Whos, Whats & Hows -- First Night

First Night Online Program
At the end of many previous performances there have been hundreds of programs left littering the theater. So, as part of our ongoing efforts to improve our environmental impact and to focus our financial resources on programming, we are posting out program online.

To enter the Monkeyhouse at First Night RAFFLE email us at MonkeyhouseLovesMe@gmail.com and put Raffle J in the subject line!

Odds Again
A prelude to Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival  
at Springstep in Medford, MA on March 18th & 25th and April 8th & 15th

Presented by Monkeyhouse
at First Night 2011
at the Hynes Convention Center
December 31, 2010

Lighting Design by Jason Ries
Costume Design by Karen Krolak

Swinkers (premiere)
Choreographed by Karen Krolak in collaboration with Nicole Harris, Nikki Sao Pedro, Caitlin Meehan and Courtney Wagner
Music by Twink
Special Thanks to Sarah Feinberg 

Odds (premiered at Massachusetts Dance Festival, 2010)
Choreographed by Karen Krolak in collaboration with Caitlin Meehan, Nikki Sao Pedro and Nicole Harris
Sound by Rudy Trubitt and Aaron Ximm
Text Written by Karen Krolak
Voice Over by Marty Allen
Special Thanks to Sarah Feinberg, Julia Marx, Rowan Salem and Sarah Friswell

4-Eva: L’appel du vide (premiere)
Choreographed by Karen Krolak in collaboration with Eva Dean
Performed by Eva Dean
Music by David Wechsler
Special Thanks to Eva Dean and the USD Lab Artist in Residence Program

Firk 1.4 (premiere)
Choreographed by Karen Krolak in collaboration with Courtney Wagner, Nicole Harris and Anne Howarth
Music by Anne Howarth

Fidelius (premiered at Art Beat, 2010)
Choreographed by Nicole Harris
Performed by Nikki Sao Pedro and Caitlin Meehan
Music by David Wechsler
Costumes by Nicole Harris
Special Thanks to Ashley Chandler, Shane Rutkowski and David Wechsler (check out his new album here for FREE!)

Dream of the Rhinoceros (premiered at Bent Wit Cabaret, 2010)
Created by Rhino Preserves
Music Composed by Trygve Madsen

Ramfeezled(er) (premiere) (sort of)

Choreographed by Amelia O'Dowd and Karen Krolak
Performed by Nikki Sao Pedro, Courtney Wagner, Caitlin Meehan and Nicole Harris
Music by Ed in the Refrigerators
Voice Over by Karen Krolak
Text adapted from a very real, very frightening book on dating.
Sound Design by James Bernardinelli

Thank Yous

Monkeyhouse truly treasures our funders and we plan to dedicate a page on our website to all of the people who keep this organization thriving.  Since we value relationships so highly, however, we will list people according to the number of years that they have supported us instea of by the size of contributions.  Knowing that so many volunteers give enormous amounts of priceless time, we will also include them on this page.
Please make sure to let us know whether and how you would like to be recognized.
In the meantime, we would like to thank:

First Night
College Planners LLC
Impulse Dance Center
Arlington Center for the Arts
Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston
Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center
Exit Theater
Marquette Associates
Uncle Monsterface
David Wechsler
Jacob's Pillow Choreographers' Lab
Actors' Shakespeare Project
Pat and Rita Krolak
Richard Miner and Corinne Nagy
Tim Losch and Brandi Brooks
 Tom and Viz Ries
Danalynne Wheeler
Cathy & Joe Lynn
John Aceto & Natalie Pino
Austin & Sarah de Besche
Gillian Brecker
Robyn Keske & Fay Robinson
Steve Wightman and Peggy Wacks
Freya Bernstein and Dr. Martin Broff
Joan and Robert Parker
Susan and Gib Hammond
Nicky Felix
David Parker
Dot and Tom Christian
Joan and Roger Panek
LuAnn and Jim Pagella
Kathryn Stieber
Dr. and Mrs. Owen Bernstein
Jon Schaffrath
Drs. Carlos Estrada and Bita Tabesh
Paul Feiss and Margaret McKenna
Pat and Lizzie Krolak
Michael and Carly Krolak
Dr. Michael Shannon
Dave Pavkovic and Becca Rossen
Christina Augello
Pam and Steve Harris
Marjorie Freeman
Michael Cotter
Melissa Dollman
Gillian Brecker and Seth Mason
Donna and James Rosenberg
Mike and Judy Panaro
Penny Penniston and Jeremy Wechsler
Tom and Dot Christian
Karen and Mark Slutsky
Amelia O'Dowd and Brian Eastman
Beth McGuire and Nathaniel Panek
Lori Taylor
Adele Traub
Marty Allen
Eric Phelps
Margaret Hagemeister
Anne Howarth and Rick Frank
Martha Christensen and Neal Smyth
Michael Wissner
Julia Blatt
Suzanne Jenkins
Joanne Dougan
Mark Zuroff
Zach Galvin
Shelley Neill
John Aceto and Natalie Pino
Mara Blumenfeld
Irene Gaetani
Gaby Mervis
Sarah Friswell
Sarah Feinberg
Ashley Chandler
Janine Harrington
Leah Sakala
Michael Maggio
Lynn Schwab
Gail & Rick Fine
Niles Welch
Denise & Carlos Sao Pedro
Endicott College
Kristin Bezio
Rachel Strutt
Gregory Jenkins
Brent Sullivan
 Tori Woodhouse
Bari Rosenberg
...and of course,
Lynne Anne Blom
Timothy O’Slynne

