Monday, September 15, 2008

One of the coolest people I know: Ethnomusicologist, Drummer, photographer and Fulbright recipient Nicole Lecorgne

My friend Nicole Lecorgne (at left) is one of the coolest people I know!

How we met

We first met about fifteen years ago when we both were fairly new to the Cassandra School in Minneapolis. (Nicole is originally from New Orleans.)

Nicole took dance classes and traded with Cassandra, drumming in exchange for her lessons. One day after Level 3 class, she suggested to me that we do a piece together in the upcoming Annual Guild Show. She said, “let’s ask Cassandra for a drum solo that’s simple enough that I could learn it and that you could dance to.” We did, and Cassandra suggested one for us, and we began rehearsing together.

We put together our piece, performed it (all of about 90 seconds of heart-stopping excitement!!!) I made myself a costume for the occasion: black and gold foil harem pants and a matching tietop-- over a leotard, with a hip wrap. (We’ve both come a long way since then.)

What an educationwhat a teacher!

While she was here she received a B.A. in World Music and Dance from the University of Minnesota. She got her Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. Beyond her education and skills though, Nicole is a fantastic and dedicated teacher.

She has tons of experience in special education, classroom instruction and conducting workshops for both children and adults of all levels. She has given workshops and lecture demonstrations at William and Mary College, Brown and Harvard universities.

Minneapolis to San Francisco to New York

From here she moved to San Francisco to study with the amazing Susu Pampanim. Then she began to play with the Georges Lammam Ensemble. With the group, she returns to Minneapolis each year to play for Jawaahir Dance Company. After a few years, she decided to earn her Masters in Ethnomusicology and moved to Connecticut to go to Wellesley. After that, she moved to Queens, New York and made fairly frequent trips to the Arab World to study music and play.

She has been the Camp Drummer for Oasis Dance Camps for many years, playing in the States—and Morocco!

Drumming and photography

With the writer, Kay Hardy Campbell, Nicole traveled to Saudi Arabia as staff photographer for Aramco World Magazine. Nicole is a very fine photographer, too—her first degree was in visual art. Here's some proof from her site:

She started as a visual artist in New Orleans, became a puppet maker with In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater in Minneapolis, switched to Arabic drumming in Minneapolis, which took her to San Francisco (and all over the Arab World) and circle back to photography.

Moving to Egypt on a Fulbright!

I haven't really done justice to Nicole in this short post, so if you really want to learn more about her you can read her bio or visit her percussion or photography sites. Nicole recently moved all her things to her mother’s home near Birmingham, AL—and from there is going to Egypt to live in Cairo for a year on a Fulbright.

I hope that I get to visit Nicole this year!! I love her very much—plus I really need some new costumes!!!

All images in this article ©Nicole LeCorgne

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