7/6/14

Getting to Know TPO


This summer Monkeyhouse has been honored to interview some of the incredible artists performing at Jacob's Pillow.  Here is our first interview with the artists of TPO.  Check out their interactive performance at Jacob's Pillow today!

NH:  I love interactive work.  I am very curious about what you’ve noticed about how different communities react to and interact with your work.  I know you are primarily geared towards children, however I would assume many adults also take part in your work.  Is there a difference in how those two groups behave?  What are circumstances that get adults involved that differs from how you work with young audiences? 
TPO:  There are some differences in behavior, of course.  Adults (apart from dancers) have less spontaneity or agility in moving on the ground, but they seem to feel comfortable interacting together with their children. Sometimes indeed it is important for the kids watch adult acting or playing with sensors [in the work] since they don’t like to be just observed.  In any case we consider our works oriented for kids. 

NH:  Your work has traveled all over the world.  Have you found that different parts of the world interact differently?
TPO:  Yes, kids could be quite different.  Generally speaking there are kid that act naturally without thinking so much and other that need to “understand” how the relationship of cause/effect is working.

NH:  Since your work is so multidisciplinary, how do you get started in the creation of a new work?
TPO:  Our process is reminiscent in some aspects to cinema. We work as a team, we starts from a storyboard than we develop the concept of any single scene considering the limits or the potentiality of the devices we are using. So, first we discuss a lot about the interaction images/sound and how it could work then we do many improvisation sessions with dancers and kids. So normally we need four months to prepare a new show.

NH:  What is your collaborative process between the disciplines?
TPO:  We are a polyhedric team: directors, engineers, video maker, musicians, scenographer.  We all work together without any hierarchy

NH:  You are performing at Jacob’s Pillow.  Can you tell me a bit about BLEU! and where it came from?
TPO:  This story of the sailor’s encounter with the forces of nature is inspired by the legends and mythologies that the Mediterranean Basin has treasured since the beginning of time. Two dancers take their place on stage: he is a Sailor, She is a magical character. 
A few at a time groups from the audience will be invited into the stage space, as little sailors, to take active part in the games that mark various situations arising during the narration of the story.  The mysterious woman figure is at times the sky, at others the wind, wave, sea. She will lead the Sailor – and the many little sailors in the audience – on a journey through landscapes of nature and of fantasy. 

6/13/14

Dance'n Feet @ DWC Saturday

by karen Krolak

Saturday is a special day for me filled with performances by some of my favorite dancers. Over the course of the afternoon, my choreography will be presented by second graders on up to seniors...both the kind that are graduating high school and ones in their seventies. While I will spend the day in Natick cheering on my students from Impulse Dance Center, the mighty women of Dance'n Feet will be showing off their splits, lifts, and head stands at the 6th annual Dance For World Community festival in Harvard Square.

If you have never seen Dance'n Feet before, I think they will surprise you with their chutzpah and acrobatics. Between the group of twelve women in their 60's and 70's, they have dozens of grandchildren. Some members have survived cancer while others have endured through the loss of a spouse. One of them performed on Broadway before she settled down to raise a family. Each week at their rehearsals, I marvel at their willingness to embrace challenging physical exercises. They do not obsess about mistakes and they relish their rapid progress. They dance because they can.

I am so proud of Dance'n Feet and wish that I could be there as they perform to Uncle Monsterface's take on Madonna. If you attend this free event, please hoot, hollar, and just shout strange sounds for me.

Danceʼn Feet
SATURDAY, JUNE 14
2:10 PM

Massachusetts Ave. between Remington and Bow Streets
Harvard Square, Cambridge



6/4/14

Translation of "Getting to Know Felipe Galganni"

by Nicole Harris 


Last year we interviewed tap dancer Felipe Galganni.  I thought we would re-share his interview with you but this time in his native language.  You can find the English version of this interview here.  I also strongly recommend you check out this beautiful piece of choreography!  Thank you, Felipe, for providing the translation!


 NH: Quem são seus coreógrafos favoritos ( sapateado e outros estilos)?
FG: Chikako Iwahori, Brenda Bufalino, Max Pollak, Lynn Schwab, Michelle Dorrance. Eu também adoro o Bob Fosse.

NH: O contato com Heather Cornell teve uma grande influência na sua vida. Como a dança dela se comunicou com o seu trabalho?
FG: Tive o primeiro contato com a Heather num workshop no Rio de Janeiro em 2010. A cidade de São Paulo não é um local onde temos muitas aulas com estrangeiros, por isso eu aproveitava todas as oportunidades que surgiam.

Eu me apaixonei quando conheci a Heather. Sua doçura, sua humildade e o jeito com que ela ensina sapateado e música me inspiraram para realizar um curso intensivo de verão em NY. Dois meses antes de viajar, decidi vender meu carro e me mudar para os EUA. E desde então, estou aqui.

