an experience that brings us close to death. I got into a bad car accident, freshman year of college. Within the same semester, I got very VERY sick with meningitis just a few weeks after getting the …meningitis vaccine. I was sick, for almost an entire year. This shook me, as well as my family, and changed the way we viewed the medical industry forever. My grandpa was hit by a car while crossing the street and died, unexpectedly, in one of those freak accidents you rarely hear about. These were a few of the catalysts that I attribute to the person I was soon to become. We are what grows in us…
When I first started protesting, my main concern was public health– the notion of “mandatory vaccinations,” and the quality of the air. Looking up at the beautiful blue skies, only to see planes spraying white lines in the shape of an “X” or sometimes what looked like a “tic tac toe” board became emotionally disturbing to me. Who was behind this, and how would it affect my family? The first protest that I organized had a turnout of 3 people. That was including myself. The other 2 people were close friends of mine. Nonetheless we marched through the city with signs, and flyers that I had written up, informing people about the potential implications of being vaccinated, in addition to urging the public to look up at the skies. The chemtrails were being done right before our very eyes, and no one seemed to care!
A few years and several protests later, a friend invited me to Occupy Wall Street, which I was hesitant to attend, mainly because my family was clearly becoming a target, for sharing what we knew. I had been followed a handful of times, and people in uniform would come to my house and stand on the front stoop with little handheld computer-like devices, once even trespassing my backyard to take pictures. Regardless, my passion drove me to attend, and I was greeted with open arms and the sweet sounds of the Kalimba, on day one of Occupy Wall Street. I don’t mean to glorify this protest, but the first few days that I attended were some of the greatest days I can remember. I met so many genuine people, who wanted to do something about the corruption in America– from Wall street, to the White House, to the school classrooms. As time went on, I sensed a change in the people who seemed to be organizing, and police became more increasingly more violent. Spraying pepper spray while we marched, and lord knows what else. My friend Renee was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, and after that we gradually faded out of the picture.
Since the protest, I have begun to feel that the best way I can change the world is not by marching on the street, but by working with the youth, and opening their minds to wonder. Curiosity is a gift, and questions should always be encouraged. I have been a high school cheerleading coach for 6 years now, and believe that I have begun to fulfill this role, simply by being honest about my experiences and discussing my own lifestyle. Recently I have become certified to teach high school physics, where I plan to inspire a new generation of scientists and skeptics, who are not immune to the beauty of the process. Whatever that process may be.
Q: What are you reading now?
I just purchased a book of ALL of the Odes written by Pablo Neruda. Needless to say, the book is about 600, maybe 700 pages, and I am skipping around, as usual!
Q: Ahhhh! Pablo Neruda is one of my absolute FAVORITES. I was actually gonna buy that for myself but I think it may be gifted to me. You’ve written three books already. Do you think you’ll be ready to release your fourth, LATE, anytime soon? Because you don’t know how badly I was itchin’ with temptation to let my girls have a peek!
I think I am finally (emotionally) ready, and that is largely because I have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. I never expected such a warm and gracious response, or imagined that so many people would be able to relate so closely to feelings that I would never wish upon my worst enemy. It was sad, in that sense, but it’s always nice to feel just a little less alone. I think LATE did that for a lot of us… so it definitely needs to be released, sooner than later. Now the question is, should I find a literary agent, and be published, or continue to come out of pocket, and self-publish my work?
(P.s. you can share your copy with your friends!)
Did you learn anything new about yourself when you were writing LATE? How long did it take to write?
I learned that I am the sad kind of happy. LATE took me 3 nights to write (I am what I would call a “binge writer”)—it is (almost entirely) a true story, so the inspiration was fresh. The train ride I discuss in the book is EXACTLY what happened to me, and what was going through my mind at the time. On that train ride home I thought “why are you the light at the end of every dark tunnel?” And then I had an epiphany like “This is my next book!!! Light at the end!!” When I got home that night, I wrote a few pages from the middle of the book. I shared it with some friends at a Superbowl party in 2013. To my surprise, they were in awe, and told me to finish it. So I did.
Q: What are your expectations for LATE? Did you ever think you would have published four books or get to this point in your life? I get the impression that you’re one of the few that many aspire to be: someone who does exactly what their heart wants.
In 1st grade I wrote my first short story. In 2nd grade I built up the courage to read it to the class. It was about a boy, in the girls’ bathroom. Haha… I never wrote again until middle school. One of my English teachers asked that we keep a journal. I remember writing an incredible poem about rain. Or maybe it wasn’t about rain. I just wish I could find that notebook. I didn’t write poetry again until 2010, when a friend asked that I write her a book. I think she was joking. I wrote her one anyway. After that, I never stopped writing again.
I expect LATE will touch a lot of people, from different backgrounds, and hopefully heal something in each person that it finds. Loneliness knows no race or gender or social status.
Q: Who and/or what is your inspiration? What keeps you waking up every morning?
Although I feel guilty about choosing just one person, my uncle Peter has been a huge inspiration. He lived a very short life, but he loved in a way that I have never known before, and may never know again. His heart was so rare, and pure; gentle as water, and fiery all at once. Knowing what he was to the world, and how many lives he changed will always inspire me to give more of myself. [Plus, he played guitar like a BOSS…so much soul. I strive to be even half as big in spirit as he was.]
