Cultivate Memories (part 2)

by karen Krolak
These images were all taken from the same section of Selene Colburn and Paul Benney's  Bethlehem Walking Tour at Cultivate 2011. As we braved our way through the field, all three seemed to evoke the same sensation of finding a path and yet they seem to tell very different stories.  I enjoyed how even the woman's tattoo resembled a mysterious map.


Monkeyhouse Master Class @MDF

by karen Krolak

Amherst will be brimming over with opportunities to explore a wide spectrum of dance this weekend when the Massachusetts Dance Festival arrives at UMASS. You can sample everything from Classical Indian to Jazz Fusion during the day and then catch an equally diverse concert that evening.

Come join me for a partnering class designed to cover the basics of weight sharing at 12:15 PM. Then, after lunch and a rousing round table discussion, you can check out Ryan Casey, Monkeyhouse's new Blogger-in-Residence, as he gets people tapping.  All workshops will be at the UMass Amherst Totman Building. For more info, scoot over to the festival website.


Cultivate Memories (part 1)

 by karen Krolak

For several years now, I have been curious about how we remember choreography, the systems people use to record or capture movements. Is it more important to document the exact shape of the steps or should we focus in on the emotional energy of the experience? What can pictures tell us that words would fail to illuminate and vice verse? Do we understand something better with multiple viewings or do we simply start to over analyze it?

As Selene Colburn and Paul Benney guided us along a Bethlehem Walking Tour at Cultivate 2011, these questions began to skirt around the edges of my attention. Although I normally would not think to take pictures during a performance,  Arthur Fink's camera emboldened me and that diorama by the fountain begged to be photographed. Over the next few days, I will share some of moments/textures/movements that caught my interest on this walk. At the same time, I would love to hear other people's thoughts on recording choreography. Please feel free to share any comments, suggestions or questions of your own.


Jillian Grunnah on Mentoring

As August winds down, local choreographers who had flocked to summer workshops, residencies, and performances in cooler climates begin to migrate back to Boston. For example, Jillian Grunnah recently returned from in Italy and is already preparing for the launch of her newest creation, SpunkandCOmpany. Her company is composed of six dancer/choreographers who lend, not only their technical skill, but also their creative input and energy to every dance. 

Since Jillian participated in the winter Emerging Artists Program at Green Street Studios, I decided to pick up the thread of our series on mentoring with her. I asked her to ruminate on her experience as a mentee and to riff off of  Kendra Heithoff 's request for more in-depth mentoring relationships.   

By Jillian Grunnah

The most valuable part of the GSS Emerging Artist Concert was the factor of accountability to yourself as an artist and to the work you are creating. Having a mentor keeps you focused and constantly pushes you to think outside of your own creativity and values. Knowing that someone is there to see your work through to the next place keeps the wheels turning. I was not allowed to become complacent or satisfied too quickly with my work. I think having that outside set of caring and knowing eyes allows a choreographer to feel supported yet challenged.

I think that it was difficult having two mentors. Although I appreciated the diversity of opinion, I think that it would be more beneficial to have a longer, closer process with one person. Maybe instead of a two-month process, it becomes half a year or even an entire year. My only fear is being solely influenced by that mentor, but I would hope to have someone who has similar aesthetic and conceptual values as I do, or at least is open to approaching different types of work and to really becoming invested in the development of my work. I felt like I experienced something like this in graduate school at Smith College in western Mass; although even there, it felt sometimes scattered and not as focused as I'd hoped. The mentor/mentee relationship is difficult in an artistic process because while it is important to be pushed, held accountable, and given new perspectives from which to work, the creative process for me has always been very individual and isolated. I guess that I sometimes fear that I will attempt to please the mentor instead of working from an authentic place.