NH: Você cresceu estudando outras modalidades de dança além do sapateado americano. Você continua fazendo essas outras aulas? Você sente que ter estudado outros estilos de dança colaborou com seu sapateado?
FG: Eu cresci vendo e dançando samba como a maioria dos brasileiros. Estudei jazz, sapateado, ballet e contemporâneo. Nunca fui um grande bailarino, mas a dança me ajudou a desenvolver habilidades básicas, como os giros e o equilíbrio. Além disso, me ajudou a considerar meu corpo como um todo no sapateado, e não só os pés.

NH:  Recentemente, você me contou a história sobre o seu primeiro par de sapatos e sua primeira aula de sapateado. Você pode dividir essa história com a gente?
FG: Claro! Quando eu tinha 14 anos ganhei um dinheiro de presente de aniversário da minha família e decidi comprar meu primeiro sapato. Eu "praticava" em casa e até fiz uma performance na escola, mesmo sem nunca ter feito uma aula.

Então, quando eu tinha quinze anos, finalmente encontrei uma escola de dança que tinha sapateado na grade. Eu me lembro que não era muito barato, mas meus pais apoiaram a minha vontade.

Quando cheguei na aula a professora me perguntou se eu já havia sapateado antes. Eu disse que sim, e ela me pediu se eu poderia mostrar meu passo favorito. Fiz um estilo único de dança, que até hoje não me lembro o que foi, mas sapateei (risos). Anos depois ela me lembrou deste fato e rimos muito. Seu nome é Valeria Petroni, e ela foi uma excelente professora nos meus primeiros anos de sapateado. Sou muito grato por ter aprendido tanto com ela.

NH: Você pode me falar da comunidade de sapateado do Brazil comparada com Nova York?
FG: Como mencionei antes, sou de São Paulo e a comunidade é muito pequena. Eu estava sempre viajando para cidades próximas, ou trazendo profissionais para dar aulas na cidade. Já passei por situações em que tive que explicar para as pessoas o que era o sapateado, porque elas nunca tinham ouvido falar na dança. O que é compreensível, pois é uma forma de arte americana. Entretanto, a comunidade tem crescido muito nos últimos anos e e ela conta com meu total apoio.

NH: Faz três anos que você mudou do Brasil para os Estados Unidos, e falando com você eu diria que seu inglês é muito bom. Você pode contar um pouco de como era dar aulas quando seu inglês não era tão afiado? Qual tipo de ferramentas você usava para se comunicar quando as palavras lhe faltavam
FG: Eu me lembro quando dei a minha primeira aula nos EUA. Foi para a Lynn Schwab na Steps on Broadway. É difícil quando você precisa explicar coisas que está acostumado a dizer em outra língua. Eu me senti frustrado e trabalhei duro. Enfrentei o desafio, e aprendi muito perguntando para os próprios alunos quando não sabia.

Honestamente, meu inglês ainda não é perfeito, e ainda tenho que aprender bastante. Por exemplo, na aula de hoje, a única maneira que encontrei para explicar o que queria foi dizendo: “Imagine você usando uma fralda”. Depois, eu afirmei: “Hora de colocar a fralda!”. E, claro, no final da aula, eu lembrei: “Não esqueça de trazer sua fralda na próxima aula”. É divertido!

4/24/14

Word of the Day!

by Karen Krolak

As we get more in depth with the goings on at Monkeyhouse I thought it would be helpful to explain a little Monkeyhouse vocabulary and provide some insight into our programs.  Don't worry, there won't be a quiz!

MUSINGS - What is a Musing?  Where did they come from?  Who participates?

Musings are an ongoing series of workshops that provide a time, space, and dancers for choreographers to sketch out ideas. While some ideas may eventually get developed into a piece, this process is different from a rehearsal. 

In 2008, I dreamed up some dance phrases but I wasn't sure if or how to expand them into a piece. So I rented Green Street Studios and invited a group of dancers to meet with me. I emphasized that this was a time to play. No one would be required to remember choreography from week to week and there was no performance to prepare. I was surprised that about 6 dancers agreed to attend the first three Musings. None of my movement phrases from those sessions ever coalesced into a piece but the research process lead her to create a trio named ingeniculation which premiered at First Night. Caitlin Meehan also credits a comment that Jason shared at one of those early Musings with sparking her solo,a,b,c,d, none of the aboveIn addition all the dancers talked about how much they enjoyed having time to play without pressure. We knew that this was a Monkeyhouse innovation that we needed to cultivate. 

Monkeyhouse is the only company we know of that dedicates regular time to support this type of choreographic exploration. It has helped many of our younger dancers to gain the courage to try out their own choreographic ideas, and has become a useful way to discover whether new dancers or outside choreographers will be a good fit for our creative process. In recent years we have invited other dance companies to join our Musings which has promoted a spirit of collaboration within the Boston dance community, helped other dance artists to navigate creative obstacles, and energized our company. 

