November Events!

by Aisha Cruse

Sun, November 8 @ 12:30pm & 1:30pm
Amherst Storybook Project
Presented by Luminarium Dance Company
at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA
Luminarium debuts its season-long project with the Amherst community with its book launch and family-friendly performance with Q&A at 12:30 and 1:30pm in the museum theater. You can learn more about the incredible breadth and scope of the project, as well as see some of the original images on Luminarium's website; click the link above!

Fri, November 13 @ 8:00 pm
Sat, November 14 @ 4:00 pm
Featuring ANIKAYA
Presented by Boston Center for the Arts
At Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA,  Boston, MA
$20 general admission
Inspired by the phenomenon of Quantum Entanglement, in which two atoms become linked to each other, Entangling explores how we are inextricably and consequentially connected to each other. This piece seems to be a natural extension of Anikaya Dance Theater's mission statement to break down the perceived boundaries between people, cultures and artforms. A collaboration between US-based choreographer Wendy Jehlen and West African-based contemporary choreographer and dancer Lacina Coulibaly, Entangling, investigates the interlacing of the internal, physical energy between two human beings.

Mon, November 16 @ 7:00 pm
Onstage Dance 5th Anniversary Gala
Featuring and Presented by OnStage Dance Company
At OBERON, Cambridge, MA
Free! Standing room only; VIP seating $15
We had the great pleasure of meeting some of the members of OnStage Dance Company during ChoreoFest back in September, when they made an amazing peice to the prompt "The snozzberries taste like snozzberries", so I'm pretty excited to see them at Oberon. You should definietely join me. From their website: "OnStage Dance Company invites you to celebrate FIVE incredible years of dance. Featuring: "Greatest Hits" performances throughout the evening, special guests, award presentations, games, giveaways, raffles and MORE! This event is FREE and open to the public. In an effort to continue building a strong local dance community, we encourage local dancers and dance companies to attend."

November 20 @ 4:00pm through November 22 @ 8:00pm 
The Festival of You & Us & We & Them
Presented by The Dance Complex
At The Dance Complex, Central Square, Cambridge, MA
FREE; other ticketed events range from $5- $25 dollars
The Dance Complex marches on in it's mission to bring dance to the community and grow the dance community in Boston with The Festival of You & Us & We & Them.  Mostly free and open to the public, this weekend- long festival will have workshops, performances, and a flashmob class (really), and will also make use of the Dance Complex's temporary street level performance patio, standing in for the much anticipated unveiling of Studio 7 (PS check out dancecomplex.org for information about Dance Building Building Dance Phase II and how you can help!) So far, the list of artists sharing work includes Adrienne Hawkins, Brian Feigenbaum, Margot Parsons, Brian Crabtree, David Sun, DeAnna Pellechia. New works in progress from dancemakers in aMaSSiT Creative Labs of The Dance Complex include Audrey MacLean, Kathy Hassinger, Kristen Wagner, Jenny Herzog, Sarah Eley and Colleen Walsh. Check on the Dance Complex main page closer to the festival for a complete list of events!

Fri & Sat, November 20 & 21@ 8:00 pm
Sun, November 22 @ 3:00 pm
This is Tango Now 
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
At Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, MA
$40, $36 World Music/ CRASHarts members
This is Tango Now returns to Boston yet again, so if you've missed their previous performances, now is a great opportunity to get acquainted with this incredible company. "Formed by renowned, Tony-winning tango artists Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merlo and musician Alfredo Minetti, This Is Tango Now represents a unique approach to tango, reflecting an unconditional passion for the art form. Featuring a stellar company of 12 dancers and musicians performing the world premiere of CARMEN . . . de Buenos Aires, this breathtaking new production of Carmen blends tango and flamenco with an original score based on Bizet’s beloved melodies." As always, ICA events are accompanied with pre- and post- show discussions, so check out the Friday night performance for a Q&A with the company.