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Lately, when I wake up, I reflect on my dreams. As a child, I rarely remembered any of them. The past few days have bombarded me with so many vivid dreams, and of course, my overactive mind feels the need to analyze, analyze, analyze!
Q: I would say your books are inspiration enough but for those who haven’t yet read them… Do you have any words of wisdom to impart our readers with? For people who don’t know how to leave, or stay, and/or even get started…? I must say Nicole, your voice truly has the power to move any and everyone you speak to. I can only imagine the minute you enter the room, your voice and compassion commands the hearts and ears of the audience in its entirety. Has that always been the case growing up?
The best advice that I can give is this: be bigger than your body, and trust your path. We are so much more, and so much less than meets the eye. The universe is still learning about itself, through us, and I think that we can all benefit from taking things one moment at a time, and never doubting that everything will unfold the best way that it knows how. We must also accept our roles as co-creators of this realm, and keep in mind that we teach life as much as life teaches us.
As for my presence commanding attention, I am not so sure if that has always been the case. What I can say with certainty is that I have always been a “target.” In elementary school and middle school I was made fun of because I had a big nose, and because I was quite obviously not like the rest of my classmates. These years molded me into a very insecure person. Dance re-gifted me my confidence…
Oh, and… my family calls me “the king,” and one time– on my 21st birthday—I was in the city, with some friends when I saw a young man walking his dog. Just as they were about to pass us, the dog stops, right before my feet, stands on its back 2 legs, and raises its paw up to me. It was as if the dog knew that it was my birthday! I’ve always felt a bit different (and often a bit more appreciated and understood by animals than by people!) Haha
Q: Well, long live the King! <3 Not only your voice, but your body has the power to speak volumes. You said, “I dance to feel less foreign in my own body.” Can you delve a little deeper and break that down for us?
There are people who wear their bodies well. I was never really one of them. I am not the most graceful, nor the most awkward. I think those of us who spend a lot of time in our heads need to “come back down” to earth once in a while. Dancing keeps me grounded. It helps me to fill my WHOLE body; to restore balance. For that reason, it is therapeutic… to feel with my heart, and my fingertips and my toes, all at once. I think that dance should be required. The world could benefit from people who are better connected to self and therefore everyone else, (I think ego is an illusive mental state of detachment), more in touch with their own movements, and people who balance thought with feel (who even thinks anymore? Who even remembers to feel?).
Q: How was it working with Saul Williams for Afropunk & an NYFW event (I believe)?
Words cannot even express how thankful I am for those experiences. Saul Williams is a brilliant artist, and I NEVER could have imagined getting the opportunity to work with someone of his magnitude of greatness on more than one occasion! On a personal level, Saul and I clicked instantly… there was this mutual sense of understanding and trust—he trusted my vision as a choreographer and basically gave me complete creative freedom, so long as we were breaking sight lines. I will never forget the day that I met him, and was greeted with the warmest embrace, under the watch of the August sun, next to a stage in Brooklyn.
Q: I know you have this never-ending [true] true story:
the ceiling of the hospital collapsed on me the day that I was born and well…
it’s safe to say that I have been digging myself out of the debris ever since.
Can you tell us how that’s been the theme of your life & your evolution as a beautiful human being? Is it a struggle? Always having to dig yourself out of the debris? Or do you ignore it because it does nothing but strengthen you?
Well, quite literally, within 24 hours of my birth, a water pipe above my hospital room burst, and the ceiling fell on my mom and I.
Ever since then, I have been bombarded, especially with recurring signs—often taking the form of numbers, or other symbols that I am capable of reading— strange synchronicities, and (catastrophic/chaotic) events. For some reason, I have always had to be the one to piece the puzzle together.
In addition to this, my foundation of knowledge collapsed almost entirely, early in my college career, and I’ve had to navigate my way through the mess of lies, and misinformation that American culture affords us. The process of rearranging my values, and rebuilding a perspective that suits me, and not someone else’s agenda, has been a difficult but rewarding journey. These efforts to TRULY understand the world have been met with resistance from people I once considered friends, other acquaintances, and even strangers. As a result, it has been impossible to ignore, and can get especially lonely at times.
(Anyone who doesn’t accept the “official” 9/11 story is immediately written off as a “conspiracy theorist,” but I suppose, if I was the government, and I had a hand in an event so devastating, I too would want people like me to be viewed as crazy, to prevent people the masses from searching any further.)
Q: So last but not least… I know you know Valentine’s Day is coming up… Is there a special someone you will be celebrating with or…? What are the top three romantic things you would want your love to do for you?
No Valentine here… be mine? 😉
I would want my love to send me handwritten letters by mail, lay next to me on the grass, while stargazing, and slow dance with me, regardless of where we are, and whether there is music playing in the background or not. What can I say! I’m an old soul.
Be still my heart.
Be still my soul.
Be still my boyfriend ;).
If Nicole M. Spinelli isn’t timeless, I don’t know who is.
So if you like what you’ve read & are compelled to know more, or are just in the NYC area… Please come out & learn more about the young queen at her first NYC dance showcase, “Black hole, White rabbit.” April 12th… Just ordered my ticket! Look forward to seeing some of you there! Buy $19 tickets here:
Follow her on Twitter @spacefroot.
Or Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nicolemspinelli
Photo credit for the first, third, and featured images belongs to the amazing Erica Genece.