Please feel free to email us at MonkeyhouseLovesME@gmail.com with any questions or comments, if you don't want to post them here.

Monkeyhouse @ First Night Fun Fact of the Day

by Nicole Harris

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Courtney Wagner versus the gray and black striped pants.

Courtney began performing with Monkeyhouse at Boomtown this summer at CMAC.  After being yelled at by some inmates while wearing a teacup on her head without even blinking she was immediately welcomed into the companay as though she was meant to be here.  Since that show she has performed with us at Dance at the Fells, Movement at the Mills and now First Night.  Whether she was wearing a silver space helmet and delivering post-it notes or collecting glass with a pair of tweezers there has always been one thing in common for every one of Courtney's performances.  The gray and black striped pants.  Courtney has yet to do a performance with Monkeyhouse without them.  Don't you worry, she's looking adorable in them for First Night too!

Maybe some day we'll give her something else to wear on the bottom half of her body....

Green Street Emerging Artists Program

by Nicole Harris

 Last night was the first showing for the Green Street Studios Emerging Artists Program in which a small number of choreographers are selected to work with two mentors to create new works and produce a concert.  I am very excited to announce that this winter I will be one of four choreographers participating in the program along with Jennifer Hardy, Angie Hartley and Jillian Grunnah.  We will be working with mentors Rozann Kraus from the Dance Complex and Monkeyhouse's own Karen Krolak over the next two months while get ready for our concert on February 11th & 12th!  I really enjoyed watching everyone's work and think this is going to be a concert filled with personality and beautiful dancing!  I am thrilled to be a part of it! 

Jillian Grunnah
Nicole Harris

Angie Hartley
Jennifer Hardy

Come visit us at http://gssemergingartists.blogspot.com/ (Don't worry, we'll update you here at the Monkeyhouse blog too!) for updates on the show, information on the process of building pieces and more exciting tidbits!


Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Hot dog! Eva Dean is a freaking dream dancer. For starters, look at those articulate toes. Her company is celebrating its Silver Anniversary and yet she has been incredibly willing to carve out time to develop 4-Eva: L'appel du vide, her solo for First Night.

Having never tried to set work on a more experienced choreographer before, I confess that I was a bit intimidated as I started this piece in November. She kept reminding me though, that she is "not precious about anything." Our rehearsals have resounded with laughter and the piece evolved much more rapidly that either of us had expected. Can't wait to hear what people think about it when it premieres tomorrow night.

Have you gotten your First Night button yet?


Monkeyhouse @ First Night Fun Fact of the Day

by Nicole Harris

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

To those of you who have never been to a Monkeyhouse rehearsal it might come as a surprise to know that we sometimes lose focus.  (To anyone who has ever spent any time with any one of us this comes as no surprise at all...)

This stool, which made its debut at Art Beat and is just one of many chairs gracing the Monkeyhouse stage in the next few months, provides hours of upended entertainment during quiet moments of rehearsal.

At the start of rehearsal today Karen was standing in for Courtney.  In an obvious next step, Karen's socks were standing in for Karen.  They were working very hard.  Hard enough that a camera was brought out to document the occasion.

Anne and her french horn did their best to keep us in check, both when we got a little off track and during the new Firk we were rehearsing.  I am so glad she (and her horn) are making it a habit of appearing in Monkeyhouse shows these days!

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Psst...did you know that you can check out one of Monkeyhouse's pieces for First Night 2011 on Facebook? Our friend, David Wechsler, of the Tyranny of Dave (who also makes a mean chocolate chip cookie), posted it for us. We will be using another song, Call of the Waters, for Eva Dean's solo.We would chat more but we must skedaddle off to rehearsal.


Monkeyhouse’s Major Events & Milestones from 2010 (part 1)

Monkeyhouse was truly honored to be included in Karen Campbell's Boston Globe article about milestones in the Boston Dance Community. While emailing her for the story, we realized how amazing 2010 has been for this organization and we could not have accomplished this without YOU. Thanks for reading, encouraging, and fueling our growth. We hope you enjoy waltzing down memory lane and savoring the last 52 weeks with us.

