Let’s be real here – Valentine’s Day is hard.
It’s hard if you’re in a relationship. There’s the matter of remembering to get your lover that perfect Valentine’s Day gift. And getting dinner reservations can be a headache.
It’s hard if you’re not in a relationship, because, you know, you’re not in a relationship. So what are you supposed to do?
Fear not. Dancer, choreographer and all-around theater person Nicola Bullock has the perfect evening planned: a variety show with a love theme.
“Love: A Variety Show” at Motorco Music Hall in Durham will feature dance, video, puppetry, poetry, music, kora playing and who-knows-what-else, all in the service of celebrating this inscrutable thing called love.
“Not only one kind of love, but love of self, love of the divine, love of an experience, love of art,” says Bullock. “I want all of these things to be represented so that everybody can connect to something.”
So is the show most suitable for happy hearts? For lonely hearts? Or maybe, even, for happy-to-be-lonely hearts? Yes, yes, and yes.
“The idea for the show came from everybody having opinions about Valentine’s Day, and the way Valentine’s Day is really sold in mass culture,” says Bullock. “I certainly don’t think that’s the only way to celebrate love. I wanted this to be something where, certainly, couples of all varieties – and people who are not couples, and people who are in things that I don’t even understand, feel welcome.”
Apparently, it’s working. She’s done a few of these Valentine’s Day-themed shows in the past – in Brooklyn, N.Y., and at Motorco – and the response has been positive.
For Bullock, the satisfaction in doing the show is very personal.
“I really like having something to do on Valentine’s Day,” she says. “And this is the kind of show I want to be part of. I’m trying to give the artists as much freedom as I can possibly give them to just kind of come up with their own version of things.”
In that spirit, Durham-based choreographer Renay Aumiller has chosen to express the meaning of love for the show by dancing to the sensual sounds of Marvin Gaye.
“Love is such a broad word,” says Aumiller. “It’s used to describe a lot of different feelings. As a dancer and choreographer, I’m approaching it the best way I know how. It’s a word that’s really hard to describe. I’m just gonna move through it.”
That’s what Aumiller says she wants to convey – her love of movement.
“It’s a very lighthearted piece,” Aumiller says of her planned six-minute performance. “I’m just hoping to put a smile on everyone’s face.”
In hopes of getting everybody moving, Bullock chose the Chapel Hill-based band Bevel Summers to close the show. She previously worked with the folk-blues band on the Burning Coal Theatre Company show “Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc” last summer.
“They blew me away,” she says. “They totally have their own sound. They can get a crowd excited and going.”
According to singer-songwriter-guitarist Jeb Brinkley of Bevel Summers, the band is still planning its big finish to the show, but it’ll come naturally to them.
“I think our band likes to address heartbreak,” says Brinkley, “and that’s one of the first things that people think of when they think about love – especially on Valentine’s Day, which is such a loaded holiday, if you can even call it that.”
Whatever they do, they can’t fail with the kind of vibe around this show.
“There’s a great theme,” says Bullock “It’s right there. Love.”