Misplace/Displaced Opens Next Week

MH 2012 Header
Connecting Communities with Choreography
Press ReleaseFor Immediate Release
Monkeyhouse Announces
Monkeyhouse's Season 15 Misplaced/Displaced 
Taps Into Timely Themes of Survival and Resilience

Somerville, MA - September, 2015 - 

As the Presidential debates ponder immigration reform and Europe grapples with unprecedented levels of refugees, it seems that the whole world it wrestling with the questions about being misplaced and displaced. Monkeyhouse, an award winning local nonprofit that connects communities with choreography, had no idea how timely these topics would be when they decided to dedicate their 15 anniversary season to this theme. Their eclectic band of choreographers have roamed the edges of the dance landscape seeking out uncharted connections to other art forms in preparation for Monkeyhouse's concerts on October 23 &24 @ 8PM at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St, Cambridge, MA. Tickets are $25/ $20 for students, seniors and Boston Dance Alliance members. More information can be found at MulticulturalArtsCenter.org.
What do you learn when you lose your home? Where do you belong? How do you survive and how do you muster the strength to keep going?

karen and nicole
(l to r) Karen Krolak & Nicole Harris Photo Credit: Stephanie Suné
 "When I first proposed these topics for Monkeyhouse's 15th season, they arose from a very personal set of challenges. I had just lost my mother, father, and older brother in a car accident. My husband and I were living on friends' couches and in hotel rooms for months as we grieved and as we waited for our mortgage on a new home to be finalized. And then, Monkeyhouse learned that our artistic home, Springstep in Medford, was being sold." explains Artistic Director, Karen Krolak. "Honestly, these were the questions I was asking myself  every morning and I had no sense of how relevant they would become." Krolak continued. 
Although the theme, Misplaced/Displaced evolved out of personal tragedy, Monkeyhouse knew that it was meaningful to many within the local dance community. Even without so many extraordinary challenges, surviving as a dance organization in Boston is not easy. In fact the majority of the companies that began in the early 2000's with Monkeyhouse have now shuttered their doors, including Snappy Dance, whose yearly budget was more than five times larger than Monkeyhouse's. As the company examines how to survive setbacks this season through pieces that play with pottery, palindromes and history, they hope to help audience members,  dance organizations and emerging artists to navigate through life's inevitable hurdles. 

For example, Merli Guerra, Co-Founder of Luminarium Dance, describes how Monkeyhouse supports the greater Boston's dance ecosystem:

"The relationship between Luminarium and Monkeyhouse technically began through our company's debut of 24-Hour ChoreoFest back in 2012, but I would counter that it really kicked off when Kim Holman, Karen Krolak, Jason Ries, and myself sat down at Thelonious Monkfish after the fact to debrief. The exchange was extraordinary. Here was a company a full decade more established than our own, taking the time to sit with us, and not only offer to help us as we forged our path as a company, but spoke to us right from the beginning as peers. This meeting will forever be alive in my memory bank-the lunch hour came and went and there we stayed, swapping hilarious adventures in pursuit of the arts, and tackling big ideas for the seasons to come.

Fast forward one year later, a young new dancer sat eagerly across the table from us having just graduated from college and participated in our second ChoreoFest. As he asked us questions for how to get his spunky new group (yes, this would be Tyler Catanella of Paradise Lost) off the ground and running, I couldn't help but make a comparison to the year before. Here we were, doing for Tyler what Monkeyhouse had done for us.

That is the impact of Monkeyhouse on the community. All of its members find a way to help new and aspiring artists with guidance, honesty, support, and a little humor. And before we knew it, we'd become the ones paying it forward for the next generation coming through. Thank you, Monkeyhouse, for treating us as your peers from day one, and for forever inspiring the young artists around you to jump up and get moving."

