Happy SWAN Day!

by Karen Krolak

Greetings from Chicago on a gorgeous afternoon. I am celebrating SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) day with one of my favorite female playwrights, Penny Penniston. (Psst...she is almost finished with her new book about how to write dialouges.) We just popped over to First Slice Cafe for some scrumptious soup and dined amidst an eclectic array of work by the LillStreet Potters.

Luckily, my agenda often overflows with exhibitions, plays, dances, concerts, and films created by idiosyncratic and expressive women. In fact, there's a rumor that my 3 year old niece has prepared a dance piece to show me this afternoon so I must run. However, if you are looking for ways to encourage women artists in your area, you can search for events here.

If you are anywhere near Cambridge, MA, I highly recommend that you check out the concert curated by Emily Beattie, a fabulous Boston based choreographer, at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (By the way, did you know that CMAC's Executive Director, Shelly Neill is also a glorious jazz voaclist? You can check her out on May 1.).

If you are wondering why it is important to recognize the impact of women in the arts today, perhaps you should consider this quote from Apollinaire Scherr's November 4, 2001 New York Times article, "In 2000, of 18 modern-dance choreographers who received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, 13 were men. The men received a total of $200,000, with a typical grant of $10,000; the women received a total of $45,000, with a typical grant of $5,000."

Support Women Artists Now!


March 28, 2009 www.SwanDay.org


Another Quick Conversation with a Critical Moves Choreographer - Karl Cronin

by Karen Krolak

Let's continue on with our spree of interviews today. Given my Somerville Artist Fellowship project, I am particularly interested in seeing Karl Cronin's Fieldnotes from Amur Corktree since it sprung from a series of walks he has been taking in Forte Green Park. There is something so thrilling about people investigating paralell creative processes. So strange to think that I never really realized our points of intersection when he lived in Boston. Thanks for bringing him back Alissa.

kK: Can you briefly describe your piece?

KC:This piece is an exploration of physical encounters collected during 10 minutes on March 3, 2009 near the Amur Corktree in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn (NY). It is a distillation of what happened - both the meaningful and the quotidian.

kK: How did you begin developing it?

KC: I went to park on March 3, 2009 at 10:15am.
I set a timer for 10 minutes and began engaging with the environment, following my interests.
At the end of the 10 minutes, I went back over what happened.
Where did move?
What physicality did I embody?
What did I attend to in the environment?
I wrote these observations down and put them in my Field Log.

kK: What was your biggest challenge during the rehearsal process?
KC: Finding my exact physicality in the park so I could translate it to the stage.
For instance, when you walk up a hill, you pitch forward and stretch your calf.
When you replicate that on a flat surface, can you find those same "hill indicators" in your body?

Fri March 20, 8pm & Sat March 21, 8pm
Green Street Studios Center for Movement & Dance,
185 Green Street (Central Sq) Cambridge, MA
Reservations at 617-864-3191
Tickets: $20/$15 students & BDA

A Quick Conversation with a Critical Moves Choreographer: Rebecca Pappas

By Karen Krolak

I relish the chance to discover new choreographers. So as I mentioned in the interview with Alissa Cardone, I am rather excited about her Critical Moves performance on Saturday night.

It would have been delightful to interview each of the choreographers at length but I didn't want to intrude on their preparations for tonight's concert. Instead, I sent out the same three quick questions to each person.

We'll start with Rebecca Pappas from California whose work has been presented at The Yerba Buena Gardens, ODC Theater, The Cowell Theater, Theater Artaud, Monterey Dance Festival, and Westwave/Summerfest.

kK: Can you briefly describe your piece?

RP: Thumbnail is a solo for small spaces that weaves together personal shames about appearance and body with larger political shames about my own Jewish heritage and the state of Israel.

kK: How did you begin developing it?

RP: It was actually developed as an assignment for a class at UCLA where I am working on my Master of Fine Arts in Choreography. It came from crossing a small study about abortion and the female body with a small study about the conflict in Palestine and my own sense of Jewish history.

kK: What was your biggest challenge during the rehearsal process?

RP: The biggest challenge during the rehearsal process is that this is a solo piece and there is no one else in the studio to keep me working or to let me know when I am on the "right" track. I am always more interested in being outside a piece that within it.

Fri March 20, 8pm & Sat March 21, 8pm
Green Street Studios Center for Movement & Dance,
185 Green Street (Central Sq) Cambridge, MA
Reservations at 617-864-3191
Tickets: $20/$15 students & BDA


An Interview with Alissa Cardone

by Karen Krolak

Whether her eccentric grace appears on film or on stage or even on a crowded street at lunch time, Alissa Cardone's bold choreographic voice captivates audiences. In between earning her MA at NYU's Department of Performance Studies and working on her MFA in World Arts and Culture at UCLA, she has helped create Kinodance (Voted on of Dance Magazine's 25 to Watch for 2008), co-curated the Boston Cyberarts Festival, and launched the Critical Moves Contemporary Dance Series.

Recently, she has was invited to participate in the New England Foundation for the Arts Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) and selected for a joint residency at Summer Stages and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. She has also been awarded numerous grants (including an Artist Fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council) and has performed in Japan, Russia, and Armenia. Somehow she graciously found a few moments this week to chat with me.

kK: My word, you have been busy this week. I read on the Dance Action Network that you created a public Butoh laboratory on Wednesday in Downtown Crossing entitled, SLOW. How did people react to it?