Mark your calendars:

Friday / Saturday
September 16 & 17, 2011
8:00 pm

choreography by
audra carabetta
jillian grunnah
eileen kielty
miriam lundgren
tara mccrystal

Julie Ince Thompson Theatre at the
Dance Complex
536 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 

Tickets / $10 / can be reserved by email: 
spunkandcodancecollective@gmail.com, or by calling 312.315.4181


Summerfest @ Springstep

As you know Monkeyhouse loves being an organization in residence at Springstep. If you haven't had a chance to check out this amazing center for dance and music, hustle over here on Sunday for an inexpensive day of sampling classes. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011
1:00 - 5:00pm
Suggested donation: $5 (for entire event!)
Kids Free
Rain or shine!

Get moving at Summerfest on August 21st! Sample from over 15 different dance and fitness classes for adults and youth, watch art demonstrations, take advantage of deals on fall classes and memberships, let your kids loose in the Craft Corner, see the debut of Springstep's flashmob, and more! Click here to view the full schedule of events!
Royal Scottish Country Dancing (Live Music!)
Sing-A-Lingo Spanish Through Music (Ages 18 mos - 5 years) 

Modern, Jazz, Blues (Lecture/Demonstration)
Creative Dance for Kids
Country Western Line Dancing
Argentine Tango

Hoop Dancing
Dance Floor Fundamentals
Music Together Sing-along (Ages 0-5 and caregiver) 
Country Western Line Dancing

Music Together Sing-along (Ages 0-5 and caregiver)


And don't forget, Fall classes begin on Tuesday, September 6!
See full schedule of fall classes.
98 George P Hassett Drive
Medford, MA


More Images from Impulse Dance Camp

 by karen Krolak

Although these pictures are all of pieces created by the other teachers at last week's Dance Camp at Impulse Dance Center in Natick, I love how they capture the spirit of the movement. I hope everyone finds a way to weave some live art into your weekend. Jason and I will be hopping over to Charlestown tonight to see Orfeo Group's Love Song (directed by Risher Reddick whom you might remember led a rocking Fight Choreography workshop as part of Against the Odds) and then scurrying up to Cultivate tomorrow.


Images from Impulse Dance Camp

 by karen Krolak

Dance improvisation can totally intimidate kids initially. Last week, however, I met a group of students who immediately embraced the awkwardness and unpredictability of these exercises. I was teaching at Impulse Dance Center's Dance Camp and I was thoroughly impressed by the way these dancers ignited their own imaginations.

After one improvisation with folding chairs, I asked the girls to describe their experience. One girl began, "My chair started as my purse but then it became my home." Another chimed in, "Mine was a pair of wings and then a gun." By harnessing their creativity, we quickly whipped together a quirky little piece called Angels with Metal Wings in less than two hours. It was filled with phrases generated by the performers woven together with small bits of my own choreography.

I was so proud of the both the process and the end product that I thought I would share some images here. I wish these photos could communicate their earnest efforts to teach each other the sections they created or their effervescent attitudes. Knowing how easy it is for tweens to fall prey to petty competitiveness, I was thrilled by their concern for everyone in the group.

Huge thanks to everyone who showed up to encourage these lovely young women.


Kick*ss class @ Cultivate

by karen Krolak

Although I won't be at Cultivate 2011 in time for this workshop, who can resist a class called  “Seriously Awkward” Contact Improvisation? While all the titles are tempting, this description begged to be shared and opens up some interesting questions about how and why we dance. Hope to see some of you up in Littleton, NH.