About Monkeyhouse
Monkeyhouse began with a promise to build a laboratory where choreographers could create, experiment and present new work.  Our mission has developed to include motivating people to move with meaning and improving communication by connecting communities with choreography.  Over the years we have mentored, nurtured and supported dozens of choreographers ranging from students first experimenting to established favorites.  We've had hundreds of conversations about different choreographic processes that stimulate or inspire new directions for our work and helped foster long term relationships with presenters, audience members and other choreographers.  


October Events!

By Aisha Cruse

Sat, October 3 @ 7:30 pm
NYC's Janis Brenner & Dancers
Featuring Janis Brenner & Dancers : Presented by The Dance Hall
At The Dance Hall Kittery, ME

$20 at the door/ $16 advance
Janis Brenner has been hailed as deeply moving and a tour de force from New York City to Switzerland to Russia and back again. She and her Dancers have performed at Madison Square Garden,  Jacob's Pillow, the UN, and at festivals to numerous to name. Her body of work is impressive to say the absolute least. Janis Brenner and Dancers will bE in Kittery, Maine for a more intimate evening long performance. A perfect chance to escape the city and see one of New York's finest dance companies.

Fri & Sat, October 16 & 17 @ 8 pm 
Doug Varone and Dancers
Presented by World Music/CRASHArts
Institute for Contemporary Art Boston, Boston Waterfront
Doug Varone and Dancers present, among other works, the Boston premiere of ReComposed, inspired by the pastel drawings of Joan Mitchell and set to Max Richter's newly constructed version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Check out the pre-performance talks with BDA Executive Director Debra Cash, and stick around for the post-show discussion with the company on the 16th.

Fri, October 23 @ 6:30 pm 
Of Looms & Lillies
Featuring Weber Dance : Presented by Charles River Museum with Weber Dance
At Charles River Museum, Waltham MA
$30 / $25 Student/ Senior/ Charles River Museum Members
The Weber Dance Group will be bringing this evening length work at the Charles River Museum. The piece imagines a conversation between a modern woman and and a nineteenth century mill worker. Inspired by the history of the Lowell Mill, the lives of textile workers, and the detailed records of Thoreau, the dancert explore themes of the natural world in conflict with industry, the passage of time, and the lives of women. 

Tues, October 27 @ 8 pm
Thurs - Sat, October 29-31 @ 8 pm
Presented by Luminarium Dance
At Multicultural Arts Council, Lechemere
$25/ $20 Student/ $40 Double Feature!
Monkeyhouse loves Luminarium! We got a sneak peak at their upcoming evening length work during their 5th anniversary gala, and it was as eerie and ethereal as the title implies. We also have an awesome  where you can buy tickets to Luminarium and Monkeyhouse at the same time for just $40! That's two weekends of amazing dance concerts in a row! Monkeyhouse is leading a special talk back on Friday, and Thursday night Luminarium is having a post-show reception.  Come mingle with the dancers and creators of this breath-taking show!

October 22 - November 1st
Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler, a ballet by John Neumeier 
Presented by Boston Ballet
At the Boston Opera House, Downtown Crossing
The Boston Ballet will be the first North American company to perform John Neumeier's contemporary ballet. Set to the entirety of Mahler's Third Symphony, the dance is meant to capture the intensity of the music, while using it to explore life, death, grief, beauty and love. 


Collaborating with the Chevalier Theatre in Medford

MH 2012 Header
Connecting Communities with Choreography
Press ReleaseFor Immediate Release
Monkeyhouse Announces
Chevalier Kicks Off Collaboration To Get Kids Choreographing  

Medford, MA - September, 2015 - 

A budding choreographer takes flight during one of Monkeyhouse's activites at BoomTown in Cambridge
Photo Credit: JK Photo
How are you kicking off your school year? The Friends of the Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym are launching What's in a Name?, a program to benefit the physical, social and emotional well-being of children of the Boys and Girls Club of Medford. The program will provide weekly movement and choreography classes for 20 Medford children, led by an award-winning local nonprofit, Monkeyhouse. What's in a Name will span the 2015-16 academic year and will offer four opportunities for students to share their work with the public: two showings at Chevalier Theatre, a performance at Circle the Square, and a show of related artwork at Mystic Coffee Roaster.
Why should kids learn to choreograph?

