Two dancers, Tommy and Murielle, strike dramatic poses while all-purpose flour flies around them, creating a white, cloudy smoke.

The Spark with Tift Merritt: Culture Mill

Virtual Event
October 21, 2021
7:30 PM

Registration for this event closes at 6:30 PM EDT on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Available on-demand for all ticketholders for 72 hours, beginning on October 21, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT. Suggested ticket donation (per household) is $15. Tickets available starting at $0.

Join us for The Spark with Tift Merritt featuring featuring Culture Mill founders Tommy Noonan and Murielle Elizéon. In this series, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and UNC alumna Tift Merritt returns to Carolina Performing Arts to take us behind the scenes in artist-to-artist video interviews that delve deep into the creative process. 

How do you light a spark? How do you make something true? How does art happen? What is mumbled on the way in the studio and how can we hear it? 

Welcome to The Spark.

Tift Merritt

A performing arts laboratory based in the village of Saxapahaw, North Carolina, Culture Mill is led by founders Tommy Noonan and Murielle Elizéon, dancers and choreographers with more than 35 combined years of professional experience teaching, choreographing, and performing throughout Europe, Australia, and the Americas. They have been commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Maxim Gorki Theater (Berlin), and the American Dance Festival, amongst other revered presenters.   

This season, as part of the Southern Futures at CPA initiative, Tommy and Murielle will work alongside local collaborators to create a series of new artist residencies through Carolina Performing Arts. As part of these residencies, artists will be commissioned to create new works and are invited to visit Chapel Hill for week-long stays to inform their creative process. This residency process will be prototyped through Tommy and Murielle’s own work, Eclipse, which will be presented at CPA in spring 2022 and was workshopped by community members through CPA’s Institute for Performance in spring 2021. 

Runtime: approximately 60 minutes, including audience Q&A. Recording of CPA virtual events is not permitted. If you have questions or concerns related to accessibility, please contact us. You can also check out our livestream events guide

The Spark with Tift Merritt logo

About The Spark

Based on the series Merritt produced for the acclaimed Marfa, Texas Public Radio, The Spark peels back the polished performance to reveal the elbow grease, risk, fire, and courage behind the art—and artists—we think we know. Each month, Tift will welcome a new artist for a 45-minute livestreamed conversation that gets to the heart of their work, followed by a 15-minute audience Q&A. 

About the Artists

Tommy Noonan

Photo: Tim Walter

Tommy Noonan is a director, choreographer, writer, and performer currently based in Saxapahaw, NC. His work has been presented throughout Europe and North America. He has collaborated in contemporary dance, installation, theater, and performance practices with Stephanie Thiersch, Tom Schneider, Mia Habib, Murielle Elizéon, Joachim Schlömer, and Pieter Ampe, among others.

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His research and work in public space performance with Georg Hobmeier took place between Argentina, Germany and Austria, and their conversations on performance and public space have appeared in the acclaimed: “Guidebook of Alternative Nows.”

Tommy recently collaborated with Okwui Okpokwasili through the Carolina Performing Arts Creative Futures fellowship and with Australia’s The Farm in their creation of Food Chain, which premiered in Australia’s Sydney Festival.

As a choreographer/director, Noonan created The Engagement for the Maxim Gorki Theater’s Heinrich von Kleist festival in Berlin and has toured his smaller performances such as Wilderness, Tout Court, What Doesn’t Work, and Brother Brother in more than 70 performances and 8 countries.

Most recently, he and Murielle Elizéon were commissioned by the American Dance Festival to create: They Are All as a part of ADF’s 2019 Summer season, and is currently working on a new solo in collaboration with Mia Habib Productions in Bergen, Norway. Tommy regularly teaches classes and workshops both internationally as well as locally in North Carolina, where he is increasingly committed to exploring creative practice as a means of embodied social and ecological justice.

Murielle Elizéon

Photo: Tim Walter

Murielle Elizéon is a French choreographer, performer, teaching artist, and creative community connector. She was born and raised in a multiracial family in an underserved community in South of France and studied contemporary dance and dance pedagogy. She has performed and toured with various companies (T. Lebrun, Palle Granhoj, Joachim Schlomer) in France, Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany.  

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Since 2014, she has co-led Culture Mill with Tommy Noonan, a performing arts laboratory based in Saxapahaw, NC, which strives to create connective social tissue through creative place making, cross-pollination of artists residencies, and community partnerships. Recently, her work as a choreographer has included commissions from the American Dance Festival and the North Carolina Museum of Art and has been seen across Europe. She is committed to using creative process and embodied practices to unearth our potential for transformation at individual, relational, and communal levels and strives to develop performances as contemporary rituals where performers and participants can experience their shared humanity. She initiates collaborations that weave together artistic embodied practices with non-arts sectors such as health/sciences (Duke Movement Disorders) and restorative/social justice (Dispute Settlement Center, Saxapahaw Social Justice Exchange). 

Artist Tift Merritt looks to the side with a slight smile.

About Tift Merritt

Tift Merritt wanted to be a writer until her father taught her guitar chords and Percy Sledge songs. In her 20-year career, she has toured around the world with her sonic short stories and garnered a reputation for making her own way and setting an interesting artistic table. The New Yorker calls her “the bearer of a proud tradition of distaff country soul that reaches back to artists like Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry.” Emmylou Harris calls her “a diamond in a coal mine.”

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Taking time off the road to raise her daughter, Merritt began work on forthcoming site-specific projects by way of collecting objects at an old motel and an abandoned asylum as forgotten, essential language.  Merritt collects artist interviews about process and integrity on The Spark for Carolina Performing Arts. She lives in North Carolina with her daughter, Jean.

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