Nicole Triche’s new documentary ‘Curtsy’ to premiere at RiverRun festival

In her new project, the associate professor of cinema and television arts chronicles a 70-year-old dance teacher, her small-town dance studio, and the challenges she faced during the last three years.

Joyce Triche (left) of Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio in King, North Carolina, is the subject of Associate Professor Nicole Triche’s new documentary, “Curtsy.” The film will premiere at the 25th annual RiverRun International Film Festival on Saturday, April 22.

The subject of Nicole Triche’s new short documentary is undeniably personal, yet the project was anything but predictable.

Titled “Curtsy,” the new film by the associate professor of cinema and television arts highlights Miss Joyce and her 50th year running a small-town dance studio in King, North Carolina. Miss Joyce, who educated generations of Stokes County residents, is also Triche’s mother. The 27-minute documentary will premiere at the 25th annual RiverRun International Film Festival on Saturday, April 22, at 4 p.m. at Marketplace Cinema in Winston Salem. For event and ticket information, click here.

Nicole Triche

A trailer for “Curtsy” is available on Vimeo.

“Every documentarian faces that time when they make something about their family,” Nicole Triche said. “As the 50th anniversary of the studio neared, I began to create a documentary about my mother’s life’s work. I began filming in late 2018 in preparation for the 50th anniversary spring production, which was scheduled for June 2020. Obviously, the arc of the film changed.”

The COVID-19 pandemic greatly influenced the film’s direction as Joyce Triche faced and overcame the hardships that so many small businesses confronted as her community socially distanced. The culminating documentary short is a portrait of her determination, resiliency and creativity.

The film’s subject has a remarkable backstory. While still in high school, Joyce Triche began teaching dance in the mid-1960s in a spare room of her parents’ business. She left Stokes County to earn her dance education degree from Texas Christian University, where she eventually met her future husband, Ward. After graduation, Joyce and Ward returned to King and she opened the first dance studio in Stokes County. For the next 52 years, Joyce Triche taught ballet, tap, creative movement, baton, jazz and shag to students, ranging from toddlers to senior citizens.

Nicole Triche said she literally grew up in her mother’s dance studio, and the facility and her childhood are closely intertwined.

Joyce Triche smiles while working young dancers at her studio, which was located for five decades on East Dalton Street in King, North Carolina.

An experienced documentarian, the younger Triche has several films to her credit, including “Taxidermists” and “All Skate, Everybody Skate,” which won an Excellence in Filmmaking award at the Carrboro Film Festival. She also serves as the director of the elondocs production program. Despite all of that experience, the documentarian said that chronicling the story of a relative wasn’t easy.

“While I loved the experience of making the film, documenting a loved one is challenging, especially when they are going through difficulties,” Nicole Triche said. “There were definitely times when I chose to help rather than film.

“But making this film was a great excuse to spend time with my mother and have conversations with her about her life’s work. The pandemic made me appreciate this time with her even more.”

Nicole Triche noted that she is excited that the RiverRun festival is within driving distance of King, which will allow her mother’s former students, friends and family to attend. Miss Joyce will participate in a Q&A session following the screening. “Curtsy” will be screened prior to the feature documentary titled “Susan.”

“Curtsy” isn’t Elon’s only connection to this year’s RiverRun festival. Emily Prins ’23, a cinema and televisions arts major, will present her BFA thesis documentary, “Not Without a Trace: The Deanie Peters Story,” as part of the event’s Student PitchFest at the Reynolds Place Theatre on Saturday, April 22, at 1 p.m. The thesis project delves into the impact of a 40-year-old missing person’s case on a Michigan community.

The PitchFest provides student documentary filmmakers the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of jurors, who provide feedback and award cash prizes to the first and second place winners. Participating schools include Appalachian State University, Elon, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Wake Forest University.