karen and nicole
(l to r) Karen Krolak & Nicole Harris Photo Credit: Stephanie Suné
"Most dictionaries define choreography as just the process of creating dance steps. At Monkeyhouse, however, we describe it as learning to move with meaning," begins Karen Krolak, Monkeyhouse Founder/Artistic Director. "Through our workshops, we encourage students to explore their own strengths and weaknesses to find their unique movement style not just to copy someone else. They learn how to emphasize their individuality in productive ways that help teens to feel stronger and more confident," continues Nicole Harris, Monkeyhouse Co-Founder/Engagement Director. 
Through a series of movement and choreographic exercises, Monkeyhouse will work with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Medford to explore who the students are, where they fit in in their communities and what they hope to become over the course of the school year. Students will be given the basic tools of how to choreograph, including how to build movement phrases, how to use abstraction and how to generate transitions. In addition to their choreographic assignments, kids will be challenged to tell their own stories, learn about themselves and others, and build a stronger community within the group. "We are very excited to start on this new arts adventure with Monkeyhouse! This program will greatly enhance our Medford Club's programming and provide our members with a safe and creative space for self-expression, building self-confidence and learning new skills and techniques in the arts. We are so grateful to our partners, the Friends of the Chevalier and Gene Mack, and our supporters in the community for making this a reality for our young people." declares Lindsey Smythe, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County.
Developing a dynamic program that partners together diverse sectors of the nonprofit community with local businesses requires its own blend of fancy footwork.  The ChevalierTheatre Commission's newest member, Susan Fairchild, conceived of the idea for the collaboration.  "I knew if I could bring the right people together into the conversation, the idea would take off.  Monkeyhouse and The Medford Boys & Girls Club were a perfect match for each other! And CACHE has been presenting Circle the Square for four years now.  It was the perfect community event for showcasing the students' work, and to round out the team, Sharon Hepburn of Mystic Coffee Roasters has been an ardent supporter of arts in the community. Now we have a lot more than conversation happening!"
The program is funded by generous contributions from The Friends of the Chevalier, a Vanguard Charitable Donor Advised Fund, Medford's Thursday Fortnightly Club, and CACHE in Medford.  The Chevalier Theatre Commission is making the theater available to the program for rehearsals and performances.

About Friends of Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym
Friends of Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering financial and community support and being an advocate for the historic theater and gymnasium in Medford. Through promotion of cultural, theatrical, civic, and youth programs, the Friends strive to enrich the quality of life in the community.
About The Boys and Girls Club of Medford
The Medford Boys & Girls Club provides education, prevention and recreation programs after-school for more than 120 Medford children and teens Monday through Friday in the Gene Mack Gymnasium at 30 Forest Street. The Club provides a safe haven out of school time for youth to grow, learn and have fun. Our core programming includes Education and Career Exploration; The Arts; Sports, Fitness and Recreation; Character and Leadership Development; and, Healthy Lifestyles. Membership dues for any child are no more than $30 per year, ensuring that our Club is accessible and affordable to our community's most vulnerable children and families. For more information, please visit www.kidsclubs.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BGCMiddlesex.
About CACHE in Medford, Inc. 
CACHE in Medford, Inc. is a nonprofit organization made up of a coalition of over 20 different cultural institutions in Medford. They collectively advocate for the arts in Medford and work together to make our community more vibrant through events, projects, and collaborations with local businesses. CACHE created and sponsors Circle the Square, which presents music, art and other free entertainment in Medford Square for people of all ages on the 3rd Thursday of June, July and August.
About Mystic Coffee Roaster
Locally owned Mystic Coffee Roaster, located two blocks from the Medford Boys and Girls Club, partners with local arts-oriented organizations such as CACHE in Medford and to promote events, fundraising and general awareness of our arts community. They believe this helps to make our community a better place to live!
About The Medford The Medford CACCC (Chevalier Theatre Commission)
The Medford Civic Auditorium and Convention Center Commission (Chevalier Theatre Commission) was created by the City of Medford in 1981. Built in 1940 as part of Medford High School, Chevalier Theatre reopened as the city's performing arts center in 1992. It plays host to concerts, theatrical productions, and corporate and community events. The Medford Boys and Girls Club has operated out of the Gene Mack Gym since 2001. The Chevalier Commission oversees the operation of and continued improvements to the complex.
About Monkeyhouse
Monkeyhouse began with a promise to build a laboratory where choreographers could create, experiment and present new work.  Our mission has developed to include motivating people to move with meaning and improving communication by connecting communities with choreography.  Over the years we have mentored, nurtured and supported dozens of choreographers ranging from students first experimenting to established favorites.  We've had hundreds of conversations about different choreographic processes that stimulate or inspire new directions for our work and helped foster long term relationships with presenters, audience members and other choreographers.  

