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Dance/performance artist Nic Lincoln finds success in failure for 'Too Much'

Nic Lincoln in 'Too Much'

Nic Lincoln in 'Too Much' Provided

In Too Much, Nic Lincoln dives into the notion of failure, drawing from historical reference points such as NASA’s 1977 Voyager Expedition, which saw lots of technical difficulties. 

He also mines his experiences embarking on his solo career. After 10 years as a company dancer with James Sewell Ballet, where he was named one of “25 Dancers to Watch” in Dance Magazine, Lincoln took some time to teach at a college and work as a solo artist. 

There were some hits and misses along that journey. “I had shows in town where five people came to one of my performances,” he recalls. “It took so much emotional stamina.” 

He had a crisis during an Austin, Texas, solo performance of “Glitter Garden.” “I imploded because of this idea of expectation,” he says. 

Lincoln’s self-esteem was at a low point. “It took a lot of guts to be someone nobody knew,” he says. “I was the second to last person, and I was the only solo artist. At the time, I didn’t believe in myself.”

Ironically, even though he thought he had failed, Lincoln got one of the most meaningful and thoughtful reviews he’s ever received after the show. 

Now Lincoln wants to investigate how he can grow from these experiences. 

Lincoln developed his latest work, Too Much, through the Cowles’s new Generating Room program, an open proposal project. “My pitch was that I wanted to make a solo for myself. It’s the first piece I’ve made this long, and there are a whole bunch of things I’ve never done before.” 

In the piece, Lincoln licks a microphone and touches people in the audience. “Maybe licking a microphone is naughty, though I’m not specifically trying to provoke people’s emotional vortexes,” he says. “There must be value to someone saying, ‘I hear you. I’ve been there. You’re not alone.’” 

Part of his process involved training for certification as a yoga instructor, where he learned about emotional scar tissue. “I learned through yoga to crave feedback; both positive and opportunities for growth,” he says.

During his series at the Cowles, Lincoln was originally scheduled to do three events. However, he wasn’t able to perform the last half-hour show, as he tore his calf muscle -- which is fitting, given the theme of the show. 

This Sunday, Lincoln will perform the piece in full in a double-bill series at Bryan-Lake Bowl. The show will include a work by Venus De Mars, with whom he has collaborated previously. 

IF YOU GO:

Too Much
Bryant-Lake Bowl
3 p.m. Sundays through February 23
$15; find tickets here (Feb. 16) and here (Feb. 23).