Anti-ossification at Cool New York
Monkeyhouse’s Major Events & Milestones from 2010

  * Monkeyhouse finishes Anti-ossification, a duet choreographed by Karen Krolak and Nicole Harris, to premiere at the Cool New York Dance Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Both shows were performed to full houses.

  *Karen Krolak is nominated for an IRNE for her choreography on Actors' Shakespeare Project’s Coriolanus.

  * Monkeyhouse’s blog Connect 2 Choreography named one of the 50 Best Blogs for Dance Students.

  * Monkeyhouse is awarded Best Dance Company in Boston 2010 by the Boston Phoenix Readers’ Poll.

  * Monkeyhouse launches C2C: Connect to Choreography a new monthly television show produced with SCATV in Somerville.

  * Karen Krolak and Nicole Harris return to the Groton School for another week long residency working with theater students.

   *Monkeyhouse initiates a series of Sporks, focus groups that tackle organizational topics, to generate new ideas from long time supporters.


  * Karen Krolak is invited to be USD Lab Artist at Union Street Dance in Brooklyn, NY. As part of this program, Karen led a series of Musings, workshops that Monkeyhouse uses to sketch out choreographic ideas. This is the first time Musings are opened to the general public.

  * Jon Schaffrath and Nicole Harris join the Monkeyhouse Board of Directors.


Movers & Shakers, Anne Howarth and Kristin Bezio, on Moving Day.
  * Nicole Harris galvanizes Monkeyhouse’s Movers and Shakers to prepare the organization for our move from the Arlington Center for the Arts.

  * Karen Krolak begins meeting with Karen Comeau, a teacher at the Healy School in Somerville and a fellow "Diplomatic Delegate" on the 2009 Somerville Sister City trip to Tiznit, Morocco. They develop a program that will use choreographic exercises to help students understand elements of grammar and improve reading comprehension.  They plan to partner with a school in Morocco in the future.

to be continued...


Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Ramfeezled has been one of Monkeyhouse's most popular pieces ever since Amelia O' Dowd premiered it in 2002. When Amelia moved to Dayton, OH, we knew it would be a challenge to find someone to fill her fishnets. 

Thank goodness for Nikki Sao Pedro. She is Monkeyhouse's reigning queen of repertory resurrection. You may remember that we set Ululation/Mourning After, aka the Nail Shirt piece, on her for Cambridge Connections: Urban Dance at Endicott. For First Night 2011, she is adding a little whiff of Revere to Ramfeezled (Redux) and the results are a rip-snorting good time. 

Seriously, folks get your buttons because you do not want to miss this.


Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Anne Howarth is a wonderful example of why we love chatting with audience members after our shows. Our Production Manager, Jason Ries, first met her at a reception after Monkeyhouse's production, Ahem, Aha! Hmmm... in 2004 at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center. Anne has guided us to local classical music hot spots and has been an incredible Mover & Shaker. This year, for example, she helped us move the office, checked people in at Your Just Desserts, and offered advice at Sporks. Everyone needs a French Horn player like this in their life.

Monkeyhouse Returns to Cool New York Dance Festival

Hooray! Monkeyhouse will head back to the Cool New York Dance Festival in Brooklyn in January 2011. Mark your calendars as we will be a part of three different programs at the festival. We will be performing in:

A Day for the Family (Sat. 1/29 2pm) with Amanda Hinchey & Dancers, Theodora Boguszewski, Satu Hummasti Dance, WHITE WAVE Kid’s Can Dance, York Dance Works

Program B (Thurs. 1/27 9pm & Sun. 1/30 4pm) with Tipsy Point Project, Lindy Schmedt Dance Collaborative, Angelo Dance Project, Liz Piccoli, I-Fen Lin, Cori Marquis, Next Reflex Dance Collective

& Program D    (Fri. 1/28 9pm & Sun. 1/30 6pm) with Jennifer Phillips, ALENKA CIZMESIJA/ART DECONSTRUCTED, Jessica DiMauro/DiMauro Dance, Barbara Mahler Makes Dances, Jessica Danser/dansfolk, Spark Movement Collective

Look out for more details about these shows soon!


Monkeyhouse @ First Night Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Hoot, hoot! Anne Howarth will add a French Horn twist to the newest incarnation of Firk, Firk 1.4, for our performances at First Night. While Anne regularly plays with Radius Ensemble and Vento Chiaro, we have lured her into a more improvisational piece. Oh, and she will also bring back The Dream of the Rhinoceros for those of you who missed it at ArtBeat.


Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Kwaq7aj', Monkeyhouse's canine choreographer, often feels the need to assist Caitlin Meehan with her stretches. This artistic bond prompted Kwaq7aj' to develop some of the movement vocabulary for Caitlin in Firk 1.2, which premiered at Endicott College in October.


Creative Movement with Karen Krolak @ Springstep

by karen Krolak

My, my, my, we are just bursting with exciting new projects as we transition into 2011. For example, I will be teaching a Creative Dance class at Springstep on Saturday mornings from 10 - 10:45AM. It is open to kids between the ages of 4 -7 and will start on January 22nd. We are going to have a blast building movements from stories, playing games, and bouncing around to a fabulous assortment of music for kids.

Psst...and for all you adult dancers who are debating trying a class at Springstep, jump to it. Bloomspot  is offering a huge discount for first time Springstep participants - $50 for a 6 or 8 week class! (That's up to a $110 value.) You must snap up this offer by Wednesday, December 22nd.

Ok, my break at Impulse Dance Center is almost over and I need to grab some dinner before my Advanced Jazz class.

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day

Monkeyhouse @ First Night 2011 Fun Fact of the Day:

Although she will not be performing with us on December 31st, Monkeyhouse's canine choreographer, Kwaq7aj', has been rehearsing with us. We captured this photo of her during our warm up on Saturday.


Double Falsehood

by Nicole Harris

After a very eventful afternoon of trying to get myself ready for Christmas (I just bought six rolls of wrapping paper.  I've never owned this much wrapping paper in my life.) I am sitting down to a quick dinner before heading over to Harvard Square to see a staged reading of Double Falsehood that Jason Ries directed. 

It has come up in conversation a few times recently how similar choreography and directing can be and it made me realize that a number of us here at Monkeyhouse have taken an interest in directing recently.  (You might remember that Karen was the Assistant Director of Othello at Actors' Shakespeare Project in March.)  I am excited to see what Jason has put together!

Whether you're interested in Shakespeare (Double Falsehood has recently been added to the Shakespeare canon), a fan of Jason's, or just looking for somewhere to stay warm come join me at Fire & Ice in Harvard Square!

6:00 - 7:00pm Hors d'oeuvres & cash bar
7:00 - 8:15pm Reading of Double Falsehood
8:30 - 9:30pm Q&A with cast & mingling!


Monkeyhouse @ First Night for the 5th time!

by karen Krolak
Mercy me, this weekend is going to be jam packed with creative endeavours. Tomorrow, Monkeyhouse will be at Springstep re-setting Ramfeezled, one of our funniest and best loved pieces, for our fifth appearance at First Night Boston. Then Jason, kwaq7aj', and I will skedaddle down to New York to wish Ralph Farris (genius viola player and the composer for one section of our performance for Dance in the Fells) a fabulous 40th birthday. Sunday afternoon, I will scoot over to Union Street Dance in Brooklyn to start a piece featuring Eva Dean...also for First Night. Then Jason and I will get a sneak preview of Three Pianos, an OBIE winning music-theater event written, arranged and performed by Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy, and Dave Malloy. According to our invite, we should be prepared for "compositional mayhem, shifting rivalries, and some unfortunate butchery of the German language."

Oh yes, so here are the details about Monkeyhouse's First Night performances. Please note that we will be in the Hynes Convention Center this year. To celebrate their 10th Anniversary season, Monkeyhouse is mixing and mashing the old with the new and tossing in a guest artist or two. Humor flows through their slightly surreal dance theater world as they tackle topics from flirting, rhinoceros fantasies, and re-gaining the rhythm of a relationship. Be on the lookout for Anne Howarth on French Horn and New York City's Eva Dean in a sassy smorgasbord of pieces by Karen Krolak, Nicole Harris, and Amelia O'Dowd.

 Friday, Dec 31, 2010 at  8:15PM and 10:00 PM
First night button $18, children under 4 are free

Psst...and I just heard now that Twink has given us permission to use one of their songs for one of our premieres! Thank you Twink.


Catherine Musinsky's Unchastened

Unchastened from brynmore on Vimeo.

by karen Krolak

Returning home from a Thanksgiving trip to Dayton to catch up with Amelia, I found piles of emails waiting for me. I am so glad that I combed through them though, because, this marvelous film was tucked into one of the messages from the Dance Action Network. Catherine Musinsky's work has always impressed me and her mischievous eyes just draw you in to her movement but this film floored me. It is so brave and beautiful. Be warned, however, if you are squeamish about such things... it does feature a bare breast as it delves into her transformation after surviving breast cancer.