Monkeyhouse - PO Box 221 - Somerville, MA 02143

Peter DiMuro on ChoreoFest

by Aisha Cruse

ChoreoFest triumphantly ended just over a week ago, with much sighing and yawning and applause. And though the performances have concluded, the conversations continue! I was lucky enough to get to ask Dance Complex Executive Director Peter DiMuro a few questions about ChoreoFest and choreography at the Dance Complex, ChoreoFest's annual home.

A quick bit of background; a few weeks before the festival, the Dance Complex invited the ChoreoFest participants to take part in a Choreographer's Workshop lead by Peter, which was part of a longer event called Summer Sizzle. I eagerly accepted, and spent an amazing three hours building and deconstructing movement.

Given the Dance Complex's continued support of ChoreoFest, and knowing that Peter would be attending the performances, it made perfect sense to ask him some follow-up questions on the workshop and on ChoreoFest. Peter graciously and eloquently accepted.

Aisha Cruse: What made you invite the ChoreoFest participants to the Choreographer's Workshop?
Peter DiMuro: ​I often feel, that as young dance-makers, we're thrown into the world post-college or post-training with very little preparation as to what it means to "make dances". We're taught to make phrases, make-up movement. In technique class, there are combinations- often in straight lines across the floor. Even if we get to take a composition or choreography class, there is so little time to "undo" the majority of the time we spend in our training- isolating the technique from the "communication through movement".
I had seen the Choreofest through video and live snippets over the past few years, and felt that we might be able to help frame the intense 24 hour period with a mind set (and body-set!) that could de-rail the trained impetus to "gotta make up movement.." vs. "what are we communicating".

Aisha: The workshop we attended was part of a larger week-long event, which included an opportunity for choreographers to make and show work. Can you tell us a little about what
​ ​your goals were during the event and if it will be happening again?

​Peter: Each year we do two seasonal festivals- Winter Wonder and Summer Sizzle. This year, Summer Sizzle seemed to take on a new thread of creation- there was a choreographer's track as a through line, as well as some body/mind/moving somatics classes with Pam Pietro. I think with the choreo track and Pam's classes, the parallel in "how" we think about dance is the key ingredient: if we don't question the way we move, think, bundle and unbundle bodies and ultimately change (the hard part!!!), then we don't really have a chance to change the way we move, the way we create/craft dances.
As The Dance Complex continues, we will also keep reinforcing sustainable ways of thinking/doing- in our own Festivals like Winter Wonder and Summer Sizzle, but in on-going workshops we produce throughout the year- the CATALYST Classes, for instance.​