Rebecca Bryant: 
“Seriously Awkward” Contact Improvisation
In this workshop, we will use seriousness and awkwardness to our artistic advantage:  We will take contact improvisation seriously by setting aside the sometimes recreational emphasis of contact in favor of technical, compositional, philosophical, and performative discourse, thereby framing contact first and foremost as a highly evolved art form.
Unlike many contact workshops that focus on increasing each dancer’s comfort level, we will cultivate the awkward.  The often unacknowledged stylistic emphasis on smooth, flowing contact dancing will be replaced by illogical, stilted, quirky, and surprising movement.  We will find a fuller palette of expression and artistry by diversifying our physical choices as well as our notions of what contact improvisation encompasses.
We will draw from structures created and utilized by the Lower Left Performance Collective, including: The Fussy Dance, The Four Winds, and Event Dancing.  As an integral part of this workshop, we will watch each other to observe the results of exploration and to incite and inform our own dancing.
class:    “Seriously Awkward” Contact Improvisation
time:    Friday 10am-12pm
place: Great Hall, WMS
cost:    $25 (or, included in any Fest Pass)
for:       Movers with some previous contact experience, especially those interested in performing
more:    visit Cultivate on Eventbrite to reserve your spot!

Pssst...did you notice that one of the photos in the Cultivate poster is from Dance in the Fells? That is because Sarah Smith, who we interviewed about the BDA Open Call last fall will be performing at Cultivate. Anyone else have It's A Small World echoing in their brain now?

Still time to Cultivate

by karen Krolak

Never fear, there is still time to register for Cultivate 2011. Seriously, hop in a car, catch a bus, or for the love of Gorgonzola, somersault if you must.

Come on, glance over the roster of participating artists this year:

Analia Alegre-Femenias (Iowa/ Puerto Rico)
Katherine Keifer Stark (Philadelphia, PA)
Selene Colburn (Burlington, VT)
Paul Benney (Burlington, VT)
Pamela Vail (Lancaster, PA)
Katherine Ferrier (Littleton, NH)
Vicki Brown (Tucson, AZ)
Amy Barr (Iowa City, IA)
Kathy Couch (Northampton, MA)
Rebecca Bryant (West Lafayette, IN)
Don Nichols (West Lafayette, IN)
Olase Freeman (Providence, RI)
Kathryn McNamara (Providence, RI)
Sara Smith (Amherst, MA)
Sarah Baumert (Boston, MA)
Kitty Clark (West Virginia)
Amanda Hamp (Decorah, IA)
Tori Lawrence (Philadelphia, PA)
Emily Anderson (North Conway, NH)
Arthur Fink (Portland, ME)

and try to convince me that you are not salivating. Whether you are drawn to workshops, performances, or walking tours, I am certain that it will be well worth the hike to New Hampshire. When you are finished drooling, you can gather more details on this fabulous, fledgling dance festival on Cultivate's ever articulate website. You better hustle, though, events start in less than 48 hours.

Friday, August 19

9-10           REGISTRATION
10-12         “Seriously Awkward” Contact Improvisation Rebecca Bryant (GH)
12-2           lunch + artist mingle WMS
2-4            Dance in the Classroom  Paul Benney (CE) / No-Fuss Ballet Pamela Vail (GH) / Seeing Dance Like a Photographer  Arthur Fink (T)
4-6            Initiation and Follow-Through Katherine Kiefer Stark (GH)
6-7            dinner at WMS
7:30          Performance in Theater
9:30          Artist/Audience Linger + Mingle at Cold Mountain Cafe (DT)

Saturday, August 20

8-9            breakfast at WMS
9-11           Mindful Moving Kitty Clark (GH)  / The Solo Self Amy Barr (T)
11-2           lunch+ mingle+ visit to Farmer’s Market (DT) | Bethlehem Walking Tour Selene Colburn, Paul Benney (DT)
2-4            Open Source Forms  Amanda Hamp (GH) / Kid’s Class! Leap, Tumble, and Roll Paul Benney(CE)
4-6            Latin-Modern Fusion Analia Alegre-Femenias (GH)
6-7            dinner at WMS
7:30          Performance in Theater
9:30          Artist/Audience Linger + Mingle at Terra (DT)

Sunday, August 21

8:30-10    brunch at WMS
10-12        Embodied Democracy Katherine Ferrier (GH)
12              closing ritual and final linger+mingle (TBA)

Locations of Cultivate Events
GH           Great Hall at WMS
              White Mountain School Black Box Theater
CE            Creative Edge Dance Studio
DT            Downtown Bethlehem


BDA's Open Call Audition

by karen Krolak

Thanks Sarah Friswell for rustling up advice on auditions with your triptych interview with Hector Flores, especially since Boston Dance Alliance's Open Call Auditions are sneaking up soon. The Open Call is a magnificent way to get an overview of the Boston Dance Community and to network with other dancers, companies, and choreographers. Last year 90 dancers and 29 choreographers participated.