Getting to Know Derick Grant--Part 1

by Nicole Harris

Somewhere around 2004 I took students of mine from Impulse Dance Center to a Manhattan Dance Project workshop where I met tap teacher Derick K. Grant.  I was instantly enamored with his laid back yet individualized teaching style and when I found out he taught regularly in New York City I promised to begin showing up at places he was.  A few months later I walked into his class at Steps on Broadway in New York City while I was in town visiting my sister and knew just who I was.  "You're that girl from Boston.  You said you were going to being stalking me and here you are!"  Since then I have been lucky enough to study fairly extensively with Derick and I consider him to be one of the biggest influences on my tap dancing today.  Last year he and I sat down to talk about his career, his choreography and his view on life.

NH: What was the first thing you ever choreographed?
DG: Lord have mercy, the first thing?  Well, let’s say the first official thing was a solo. It was called “Drums.” I was a rookie in the Jazz Tap Ensemble and I was challenged to choreograph a piece. I got to work with Jerry Kalaf, who was the musical director. It was the first time where I worked with live music, and had to like come up with arrangement, and make a dance. That was pretty cool. I was probably about 19. 

NH:  What are your biggest challenges as a choreographer?
DG:  For me being entertaining. I found that most of the tap choreography was very green. My main problem was getting people to dance while they tap, ‘cause most choreography that is used in shows is used with the purpose of telling a story. And most choreography that is used in tap dance are musical compositions. So finding a balance where you can use the body as a narrative, as an actor, but then use the sounds coming from those same movements, as a musical composition, is hardcore. 

NH:  Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
I’m going to have to say Jerome Robbins or Bob Fosse.  I started to study ballets because I realized that ballets were bodies of work that represented choreographers, and those pieces would live long after the choreographers died. And that in terms of being a choreographer, that’s kind of like the point, that’s like the painter making the painting. You want to have a piece that can live beyond you. You know? So then I started checking out the ballets, seeing what they had in common, and then what made them different from each other in terms of style and storytelling. And I had some success, I mean it was a rocky road because I don’t know a ton about ballet, so I probably missed a lot of the subtleties; they all kind of looked the same to me after awhile. I mean I know what’s a pretty turn, what’s a pretty leap, but that’s about the extent of it.  With Fosse and Jerome, you can see it in the body, like that’s a tap dancer there.  It was easy for me to respond and to understand that.

Special Thanks to Melissa Dollman for her assistance in getting this interview transcribed.  We love you!


Lorraine Chapman on Margie Gillis

Margie Gillis
[When Lorraine emailed me this morning about Margie Gillis' upcoming events, it totally made my day. I can't remember the last time that an artist friend contacted me to rave about someone else's work. Shouldn't that happen all the time? At any rate, she eagerly agreed to let me re-publish her remarks here. Let's hope that this starts a new trend in the dance world. Feel free to contact me at monkeyhouse[at]gmail.com if you would like to write about one of your favorite choreographers. - karen]

by Lorraine Chapman

This Sunday is an singularly unique and uniquely singular opportunity to experience the one and only Margie Gillis live and in person right here in Cambridge, MA! I first saw Margie dance when I was a teenager in the 1980's somewhere in Canada and I am still haunted by her stunningly captivating performance. I still see and feel images and movement from that show 25 years ago as clearly as if it had been yesterday. I met Margie in 2004 when we were both doing a piece for the Alberta Ballet. I could not believe what she created with a ballet company where improvisation is as foreign to their repertoire as tapping a time step. The dancers were set completely free in a joyous celebration of movement and dance.

I began working with Margie as my mentor this August and I felt so alive in rehearsal, in my body. She allows you to feel such pure love and joy while dancing. Working with her allows me to remember why I first began dancing as a child. How often do we get back to that feeling? Well, now is your chance! She's coming! Here!

Even if: you've never improvised, you don't like to improvise, you don't think you're any good at improvisation, you think you're too experienced, you think you're too old...think again and convince yourself to come. You will not leave disappointed that you did.
If you humanly, physically cannot be there: please tell anyone and everyone in your life who dances and encourage them to attend both of these events. They will not leave disappointed that they did. I hope to see you all in three days.

Master Class & Informal Showing

with acclaimed international artist
Margie Gillis
Sunday, November 21st
Time: 1:00-3:00 Master Class 
5:00 Informal Showing
Price: Both events - $30 or $20 each
Special! BDA/GSS Members, Students, & Seniors: $12 Class & $15 Showing

Where: Green Street Studios
185 Green Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

PRE-REGISTRATION SUGGESTED: email info@greenstreetstudios.org or call 617-864-3191


C2C #5 - New Holiday Tradition with Betsi Graves Akerstein

by karen Krolak

Monkeyhouse's latest episode of C2C explores an alternative holiday production, The Story of Stuff, by Urbanity Dance. Betsi Graves Akerstein and I had a fabulous conversation about her newest creation and the Boston Dance Alliance's Rehearsal and Retreat Grant. Speaking of which, get hopping if you want to apply for the BDA Rehearsal and Retreat Grant as the applications must be postmarked by tomorrow, November 17!