Often the Musings start with a question, such as "What are some ways that you can fall a across the floor as if you were falling through a deep hole?" "How can you get someone to up from the floor without touching her?" or "What happens when you send pairs of people out into the downtown Medford area with one person blindfolded and the other as their leader/guardian?" (Yes, that happened.) As we are gathering ideas for the site-specific piece at Endicott, for example, we have investigated questions about how a group shapes an individual or an individual shapes a group during our open Musings with the Endicott Dance Ensemble.

Have you got an idea you'd like us to Muse on?  Let us know!

4/18/14

Monkeyhouse is Celebrating Spring!

Boomtown Princess"Blue skies, smiling at me!  Nothing but blue skies do I see!"  

The lovely Ella Fitzgerald and I are celebrating this gloriously sunny start to April.  Don't worry though, Karen is all set with her umbrella for the spring showers that we all know are heading our way in the coming weeks.

We are full of celebrations around here and we are bursting at the seams with excitement! 
First, we are thrilled to introduce you to our newest choreographic interns from Natick High School: Deirdre Ross, Vicky Awkward and Marie Libbin. They will be working with us for almost 20 hours/week over the course of the next five weeks. Keep an eye out for more from them soon!

Next we are working on a SUPER TOP SECRET and AMAZINGLY EXCITING new project for the fall.  And unfortunately, that is all I can tell you at this moment but I promise, it is dance around your apartment like a crazy person kind of awesomeness.  We'll let you know as soon as everything is confirmed!

We have several new faces popping up around Monkeyhouse.  Brianna Unsworth Samantha Mullen, whom you met at Dance in the Fells back in October, can be found Musing with us from time to time on Saturdays.  And our dear friend Margaret Hagemeister has joined the board!  We're so excited to share the Monkeyhouse mission with new people!

Finally, with all this warmer weather heading our way we are hitting the streets! As part of our Misplaced/Displaced theme for the season we'll be collaborating with students from Endicott's Dance Ensemble to create a site specific performance in May.  We're looking forward to lots of outside Musings in preparation!

What are you doing to celebrate the return of blue skies?  Tell us all about it on Facebook!
Best-- Nicole and All your friends at Monkeyhouse

4/15/14

Congratulations to Lorraine Chapman & Green Street Studios!

by karen Krolak

One of the very first choreographers that I met when I moved back to Boston 17 years ago was Lorraine Chapman. When we were both selected for the first concert produced by the Choreographers' Group at Green Street Studios in Cambridge, she found time to grab coffee with me several times, something that made the local dance community seem far less intimidating to me. As I struggled to develop the soundscape for Mourning After/Ululation, she helped me to find an amazing sound designer, David Remedios. In the ensuing decades, our paths have criss-crossed numerous times as we danced in Nut/cracked, designed pieces for Dance in the Fells, or bumped into each other at performances. Her sublime mix of quirky humor and innate elegance always impresses me.

As I have been navigating through the process of mourning my family members, I have not attended as many dance concerts as I used to. But, when David Parker and the Bang Group's Head Over Heels popped up at the Oberon Theater a few weeks ago, I knew I had to see it. I was feeling self conscious and out of place after the show ended and then Lorraine approached me with her expressive arms outstretched for a hug. Within minutes she was trying to help Monkeyhouse find a space for a new home and offering observations on her own grieving processes. Her thoughtfulness helped to quell my discomfort and encouraged me to get up and reconnect with other dance artists in the room. As we said goodbye, she hinted that big changes were brewing over at Green Street Studios.

For those of you who don't know, Green Street Studios is one of the anchors of the Boston's dance scene and they have had a nail biting year of negotiations to stay in their current space. As Central Square has become more commercially viable, this nonprofit has wrestled to keep up with the rising rents. On several occasions in the last ten years, it has looked like the dance world might lose this precious resource. Green Street Studios has a special place in my heart both because it is the first place the I presented my choreography in Boston and because their space grant program introduced me to Monkeyhouse artists, Nikki Sao Pedro-Welch and Caitlin Meehan. You can only imagine how delighted I was to skim over some of my Facebook feed to discover that Green Street Studios has just signed a lease for another two years at their current location and that Lorraine has just been named the new Artistic Director!

It is a blustery, rainy afternoon here in Boston. Downtown thousands of people have gathered to remember the strength that our city demonstrated in wake of the 2013 marathon tragedy. I am thankful for this news about the resilience of my community here. Running a dance nonprofit is a marathon of endurance, determination, and blind love but it is easier when you are alongside others who inspire you.

4/14/14

Happy April Birthdays!

We'd like to wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to:
Laya Barak, Taylor Henry, Nikki Sao Pedro-Welch
Carson MurphyLeslie ArmstrongDavid ParkerMaud Arnold, Jaguar Bennett, Stephen Harris, Gaby Mervis, Susan Potters, 
Phinneas Baker, Audra Carabetta and Merce Cunningham

Want to learn more about one of these amazing folks?  Click their names!  If you want to see your name here just update your contact information on our mailing list to include your birthday.  We'll wish you a happy birthday on Facebook too!

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