Aisha: ChoreoFest is incredibly happy to have the continued support of the Dance Complex. What kind of involvement does the Dance Complex (or do you) want to have with ChoreoFest in the future?
Peter: Since arriving here 2 summers ago, I feel like I am just understanding what the community holds as gifts to us- us at The Dance Complex but also for the whole community. It would be great to be involved with a workshop prior to the ChoreoFest as we did this year; I think it would/could get more means of interrupting patterns, ways of thinking.
I could see some of the works continuing on- and being presented in workshop or performance here say a few months later- what seed ideas are worth keeping or evolving into more?​

Aisha: Were there any moments while watching the performances that you saw or felt a connection to the skills we covered or discussions we had in the choreographer's workshop?
Peter: Of course the egotist in my wants to say, Sure! Everything connected! I'd love to ask the choreographer's the same question : how did they - or now, with reflection a few days later- interrupt the creative process patterns, movement patterns, spatial patterns, when under the gun like that.
I do think in watching that I saw the overall form of the dances- from each individual choreographer- be less connected to a known form (first a duet, now a solo, now a trio...now group unison- the kind of choreography that speaks to fulfilling some list of known ingredients). The dances felt more organically formed. And I sensed ownership by the dancers dancing- my own methods include a lot of work to get those performing to "own" movement right from the get-go, and not as a layer on top of "adding the performance", so this always is something that pops out.
It might be the nature of the 24 hour finite-ness that choreographers sense that they share creation/ownership in the process of making..​.or maybe partly the workshop that un-did some unspoken rule of the choreographer creating top down.
And I saw less unison! (That tool of the devil!) and when unison occurred, it felt less out of nowhere.
I'd encourage an examination of what, objectively with a few days passing, worked- even the unintentional aspects in performance, form, movement generation- and see if there is some way to set the likelihood that these can occur again..and that requires reflection and changing pattern....(It's always back to that! Dang!)

For more on Peter's work, please visit his website, PDM:Public Displays of Motion.
You can also find him on Facebook.


Social Giving September

Tomorrow kicks off Building Communities Week as part of Social Giving September.  For the next SIX days make a donation to Monkeyhouse and be entered to win tickets to our Misplaced/Displaced concert at the Multicultural Arts Center in October! 

We have made donations extra simple to celebrate #SGSeptember. Just find a #SGSeptember post on our Facebook or Twitter and comment "#donate" followed by the dollar amount you wish to donate. (For example: "#donate $25") GoodWorld will reach out to you directly to process your donation. It's that easy to help Monkeyhouse continue to build your community!

Once you've used #donate GoodWorld will contact you directly to fill out a one time donation form.  It's a quick and easy sign up and then you can use #donate whenever you want!  Keep checking in on social media to hear about our community partners for Misplaced/Displaced Season Part Three!

Just in case you were on the fence about making a donation, here are some of the amazing things you could win by participating in Building Communities Week:

EVERY donor will be entered to win tickets to Misplaced/Displaced at the Multicultural Arts Center in October!
We have a goal of $100/day for the six day campaign. If we reach our goal each day, one donor (selected at random) will win a prize! Prizes include a package hand drawn postcards made by our very own Engagement Director, Nicole; hand knit hats made during our first year on tour, 15 years ago; and more! For every additional increment of $100 reached each day another prize will be given away. (For example, if we raise $355 on Tuesday we will have three winners that day.)
Anyone who donates $25 or higher will receive one of our brand new super secret t-shirts. The design will be revealed tomorrow! 
GoodWorld will also be handing out prizes at random to donors, so you could win all sorts of stuff!

Looking for a way to double your dollars?  Here's how GoodWorld is helping your money go even further:

Post a photo of yourself using #donate and post it on Social Giving September's Facebook page (be sure to tag Monkeyhouse!) and they will donate an additional $10!

Feeling generous?  GoodWorld will donate an additional $25 for every donor who donates $1000 using #donate.

The organization who raises the most using #donate by the end of the week will be given an additional $1000!


ChoreoFest Interview: Nicole Harris interviews Nicole Harris!