Update on Anne Bluethenthal (San Francisco series part 2)

by karen Krolak

Chin-chin Hsu in Spine
Anne Bluethenthal and I shared a cabin during the Jacob's Pillow Choreography Lab in 2008 where we quickly began bouncing ideas off each other. While we share a common sense of theatricality, Anne's work seems to capture dancers at their most powerful and sensual moments. For example, her remake of Spine for Pluto in Capricorn (pictured at the right) featured a quartet of bare backs basked in warm set of spotlights. Even as these women contorted their torsos, Anne's choreography elevated their struggles. It was a physical poem about strength and supple vulnerability that inspired Caitlin Meehan's section in Monkeyhouse's quartet Odds. Spine was easily one of my favorite performances of 2009. If you are in the Bay Area on Sunday, I urge you to see her latest series of pieces, Traces of Grace and Other Dances.

Old First Concerts presents
ABD Productions

Traces of Grace and Other Dances
Anne Bluethenthal and Dancers
in concert with singer-songwriter Melanie DeMore

ABD Ensemble
Mayuko Ayabe, Crystaldawn Bell, Chin-chin Hsu, Mihyun Lee, Sarah Pomarico,
Frances Sedayao & Shaunna Vella
with music by Eric Glick Rieman and Sean Feit
Lighting by Allen Wilner

$17.00 General
$14.00 Seniors (65 and older)
$14.00 Full Time Students
$12.00 Groups of 10 or more
Tickets can be purchased online at

For more information visit: www.abdproductions.org


Interview with the Artists of ODD (San Francisco series part 1)

Amelia O'Dowd forwarded inkboat's latest newsletter to me because she thought I would be interested in their collaboration with AXIS Dance Company. As usual she was spot on, and, she didn't even realize that Monkeyhouse is plotting out a festival called Against the Odds for spring 2011.

I truly enjoyed this interview form the newsletter. So I contacted Shinichi Iova-Koga and he graciously allowed me to republish it here. Thank you Shinichi! I am so glad that Molly Barrons introduced me to his work many years ago and as always I am so thankful that Amelia keeps inspiring me.

Joan Jeanrenaud and Shinichi Iova-Koga


Interview with the Artists of ODD
Shinichi Iova-Koga & Joan Jeanrenaud



ODD - Directed by Shinichi Iova-Koga | Music by Joan Jeanrenaud 

For the first time ever, inkBoat will share the stage with AXIS Dance Company. The resulting world-premiere collaboration, ODD, is a series of dances choreographed by inkBoat Artistic Director Shinichi Iova-Koga, with musical accompaniment by famed cellist/composer Joan Jeanrenaud (formerly of the Kronos Quartet) and musician/vocalist Dohee Lee. ODD is inspired by the paintings of Odd Nerdrum.

Shinichi how and why did you think of Odd Nerdrum’s paintings when you thought about this collaboration?
SIK: Odd Nerdrum's paintings have been of interest to me since the mid-90's, but it wasn't until recently that I considered creating a dance work directly inspired by them. As we have examined these works more thoroughly, I have been struck by the relationship of landscape and body. There are similarities in shape, but more than that, I am reminded of Alan Watts speaking of humans having the conceit of being separate from nature. And how can that be? How can anything be separate from nature? Even our most polluting factories are part of nature. Our species imagines itself as above nature because we can go into outer space or divert water across large distances. But these are technologies and technologies are simply an extension of ourselves and we are an extension of nature. I believe it is this attitude that we are separate from the natural world that has given rise to polluting factories and dis-regard for our planet.

Joan, have Nerdrums paintings been influential to you in composing the music?
JJ: Nerdrum's paintings have become the essence for creating the music in, 'ODD'. In working with Shinichi his constant referral to the paintings has imbued their spirit into the dance and music, leading me to discovering sounds, feelings, gestures or motives that resonate with the images. As well, I am influenced by Shinichi and his aesthetics along with the work of the AXIS and inkBoat dancers and musician Dohee Lee, who is contributing her vocal, electronic and percussion skills to the score. I hope to create a sonic environment that the dancers will occupy and find inspirational. I want to create an overall sense of the strangeness, beauty and stillness that I sense from the paintings and Shinichi's choreography.

