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Wear + where: Maritza Mercado-Narcisse

Dancer, teacher and founder of the Narcisse Movement Project

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How long have you been dancing?
I started formal training at (age) 11, so the better part of 30 years. I took classes under Renee Holly, a former Balanchine ballerina. After high school at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts), I moved to New York and studied under (instructors like) Peff Modelski (at Steps on Broadway). I saw (contemporary) dancers like Bill T. Jones (of New York Live Arts), and thought, oh, I want to do that. So I learned how to dance again as my original self, not as my ballet-trained self.

Describe your style of dance.
I think I fall into contemporary movement theater. ... It's about how we tell stories with the physical information in the group. There may be a hip-hop dancer or someone with a ballet background — how do you put all that together to make a piece of choreography? It's about the conversation between the movement, the performance space and the audience.

What inspired you to start the Narcisse Movement Project?
I was an artist-in-residence at Dancing Grounds (at the Contemporary Arts Center), and it was an opportunity to organize. My friends and I started creating pieces and then we just kept doing it, and the company was born.

Does dance inspire your sense of style?
As a dancer, I'm always in some sort of action wear, so when I get a chance to dress differently ... it has to be comfortable and functional. Dance has definitely influenced my footwear — I love kicks and tennis shoes. I also change my hair a lot so its architecture matches what I'm working on.

How would you describe it?
Somewhere between Patsy and Edina. I love Absolutely Fabulous — I'm binge-watching that show.

Where do you like to shop?
I like Babe (New Orleans) on Freret, Angelique and Blink. gae-tana's has great festival dresses.

What post-Jazz Fest performance are you most excited to see?
I'm looking forward to seeing Panorama (Jazz Band). They played at my wedding.

What are you wearing to the show?
I'm wearing a shirt by H&M, leggings by Athleta, shoes from Vans and earrings by Liza Garza.

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