Don Nichols is a percussionist, composer and improviser dedicated to innovative and interdisciplinary performance. Nichols works in a variety of musical styles including contemporary solo percussion, jazz, chamber music, improvisation and electro-acoustic music. His vehicle for musical expression encompasses a wide range of percussion instruments, which include traditional and non-traditional drum sets, resonant metals and gongs, found objects, hand drums and real-time electronics.
“Combine a creative mind with the touch of a gifted percussionist and improviser and you get Don Nichols” (John Lane, Percussive Notes Magazine). His playing is “infectiously melodic while remaining rhythmically complex…perfectly reactive and interactive.” (Don Seybold, WBAA Public Radio)
In 2000, Nichols became the first percussionist awarded a Fulbright grant to Sweden, where he worked closely with percussionist Anders Åstrand. In 2011, he received an Indiana Arts Commission Grant to record his debut CD “Station of Small Sounds,” which is a series of electro-acoustic compositions and improvisations. He was also named “Best Local Drummer” by the Lafayette Journal-Courier in 2010. Reflecting his diverse talents, Nichols performs and collaborates with a variety of leading artists, which have included Max Roach, Roger Reynolds, Evelyn Glennie, Daniel Barenboim, John Luther Adams, Vinko Globokar, Ray Dillard, Bob Becker, Michael Pisaro and Anthony Davis.
Nichols has performed extensively throughout the US and internationally, including Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, the Philadelphia Live Art Festival, the Melbourne Percussion Festival, the New York Performance Mix Festival, and the Agora Festival in Paris. He is a frequent artist-in-residence at universities and artist colonies, which have included the Guapamacatero Art and Ecology Residency (Mexico), CAMAC (France), Ohio State, San Diego State, Iowa State and Southeast Missouri State Universities. His recording credits include appearances on the Mode, Tzadik, Insides Music, Circumvention and Lampse record labels.
Following his collaborative mission, Nichols co-founded PMPD with choreographer Rebecca Bryant in 2002. PMPD combines movement, sound, technology and theater elements into a brand of live art that challenges traditional notions of performance. PMPD has performed extensively throughout the US and abroad, including festivals in New York City, California, New Hampshire, Hungary, Romania and Norway.
As a frequent collaborator with dance, Nichols continually explores new relationships between sound and movement. He has created and performed music for over 30 new dance works in the past three years, and has created music for or worked with a variety of artists and companies including the Martha Graham Dance Company, Lower Left Performance Collective, Sandra Mathern, Allyson Green Dance, Jean Isaacs, Kim Epifano, Richard Move, Gabriel Masson, and the Patricia Rincon Dance Collective. Nichols is formerly the Musician for the Dance Program at Missouri State University. His collaborations beyond dance include visual artists Irena Knezevic, Eiichi Tosaki, Charles Gaines and Edgar Arceneaux.
In 2010, Nichols founded the E3 Series for Improvisation Performance in Lafayette, Indiana. The E3 Series is a monthly showcase of live performance from local and national artists who feature improvisation in music, dance, new media, visual art, spoken word and beyond.
Nichols earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of California, San Diego, where he worked with percussionist Steven Schick and played in the ensemble redfish bluefish. Prior to that, Nichols received Master of Arts Degrees from both the University of California, San Diego and the Musikhögskolan in Piteå, Sweden. He also received a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he worked with Michael Burritt, Jim Ross and Paul Wertico.
Known for her “wonderful insistence on making art about complex ideas” (Janice Steinberg, San Diego Union Tribune), dancemaker Rebecca Bryant addresses current societal phenomena while blurring the distinctions between artistic disciplines. Coming from a visual art background, Bryant creates performances that combine both pre-determined and improvised movement with text, video, sound and objects. Her work is performed in traditional theaters as well as site-specific locations, including art galleries, fountains, warehouses, public parks, and cliff sides.