Joan and Shinichi, what are some of your discoveries during the creation process?
SIK: Early in our working process, I felt that paintings are paintings and dance is dance. We can be inspired by the paintings, but we cannot dance them. But, because the paintings themselves are still, we've been incorporating stillness more consciously into the choreography. And this is almost a traditional Japanese dance/theater idea. Noh and Kabuki in particular utilize many still moments as emphasis. The forms are precisely sculpted and freezes are employed constantly. I feel that the "avant-garde" ideas always come back to tradition somehow.
Working with Joan has been a complete joy. As part of our process, Joan has created music for the paintings without seeing the dance, or created music for dance without seeing paintings. Each time, she manages to come up with something distinct and imbued with it's own character. And we let all these characters meet... the painting, the music and the dancers meet to create something that is a birth, a child that comes from all these sources and stands as it's own.

JJ: Shinichi has led me to continually discover the significance of silence or of a small gesture in music the complexity of a single sound, sustained or brief. He has opened my ears by opening my eyes!

ODC Theater, SF
Fri-Sat, November 5-6 @ 8pm & Sun, November 7 @ 3pm
ODC Theater, Tickets: $18 available through odcdance.org,
(415) 863-9834
*Stay tuned for a meet and greet the artists gathering
following the Sunday, Nov 7th matinee
Malonga Casquelourd Center, Oakland
Fri, November 12 @ 8pm (Target Family Night Performance);
All tickets $10
Sat, November 13 @ 8pm and Sun, November 14 @ 2pm 
Tickets $22/Seniors, Students & Persons with Disabilities $15 /
Youth under 14 years $10 available through brownpapertickets.com,

Short Series on San Francisco

by karen Krolak

San Francisco July 2009
While Monkeyhouse is in the midst of whipping together two projects for this weekend: Movement at the Mills on Friday and the Cambridge Connections Urban Dance at Endicott Concert on Saturday, I keep receiving notes about drool worthy performances in San Francisco. Now in my moments of procrastination, I get lost in wafts of lavender and long for the West Coast. So, in an effort to transform that fantasy into something productive, I have decided to toss in a series of San Francisco event posts.

While you are waiting for the series to start, here are the details for our events in Boston again.

Movement at the Mills
Friday, November 5th 2010, 6:00-9:00pm
Performances at 6:00 & 7:30

Performances will occur on three stages scattered throughout the evening.
Audience members are invited to walk through the Gallery and observe various styles of dance as visual art. Free and Open to the Public

Featured Dance Companies include:
Marsha Parrilla y Danza Organica
Wanda Strukus

Mills Gallery
551 Tremont Street
Boston, MA

Please contact Andrea for more information at 617.456.1132 or ablesso@bcaonline. org

 Endicott College Performing Arts Department Presents
A Dance Performance featuring Boston-based companies
Monkeyhouse • Phunk Phenomenon • Urbanity Dance

Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 8:00pm
Rose Performance Hall
 $20/ Free to Endicott ID holders
For tickets visit www.endicott.edu/centerforthearts
For more information, contact Nicole Sao Pedro: 978 232-2395; nsaopedr@endicott.edu
Cambridge Connections
Endicott College 
376 Hale Street • Beverly MA 01915


Even More on Mariah Steele (part 3)

Photo Credit: Jim Coleman
by karen Krolak

In the final post of our three part interview with Mariah Steele, we delve into the intersection of anthropology and choreography.

kK: Ok, so when did you start choreographing?
MS: December of fifth grade.  My first dance was to Judy Collins' version of “Tis a Gift to be Simple.”  Every year, Steffi Nossen had a Holiday Party where parents watched the class and celebrated with the students afterwards.  Any student who wanted to was invited to choreograph a short dance and perform it at the party.  I did this every year.  I would move the furniture out of my room, shut the door and choreograph on my pink wall-to-wall carpet, with very limited space.  I scoured my parents' music collection, coming up with Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Indigo Girls, Mariam Makebo, and Maurice Ravel among others. Soon, one performance a year wasn't enough, and I would move the furniture quite frequently, make a dance, and then perform the piece for my parents in the living room or in middle school talent shows.  In high school, I had some wonderful academic teachers who periodically encouraged me to choreograph and perform dances instead of writing papers; for example, I made  pieces about the Crusades, Othello and environmental activism/the writings of Annie Dillard.  To this day, many of my dances have begun in the cramped space of my bedroom or living room – when the choreographing spirit calls, you have to follow it!

kK: Again, I am totally envious. I love that your teachers encouraged you to combine your academics with dance at such an early age. How do you feel your background in anthropology influences your choreography?
MS: That's a great question.  Anthropology was my actual major at Princeton (though for all intents and purposes I doubled majored in dance, except that they only offer a minor) and is at the very heart of how I see the world and how I approach a choreographic problem.  I am fascinated by different cultures and how people can be both so alike and so different.  Anthropology as a field is also interested in revealing the connections between aspects of life or culture that may not at first seem connected – it is a truly cross-disciplinary field, which is an intellectual experience and worldview that I love. Many of my dances have started with anthropological questions such as “What happens when two cultures meet?”  “What is the experience of female immigrants who come to America because of arranged marriages?” “What is the essence of humans' creative drive to build things that has produced the Egyptian pyramids, the great cathedrals and today's skyscrapers?” There is a wonderful overlap between dance and anthropology because they both deal often in metaphors, experience and feeling.  And at its heart, anthropology is all about people: what they think and dream and how they make meaning out of the world.  That is exactly what my dances try to explore and convey as well. 

kK: Can you give an example of how your anthropological studies were affected by your dance training?