Interview by and starring Nicole Harris

Introduction by Aisha Cruse

Displaying Counter Balance.jpg
Photo by Stephanie Sune

ChoreoFest ends TODAY!! We are 2 hours away from the first of this years ChoreoFest performances. To commemorate this wacky festival we've come to love, and finish up our choreographer interview series, we are delighted to bring you Nicole Harris, final third of ChoreoFest super group Paranarium House, interviewed by Nicole Harris, Monkeyhouse Engagement Director and the glue that holds our company together.

Nicole: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Nicole: I've always been interested in choreography. (I can remember some pretty amazing dances to Janet Jackson songs in my back yard way back when. Just ask Monkeyhouse's resident photographer, Jon Keith of JK Photo. He was witness to my genius and did some lip-syncing of his own. It was even caught on film. Too bad VHS went out of style, huh?) I was lucky enough to choreograph my very first professional piece at only 19 years old, thanks to Karen Krolak and Monkeyhouse. Karen has been a mentor to me in many ways over the years, but especially as a choreographer.
In 2011, after suffering a series of strokes, I got out of the hospital with a very hazy sense of what the future of my life as a dancer might look like. While I was determined to do all the things I was once able to do, I also knew it was going to be a long road. I began to really focus on who I am as a choreographer during the initial year of recovery. While I am back to dancing 100% (yay!) I am still enjoying figuring out new approaches to choreography, playing with ways of collaborating with other artists and negotiating the balance of how to coax what you are looking for out of a performer while truly valuing their own voice. 

NQ: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
NA: Holy Cow. The Paranarium House collaboration is feeling SO daunting! Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly excited for the opportunity, but like all new things, it's also scary! Not only will I be co-choreographing with two (incredible) people I have never worked with, but we are going to have 14 dancers. Yes, you read that right. FOURTEEN! That's a whole lot of bodies and voices to negotiate!

NQ: Have you participated in ChoreoFest before?
NA: This is Monkeyhouse's fourth ChoreoFest, although it's only my third. 

NQ: If so, what is your favorite memory of that experience?
NA: I think my favorite memory is from my first year (2013) when I was working with the beautiful Shannon Sullivan. Our piece had a folding table in it, which we found lurking somewhere at the Dance Complex. (Have I mentioned how awesome the Dance Complex is for hosting this shindig? Thanks, guys!) We started the piece sitting at the table playing cards. During our dress rehearsal (after I slept for all of 30 minutes the night before) we started the piece and the table collapsed, sending cards flying everywhere. I am not sure I did more than three shuffles for the rest of the piece I was laughing so hard. It was a complete disaster! Luckily the performances were significantly better and the piece turned out pretty good, despite our technical problems...!

NQ: What advice do you have for new ChoreoFest choreographers?
NA: Give yourself permission to relax. The goal of the festival is NOT perfection. It's about community and the choreographic process. Talk to other companies. See what other people are doing. Give and take feedback. You don't need to pound out 15 minutes of technically perfect movement. Take chances! Have fun! And for goodness sake... SLEEP!

NQ: Are there things you hope to do differently this time?
NA: That's hard to say because every year has been very different for me. The first year I was creating a duet and we were very equally choreographers. The second year I actually didn't even end up performing. I helped Karen with some choreographic bits. And I threw a ball of yarn at Sam Mullen's head. This year is a whole new ball of different, with the Paranarium House collaboration. I'm just excited to see what we get!

NQ: Since this is a very controlled creative space (in terms of time and topic) where do you see yourself starting when you get in the space?
NA: We have already talked about wanting to use lots of improvisation and writing exercises to get us going. Plus, since we are combining three companies, we are going to have lots of getting to know you time at the start! We will also be doing some music making. Everyone has been asked to bring an instrument/something that makes noise. (Watch out, other companies, there are 17 of us and we're bringing kazoos!) So I'm guessing those will come into play real early in the process!