If you have never attended before, be sure to check out the Dance FAQ's section on their website. You might also want to peruse this interview with Courtney Wagner about her experience at the 2009 Open Call. Her relaxed attitude attracted my attention that day and consequently landed her a gig with Monkeyhouse.

When: Sunday, September 18
11am – 5pm
Doors open at 10 am for registration and warm up

11AM - Ballet  Dean Vollick
12:30 PM - Modern Yo-el Cassell
2PM Improvisation Liz Roncka
3PM Jazz TBA
4PM Hip-Hop Carl Alleyne
Where: Brookline High School Performing Arts Building
115 Greenough St
[Entrance on Tappan Street]
T accessible – Green D Line Brookline Hills Stop
[high school on left]
Parking available
For map, please CLICK HERE
*Choreographers must be Boston Dance Alliance members to attend.
For more information e-mail BDA: info@bostondancealliance.org


Broadway Auditions: A Real Life Story - Part III

by Sarah Friswell

Here's Hector Flores one last time, finishing up his stories from his New York City auditions.

SF: Even though you do this all the time now, do you still get nervous when you audition?

HF: I don't usually get nervous. The people you audition for are on your side. They want you to be the best so they can stop searching. I only get nervous when I have to audition for someone who is really important and/or recognized in the business. For example, when I was auditioning for In The Heights, I had to dance directly in front of Andy Blankenbuehler. You just have to use those nerves and turn them into positive energy.

SF: Did you ever feel like giving up? 

HF: Did I ever feel like giving up? So many times! This business is hard and most certainly not for the faint of heart. You are going to constantly hear "No", "You're not what we're looking for", or "You're just not good enough". It gets to you sometimes, but this is my dream. Every time I feel like I want to give up, I go out and see a show. It can be on Broadway, Off Broadway or anything really, and it fully recharges my batteries and reminds me of why I am a performer.

SF: Since we've been talking about mentors recently, would you say you have someone specific you've looked up to during this process?

HF: I don’t have a specific mentor. I think you learn from everyone. Michael Staczar (theater professor at the University of Tampa) taught me about keeping it together. My agent taught me to not worry about things, and other actors have taught me a lot too. I’ve met people on Broadway like Dan Domenech, the lead in Rock of Ages on Broadway currently, and he said don’t put a time limit on your goals and don't give up.  I’ve heard that bit of advice from several people. You just need to surround yourself with positive people. You can’t let other people’s jaded attitudes deter you from following your dreams. You can be a nobody one week, and then, six weeks later, be on Broadway and be a star that everyone is talking about. You have to be willing to fight for this, and it can be worth it. If you want to see the struggle, watch the movie Every Little Step - it details everything about the audition process.

SF: So what are you focusing on now as your career goals? Acting, singing, dancing?

HF: All three, sort of. I'm focusing on acting first but I’m a musical theater actor, and you can’t do a musical if you can’t dance. You need to have rhythm because you will be moving to music.  Anything that is underscored is considered choreography and is the responsibility of the choreographer. I just worked as the dance captain in my production of Altar Boyz and I eventually want to get into directing and choreographing. I have done a little bit of children’s choreography with the Charlotte Players in Florida and it was a great experience. I've had a great time working with choreographer Tammy Colucci for Altar Boyz. She's a great resource and has her own company called Dance Jamz, based out of NYC.

Thanks Hector for a great interview, and we'll look forward to hearing more about your blossoming career in the future!