MS:  Indeed, I studied traditional Kandyan dance in Sri Lanka for two months in order to write my anthropology thesis at Princeton. The experience of analyzing the cultural context in which a dance tradition is embedded gave me a whole new frame of reference for thinking about modern dance in our own society, too.  Besides which, learning a technique that is so different from any I had studied before was a first-rate physical challenge!

kK: So what brought you to Boston?
MS: My husband. He started a PhD program in plasma physics at MIT...so we will be here for awhile....but actually, I was born at Mt. Auburn hospital and lived in Lexington until I was 5 years old before moving to New York, so in some sense the move was “coming home.”  Only, I didn't realize until I got here how different the culture is from New York! And I must admit that now when people ask me where I am from, I say New York. 

kK: Well, I am just delighted that you have landed in Boston again and I am really looking forward to seeing more of your work.


Boston Performing and Visual Arts College Fair

On Wednesday, November 3rd, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) will present its annual Performing & Visual Arts College Fair in Boston. More than 120 of the nation’s premier arts institutions will be represented at this fair, which offers prospective students a first-hand opportunity to ask questions and pick up relevant information from schools of interest.  This is the only college fair of this size in New England that is specifically geared toward arts students, and it only takes place once a year.

This event will be valuable for high school or college students who are considering undergraduate or graduate studies in the arts. Teachers, guidance counselors, family and friends are welcome. Schools from New England and around the country offering programs in music, dance, theater, graphic and visual arts will be represented. For complete information including a list of attending schools and parking information, click here.

Please also feel free to connect with this event on Facebook!

Boston Performing & Visual Arts College Fair
Wednesday, November 3, 2010    
Boston Center for the Arts, Cyclorama
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
(Cyclorama: 617-426–5000)

Free and open to the public

More on Mariah Steele (part 2)

Photo Credit: Eli Akerstein
by karen Krolak

Things are a bit crazy this week as we prep for both the Movement and the Mills performance and Cambridge Connections Concert at Endicott College so I have decided to spread Mariah Steele's interview out over a few days. Today's section covers her early dance training...which reminds me that I was going to put up a post about the Boston Performing & Visual Arts College Fair. Ergg...let's see if I can sneak that in before I leave to vote.

karen Krolak: Can you tell me a little bit about your dance training?
Mariah Steele: Throughout my life, I have been blessed with incredible teachers who have been both at the top of the field and dedicated to the art of teaching. I had the unique good fortune to grow up in a dance school that focused on modern dance: the Steffi Nossen School of Dance in White Plains, NY. In elementary school, the program consisted of creative movement classes with lots of imagination.  In second grade, my mother put me into ballet classes instead, and I cried after every class; she put me right back into the Steffi Nossen program.  In fourth grade, I joined the “master class” track and began learning May O'Donnell technique; I would go on to study this technique with teacher Nancy Lushington every single Saturday until I graduated from high school, in addition to other modern classes during the week. I did not take ballet again consistently until 9th grade, when I joined the pre-professional Steffi Nossen Dance Company.  

kK: I am so impressed by the variety of pre-professional companies open to high school students now. How was the Steffi Nossen Dance Company structured?
MS: “Company,” as we called it, involved working with a different NYC choreographer every semester, in addition to at least three dance classes during the week.  Among other exciting choreographers, we had former Paul Taylor, Limon and Mark Morris dancers make pieces on us.  In this way, I was trained to be a truly versatile dancer and performer because each choreographer brought a different movement quality, technique and choreographic theory to his/her piece. 

kK: My word, that is a very unique program. I am quite jealous. College dance programs might even feel  a bit anti-climatic by comparison.
MS: Well, I then went on to train with Ze'eva Cohen and Rebecca Lazier at Princeton University, two of the most transformative teachers I have encountered in any discipline.  Ze'eva was instrumental in teaching me about breath and intention, and she helped me uncover my own unique choreographic voice. From Rebecca, I gained new insights into how thinking about imagery and anatomy can change how we move, making our movement more efficient and expansive.  Beyond dance, these lessons proved to me the power of our imaginations to create physical changes in our bodies and our worlds. 

Tomorrow we will conclude with a chat about how academics and dance can influence each other...


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