Bryant’s work is presented nationally and internationally, with critics calling her pieces “humorous, subtle, and provocative” (David Lemberg, Artscape Media), “exploding with suggestions” (Zachary Whittenburg, Chicago Dancemakers Forum), and “a stunning and witty experience” (Nancy Wozny, Dance Source Houston). Bryant has performed across the U.S. and in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In addition to numerous solo projects, Bryant is an active collaborator; she has worked extensively with the Lower Left Performance Collective (dance/theater) and as a co-founder of the Past Modern Performance Duo (dance/percussion/new media). Bryant’s frequent projects with musicians, visual artists, theater artists, poets, and dancers have brought her into creative relationships with over 70 artists from diverse backgrounds, including multi-national music collective Trummerflora, poetry group Collective Purpose, The Taco Shop Poets, hip hop choreographer Grace Jun, choreographer/improviser Sandra Mathern-Smith, Argentine filmmaker Paula Zacharias, Polish theater director Jurek Sawka, and German visual artist Fabian Winkler. Her projects have received support from residencies at Djerassi Resident Artist Program (California) and Guapamacátaro Art and Ecology Residency (Mexico), as well as multiple Purdue University travel, research and equipment grants, a Missouri State University Public Affairs Grant, and a University of California Regents Conference Travel Grant. Recognized for her intelligent dancemaking, Bryant is the recipient of the Glorya Kaufman, Jean Irwin, and Forti Family Awards (1999-2000), and Gala Concert selections at the Central Region (2013), East Central Region (2012), and Southwest Region (2000) American College Dance Festivals.
Bryant has danced for many renowned and emerging choreographers including Victoria Marks, Nina Martin, Wally Cardona, Kim Epifano, Shelley Senter, Lionel Popkin, Liam Clancy, Marianne Kim, Randé Dorn, and Manuelito Biag. She also performed, choreographed, and improvised with SHIFT>>> Physical Theater (San Francisco) and Off the Hip (Los Angeles), both of which are performance collectives she co-founded. She has set work on American dance ensembles GROUP, Kacico Dance, Big Rig Dance Collective, and Brazos Dance Collective, as well as Scandinavian ensemble flight/discovery, Canada’s aLOFT Project, and students at California State University Fresno, University of California San Diego, and Purdue University.
Bryant has taught both nationally and internationally, in workshops and classes at festivals, universities, community colleges, K-12 public schools and in the community. As of August 2014, she will join the faculty at California State University, Long Beach. From 2008-2014, Bryant was an Assistant Professor of Dance at Purdue University, where she co-directed the Purdue Contemporary Dance Company, mentored students in composition, and taught contemporary technique, improvisation and contact improvisation. From 2006 to 2008, Bryant held an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Missouri State University. Bryant has taught workshops in New York, Stockholm, Oslo, Berlin, Buenos Aires, San Diego, and at the Los Angeles Improvisational Dance Festival, West Coast Contact Improv Festival (Berkeley, CA), Texas Dance Improvisation Festival (Houston, TX), Contact Festival Freiburg (Germany), TransContact Festival (Romania), Kontakt Budapest Festival (Hungary), and at numerous universities across the US. Her subjects include contemporary technique, improvisation, somatics, performance praxis, composition, and site-specific dancemaking. She has served as Marketing and Education Coordinator for Lower Left Performance Collective and performed artistic administration for groups such as San Diego Dance Theater and E3 Series for Improvisation Performance. Bryant has extensive experience self-producing performance events and acting as production associate, graphic designer, stage manager, costume designer, lighting designer, and light board operator.
In addition to her ongoing study of the Alexander Technique with Shelley Senter, Bryant has cultivated her dancing style by training in modern dance forms (Humphrey/Limon, Cunningham, Hawkins), postmodern forms (Release Technique, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Developmental Movement, Body-Mind Centering, Hamilton Floor Barre, Irene Dowd’s work), improvisation practices (Mary Overlie’s The Six Viewpoints, Bogart/Landau Viewpoints, Re-Wire: Dancing States, Barbara Dilley’s Red Square), contact improvisation (with Nita Little, Ray Chung, Andrew Harwood, Karen Nelson, KJ Holmes, Martin Keogh, and others), performance art (with Eleanor Antin), yoga (Ashtanga, Iyengar), and ballet. Bryant began her artistic training at an early age, studying and excelling in the visual arts; she holds a BA in Visual Art from the University of California San Diego, where she specialized in photography, painting, film, and installation. She received an MFA in Dance from the University of California Los Angeles, where she focused on performance theory, body modalities, and dance education in addition to her choreographic and improvisational work.