Broadway Auditions: A Real Life Story - Part II

by Sarah Friswell

Here's more from Hector about his experience auditioning in New York City for the past year!

SF: What was it like the first time you auditioned in NYC?

HF: Oh my goodness, my first few auditions in NYC were awful! I was nervous and I didn't know the standard procedures. My first audition was for a production of RENT. I got there bright and early and waited all day, but because I was so far down on the Non-Equity list, I didn't even get to audition! I was irate, but it was a learning experience I had to have.

SF: What was a really memorable audition for you along the way? 

HF: Picking my most memorable audition is hard. I would have to say the invited dance call for In The Heights
When I saw In The Heights on Broadway, I fell in love.  That show has about three or four rounds of dance calls and then there are more rounds of vocal auditions.  Unfortunately for me, I was cut in the third round, which was a vocal round. But they worked us out in the two dance rounds prior! The combination was taught at a very fast pace and the choreography of the show is very specific. I was so invested in booking the show and when I wasn't called back for another round, I nearly cried. Two days later I happened to bump into one of the instructors from the audition and she told me to stick with it and keep auditioning. She said it took her three years of auditioning for In The Heights before she booked it and that really motivated me to keep trying.

SF: What is your best advice for someone trying to do what you're doing? 

HF: The best advice I could give someone is to not get discouraged and stay in classes. You can never have too much technique. If you don't use it you loose it, so stay in dance class to keep your skills sharp!

SF: What have you learned through the audition process?

HF: The audition process has taught me that you can’t expect to just make it in this business. A lot of the times you’ll go and audition for the same casting director multiple times before they even know who you are and realize that you may have something to offer. So it takes a long time to get recognized. I also learned that you can’t be desperate for the job. If you’re desperate, you put too much weight into it and it makes you too nervous and you’ll never perform up to your potential. It has to not matter to you if you get it or not, because then you’ll be yourself and you'll be a more natural actor.

Look for one more post about Hector's stories coming soon!


Broadway Auditions: A Real Life Story - Part I

by Sarah Friswell

I have known Hector Flores for about five years now, since both of us participated in the dance program at the University of Tampa. Hector has always been a very hard worker, and upon graduating, packed up and moved to New York to pursue his dreams! He came out to Dedham for a play reading of Spring Fling with the Fiddlehead Theater Company recently, so I thought it would be fun to talk to Hector about what he's done in the past year to get himself into "the biz".

Photo Credit Rob Sutton

SF: Hector, since this is your first interview with Monkeyhouse, can you tell us a little more about your background in the field of performing and dance?

HF: I have been singing and dancing since age nine and I did my first full scale musical as a sophomore in high school. We did Damn Yankees. I had never seen or heard about musicals until I saw RENT when I was nine. I got hooked on dancing, started performing in high school, and then decided it was what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I had a knack for dancing because I picked that up the fastest. I studied performing arts in college at The University of Tampa.  While in Tampa, I danced with a Burlesque company and after graduation I moved to NY to work as a performer. Within a year I've done a general management internship, signed with an agent, performed in a theatre festival and been in a show called Altar Boyz (Juan and dance captain) at the Cultural Arts Playhouse.

SF: Since you're so new to this business about how often would you say you audition for various shows?

HF: I'd say it averages out to about four to five times per week, although some weeks it can be upwards of eight or none at all.

SF: Where do you find the auditions you go to?

HF: There are a few ways to find auditions. Backstage Magazine is very popular, but I often use Playbill.com because its free. I also have an ActorsAccess account which is also free and you can create one easily on actorsacess.com. I'm signed to Avalon Artists Group, which is a full service talent agency, and my agent sends me out to auditions as well. You will find there is no "right" way to do things in show business. There are a lot of avenues you can take and you just have to find the one that works for you.

Find out more from Hector about what his first NYC audition was like, and other stories, in the next post!


Related Posts with Thumbnails