NQ: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
NA: Personally, I try to have a lot of input from dancers. My work is almost always a collaboration. Since we are all different personalities and bodies I don't find it to be useful to make everyone mimic me! (Besides, an army of Nicole's sounds terrifying, doesn't it!?) I always tell my students that I want them to be humans first, dancers second. So my process involves lots of talking and feedback and bouncing ideas around.

NQ: Knowing that Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru", what things do you hope she can help with in the overnight process?
NA: I cannot tell you how much I value Karen's guru skills. As I mentioned earlier, she has had a profound impact on my life. She has an incredible ability to ask the right questions to make you look at things in a way you hadn't considered before. Especially with the Paranarium House collaboration, I'm really looking to her as an outside eye/voice to help our trio of choreographers see what we might be missing.

NQ: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
NA: Oh my. Where to begin? Well, most obviously, my partner in crime, Karen Krolak. However, to keep from sounding like a fanatical broken record I'm going to talk about some other people instead.
First and foremost, I HUGELY admire Michelle Dorrance. Anybody who has ever heard me talk about tap dancing - or dancing of any sort - or choreography - or who have just been in a room with me for more than 20 minutes - has heard me talk about Michelle. She has a brilliant use of rhythm and sound, but more than that she has a true choreographic voice/style. Many tap choreographers can create incredible sounds and rhythmic phrases, but don't capture the breadth of what a piece of choreography can be when it comes staging. As a modern choreographer you learn about planes and levels and character development and a million other things, which can often be incredibly difficult to transfer to the art of tap dancing. Michelle does so remarkably. Right. I was trying to stay away from fanatical... Moving on!
Sticking with tap choreographers for a moment, in recent years I have been following the work of Nicholas Young. He too is telling a story with his work and a strong one at that. He also does has really fascinating electronics that he has been playing with. I strongly recommend you check him out.
I remember the first time I saw choreography that made me want to get inside the mind of the choreographer and learn how to do what he does, while watching Bill T. Jones' Still/Here. I have always been impressed with his use of multimedia/interdisciplinary arts; his willingness to constantly take chances and push boundaries; and, in the early years, to throw away the "dancer body" conventions within his company.
During a rather unpleasant freshman year of college I discovered Doug Elkins. I clearly remember saying to my friend Tina at the time, THAT is what I want to do. I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug last year and had the same thought again. I love his blending of styles, storytelling devices and use of humor. And the man is brilliant. Wow.

NQ: Who are your mentors?
NA: I've already talked about one Karen Krolak...
I have also been lucky enough to study extensively with tap dancers Lynn Schwab and Derick Grant. Both have taught me more than I can ever say and are truly brilliant and beautiful people both in the studio and out.
While there are many other people I could mention, I think I've already had the longest interview by miles, so I'm just going to say one last person.
For twelve years I had the good fortune to work beside Margaret Hagemeister during our time running the drama program at Natick High School. Why she chose to hire me to begin with, a young, nervous choreographer with no real experience to speak of, I have never fully understood. With her ever steady support and guidance, I learned to become a better, more confident teacher, how to be a director and to have a real love and appreciation for musical theatre. Thank you to you all!

NQ: How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
NA: It's funny to say what you've given someone else. I would like to think that I have passed along not only technique and knowledge to my students, but that I've been able to give them the freedom to discover their own voices and the support that has been given to me as I've tried and failed and tried again. I guess you'll have to ask them, though...
No matter what, I think I try to first and foremost make my students understand that they have value. Their opinions have value. Their lives have value. Their fears and triumphs and mistakes all have value. And that I will be here to remind you of that.

NQ: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
NA: Come see me and my Monkeyhouse cohorts at the Multicultural Arts Center on October 23rd/24th! We are turning 15 and building a concert that's really remarkable!

Monkeyhouse can be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/MonkeyhouseLovesMe), Twitter (@m0nkeyhouse), Instagram (@MonkeyhouseLovesMe) and on our website (MonkeyhouseLovesMe.com) As the social media guru/Engagment Director of Monkeyhouse, I am often the voice you hear in all of the above!


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