Break Out Your Tap Shoes!

by Nicole Harris

Have your tap shoes been gathering dust in the closet? Are you looking for a way to celebrate this last week of August? (I know, I'm in shock too. What happened to the summer?) Well, have I got the solution for you! I will be teaching tap at Steps on Broadway (2121 Broadway (at 74th St) New York City) this week! I'll be teaching Int Tap on Thursday, August 27th from 4:30-6:00 and Adv Beg Tap on Friday, August 28th from 6:15-745, so come on out and join the fun!

I hope to see you there!


Rachel Maddow's Pillow Talk

by Karen Krolak

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I curled up in the roots of a great tree and heard Suzanne Carbonneau interview Rachel Maddow at Jacob's Pillow a few weeks ago. Afterwards, though, I kicked myself because I was too absorbed in listening to take intelligible notes. However, a few days later Debra Cash, one of Boston's most established dance writers, sent out some quotes from this talk on the Dance Action Network. Thanks to Mariclare Hulbert from the Pillow's Press office for transcribing Rachel's thoughts, granting permission to reprint these ideas, and sharing these photos with us. 

 "I know nothing about dance. I am a fan. I am a fan of dance and  of Jacob's Pillow and a fan of people who know nothing about dance." - Rachel Maddow

"Sometimes we choose to serve our country in uniform, in war. Sometimes in elected office. And those are the ways of serving our country that I think we are trained to easily call heroic. Its also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools. A country without an expectation of minimal artistic literacy, without a basic structure by which the artists among us can be awakened and given the choic
e of following their talents and a way to get to be great at what they do, is a country that is not actually as a great as it could be. And a country without the capacity to nurture artistic greatness is not being a great country. It is a service to our country, and sometimes it is heroic service to our country, to fight for the United States of America to have the capacity to nurture artistic greatness." - Rachel Maddow

"Not just in wartime but especially in wartime, and not just in hard economic times but especially in hard economic times, the arts get dismissed as sissy. Dance gets dismissed as craft, creativity gets dismissed as inessential, to the detriment of our country. And so when we fight for dance, when we buy art that is made by living American artists, when we say that even when you cut education to the bone, you do not cut arts and music education, because arts and music education IS bone, it is structural, is it essential; you are, in [Jacobs Pillow founder] Ted Shawn's words, you are preserving the way of life that we are supposedly fighting for and its worth being proud of." - Rachel Maddow


NEA Grantee of the Day - Dance Theater Workshop

(Part of an ongoing series that demonstrates how some of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Direct Grantees have influenced Monkeyhouse's growth.)

By Karen Krolak
Dance Theater Workshop/New York, NY/$50,000 - Dance Theater Workshop (DTW) invited me to participate in two amazing workshops in the Spring of 2004. Each week, I would truck down to New York on Thursday afternoon just in time for a Writing on Dance class with Wendy Perron, Editor of Dance Magazine. Having studied with her at Jacob's Pillow's International Improvisation Workshop in 1992, I was delighted to recognize parallels between her creative processes in writing and dancing. Her exercises and critiques pushed me to develop a more active approach to describing dance.

This course vastly improved Monkeyhouse's outreach materials and press releases. Whenever Monkeyhouse's supporters compliment us on the quality of our blog posts or enews articles, DTW and Wendy deserve a huge chunk of that praise.

Friday mornings, I would return to DTW for the Bessie Schönberg Laboratory in Composition led by Patricia Hoffbauer. I have lost touch with most of the other choreographers from this group but I still keep tabs on Kiyoko Kashiwagi. Kiyoko was building a whip smart, anime inspired version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Using her jazz sneakers as pointe slippers and manipulating her cleverly designed costume, she would seamlessly transform from a ninja to mad scientist to token love interest. Her splashes of silent film slapstick accented her effortlessly elegant ballet technique. It was deliriously fun to witness this piece's evolution.

Since I was grappling with my first case of choreographer's block, I loved getting regular feedback on my work as it was struggling to take shape. Patricia's advice shook me out of this period of stagnation. There aren't many instructors who would be so willing to continue chatting about choreography after a three hour class but Patricia was always willing to go out for coffee with me. Though my choreographic sketches from this Lab did not develop into a full piece, I have stolen phrases and images from it for Doattee and Pelargic.

I won't lie; some of those 8 hour round trip jaunts to the Big Apple were beastly. Boston, however, does not have resources like this for emerging artists. So if I have not said it enough, thanks DTW for creating these opportunities and for sharing them with an out-of-state member.


Guest Artist At Dancing Arts Center

by Karen Krolak

If you are out in the suburbs of Boston today searching for an artistic adventure, I highly reccomend dropping by the Dancing Arts Center in Holliston, MA. At 4:30 and 6:30, students will present a diverse selection of Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Flamenco pieces created during the 2009 summer session. For the last three weeks, I have been a guest artist for the Elementary Intermediate level Modern classes. In addition to my work, the concert will feature works by Karyn Edison, Wayne Stewarte, Erica Drew, and Adrienne Hawkins .

My piece, Infinite???, was inspired by text messaging and two tracks off of a CD included in the July 2007 issue of the Believer Magazine. With only 15 hours of rehearsal, I began with improvisations to develop vocabulary that would be familiar to this group. Having been mesmerized by David Parker's 10th anniversary performance at Summer Stages Dance the Thursday before I started, I borrowed one of his favorite exercises. Just using the phrases that the girls created with it, we whipped the first section together in five days. Now I understand why David is so fond of this choreographic tool.

Even though these dancers are classically trained, they have been very willing to embrace my rather unorthodox teaching methods and the slapstick style of this piece. I am looking forward to seeing how it kicks off the concert.


NEA Grantee of the Day - Jacob's Pillow

(Part of an ongoing series that demonstrates how some of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Direct Grantees have influenced Monkeyhouse's growth.)

by Karen Krolak

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival/Becket, MA/$50,000 -

Merciful heavens, there are just too many reasons to love Jacob's Pillow. In the seven hours that Jason and I were there on Saturday we:

*snuggled into the roots of a massive oak tree and listened to Rachel Maddow  and Suzanne Carbonneau ponder possibilites for integrating arts and public policy,

*poured over video footage of Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham,

*shared stories with JR Glover and Thasia Giles  on  Anne Bluethenthal's 25th anniversary season performance of Pluto in Capricorn

*bumped into d. Sabela Grimes and Raphael Xavier in the archives,

*spotted Doug Varone in the Pillow Pub (his company will be performing there this coming weekend),

*chatted with Rennie Harris (who sat two seats away from us in the Ted Shawn Theater), 

*and were once again enthralled by Rennie Harris PureMovement's performance.



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