AC: There was a fairly equal amount of aggressive commentary and curious spectatorship. Someone joked that the Puritan spirit still looms over Boston. Some homeless people joined us. As a simple social experiment it offered the possibility of another pace, another way to exist in a public space. It was incredibly transformative for the participants to have an hour in a held, structured space to move slowly and re-frame time and experiences of time.

We fill our lives with activity, productivity and forget that if you slow down there are whole new possibilities and profoundly simple discoveries and observances to be made. Awareness is vital and starts with your own body and self and the quality of that awareness is reflected in your connection to other people and things within your local environment.

kK: And this weekend you are presenting Adele Myers & Dancers, Carol Somers, Karl Cronin, Rebecca Pappas, and Talya Epstein at Green Street Studios as part of your project, Critical Moves. How long have you been curating Critical Moves?

AC: I think I did the first show in 2005.

kK: And, is there an organizing theme or connection between the works in this concert?

AC: For this particular concert, no. In the past, yes.

kK: Do you select specific pieces from each choreographer or do you let them choose what they will present?

Sometimes I go after a specific piece if I've had the chance to see it before. Ninety-nine percent of the time I'm familiar with someones work and its trajectory - I have a sense of what they're obsessed with and am interested in cultivating it. It can be risky if I've never seen the actual work before, but I trust the quality of attention that drew me to that person's work in the first place. I don't always "like" the work I present, however, a curator has to look beyond one's own aesthetics and recognize work that should be shown.

kK: So, what excites you about the choreographers that you have chosen?

AC: They are exploring and experimenting with material that is vital to them.

kK: What prompted you to start this series?

AC: A need for it and Green Street Studios openness to collaborate with me. They believed in a vision. There is such a lack of presenting opportunities for ANY dance work and this was a fully produced opportunity that could provide artist fees. I saw a benefit for curated shows vs. shared concerts where you never know what you're going to get. I also wanted to get dialogue going between artists in other cities, outside Boston, regional, international. People like Lacina Coulibaly from Burkina Faso or Luciana Achugar in New York.

I also wanted to distinguish presenting contemporary dance vs. modern dance and contribute to educating audiences about dance. I wanted to start cultivating a way for people to distinguish between amateur and professional work.

kK: How does curating these concerts relate to your own creative process?

AC: Seeing work is an engagement with meaning-making as is dance making. Dance is an international community and many of us dialogue with each other thru what we create. Some of the pieces in this particular concert deal with process, physicality, question or push form or challenge audience/performer relationship. I am interested in these ideas. Don't you have that feeling sometimes when you see work? It can inspire, clarify, annoy, piss you off but ultimately makes you ask questions. Maybe seeing work makes you ask the same questions over and over again or you find new questions. Questions are provocative. However, knowing what the right questions to ask is often the biggest challenge and seeing work can sometimes jog the brain.

kK: Thanks Alissa, I look forward to seeing the show on Saturday.

AC: Thank you, Karen.

Fri March 20, 8pm & Sat March 21, 8pm
Green Street Studios Center for Movement & Dance,
185 Green Street (Central Sq) Cambridge, MA
Reservations at 617-864-3191
Tickets: $20/$15 students & BDA
Adele Myers & Dancers (NYC/New Haven, CT), Carol Somers (Boston),
Karl Cronin (NYC), Rebecca Pappas (LA), Talya Epstein (NYC)

Post-performance discussions will follow both shows.


Gratitude for Michael Shannon

by Karen Krolak

Monkeyhouse lost a great friend yesterday when Dr. Michael Shannon passed away in New York en route from a tango trip in Argentina. Having served on the Board of the Boston Dance Alliance with him for the past two years, I was charmed by his gentle guidance of the organization and his tremendous enthusiasm for all forms of dance.

He had an incredibly generous spirit and his loss will reverberate through many different communities in this city. Our thoughts go out to all his family and friends during this incredibly sad time.

We will miss you, Michael.


Roaming on March 8

by Karen Krolak

This will be brief as it is almost time to set my clock forward and I have a 12 hour rehearsal for Coriolanus (lovely article in the Boston Globe about it on Friday) awaiting me in the morning. Sitting in the castle shaped Amory building on this surprisingly warm afternoon listening to all the references to Rome in the play today, I savored memories of wandering around the city exactly a year ago.

Echoes of the man playing his saxophone standing in a cardboard box on an ancient bridge at dusk (one of the sound clips that I wove into the soundscape for Pochemuchka, one of Monkeyhouse's First Night premieres) snuck into my mind several times.

I was on my way to Simone Forti's Logomotion workshop in Orvieto and spent two glorious days meandering about Rome alone without any agenda. Setting off each afternoon from the magnificent Maria-Rosa Guesthouse overflowing with suggestions from Sylvie, I found plenty of adventure and several secret nooks. (It also fueled the idea for my pedestrian project in Somerville.)

It was fantastic precursor to the incredible creative sparks generated by my time in Orvieto surrounded by an exhilarating group of women from all over the world. Simone seemed to know how to unleash the appetite for artistic boldness in each of us. Working in Italian, English, French, Croatian, Greek, Turkish, German, and what ever other languages seemed useful, we investigated unexpected intersections in our lives. The somewhat surreal, tromp d'oeuil landscape on the walls the former castle provided an exquisite backdrop for our daily improvisations.

As a group, we all agreed that we should try to develop ways to continue creating projects together after we returned to our homes. Many of us have kept in touch or visited each other since we dispersed after our ending performance in Rome. So this year, we decided to explore a structure where each of us would devise an 8-minute solo wherever we were and find a way to share it with each other. I am so excited to see what develops that I am still up typing.


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