3/31/11

Somerville Tiznit Sister Cities 2011





by karen Krolak

Tiznit, Tiznit, Tiznit! I am thrilled to announce that I have been selected to participate in the Second Somerville Tiznit Sister Cities program. Just as Monkeyhouse is wrapping up Against the Odds, Stories of Adaptation, Translation, & Survival, I will be skedaddling off to Morocco again to meet up with some partners for Moving for Meaning. Then just after Easter, a delegation from Tiznit will arrive in Somerville. And, we thought things might get quiet after Against the Odds. Hee hee.

I realize that I left people hanging with the posts on Moving for Meaning but I will be sure to remedy that before too much longer. Goodness, Monkeyhouse has been bustling this year.

3/28/11

Dance Interactive Launches Today

You can view a snippet from Ted Shawn's Kinetic Molpai on Dance Interacative; photo courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Archives
by karen Krolak

As part of Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival,  we have discussed how challenging it can be to preserve choreography.  At our SPORKS, we have examined how dances get altered by how a performer ages or how a new dancer approaches a piece. In our newest pieces, Adumbrate (Part 1 & 2), Monkeyhouse delves into how students become living legacies. But as SPORK participants point out, that process can be quite similar to the children's game, telephone.  I keep hearing people repeat a variation of "So how can audience members gain a better sense of dance history without a time machine?"

Photo by Ruth David. Courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Until today, the only way to gain access to historical footage of most dance companies would be to travel to a few select libraries or dance festivals to view their archives. Thanks to Norton Owen and the innovative staff at Jacob's Pillow, however, you can now view a stunning array of footage from the last 80 years online. So I encourage you to skip over to Dance Interactive and poke around. As a Jacob's Pillow alum, I was able to meander through the site during its Beta testing and I can assure you that it is chock full of tasty morsels. For starters I highly recommend checking out Bill Irwin, Pearl Primus, and Erick Hawkins. This is an amazing resource for teachers, students, choreographers and audience members. Is it any wonder that Barack Obama recently bestowed a National Medal of Arts on Jacob's  Pillow?

(Psst...Don't worry if you aren't feeling ambitious enough to explore on your own. On April 8th and 15th, we will be projecting the website in the Springstep's atrium so you can view some of these artists as you prepare for Monkeyhouse's performance. )

3/25/11

SPIRIT - Another Springstep Festival

Monkeyhouse was intrigued and excited when we heard about Spirit: Native Music and Dance from Hawai'i and the Mainland. There are so many parallels to our moving smorgasbord, Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival. We would love to get a group together to go to the performance and/or the round table so please contact us if you would join us. And don't forget that you can win tickets if you enter the Against the Odds Drawing.

SPIRIT
Native Music and Dance from Hawai'i and the Mainland
A weekend of events featuring Hawaiian Hula ensemble Halau 'o Keikiali'i, Pascua Yaqui Tribe member Edwardo Madril, and Thawn Harris from Rhode Island's Narragansett tribe. 

Friday, April 1 Round Table Discussion
Saturday, April 2 - Performance
Saturday, April 2 - Gallery Exhibit Opening Reception
Sunday, April 3 - Workshops

HalauEnewsletterImage.jpg

Performance
Saturday, April 2, 2011
7:00pm
$20 in advance ($25 at the door)
Purchase Tickets

The First People of Hawai'i and the Mainland come together in this stunning performance of Native dance, music, and storytelling.
Back for their third residency at Springstep, Hawaiian Kumu Kawika Alfiche and Hula ensemble Halau ‘o Keikiali’i honors the deep relationship between New England and Hawai'i in this enchanting presentation of traditional and modern hula dance and music.
Joining the Halau will be Pascua Yaqui tribe member Edwardo Madril of Four Winds Dance, presenting the amazing Hoop Dance and other dances of the Plains Indian culture, and traditional storyteller from Rhode Island's Narragansett tribe, Thawn Harris. 
Food inspired by the cultures being presented will be for sale, along with beer and wine beginning at 6:15pm. Come at 5:30pm to enjoy a gallery opening reception featuring Native New England artists (more information below).

Workshops
Sunday, April 3, 2011
9:30am - 3:00pm
Full schedule and prices

Choose from 9 different workshops:
- Beginning and Interemdiate Hula Kahiko (Ancient Dance)
- Advanced Hula Kahiko (Ancient Dance)
- Keiki Hula (Children's Class)
- Beginning and Interemdiate Hula Auana
- Advanced Hula Auana
- Lei Making
- Lauhala Weaving
- American Indian Dance with Edwardo Madril (Children's Class Ages 8+)
- American Indian Dance with Edwardo Madril (Adults)

Native Gallery Exhibit
Opening Reception
Saturday, April 2, 2011
5:30pm (Free)

Browse a stunning selection of traditional and contemporary artworks created by Native New England artists.


Round Table Discussion
"Creating Art and Maintaining Traditional Boundaries"Native Artist Exchange - discussion co-hosted by NEFA
Friday, April 1, 2011
5:00-6:30pm

Halau 'o Keikiali'i, Edwardo Madril, Thawn Harris, and other native New England artists and performers gather to discuss the challenges of maintaining traditional boundaries in a contemporary world. This event is open to the public.


This project is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Art's Fast Track Grant and the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the NEA, with additional support from the six New England state arts agencies.

3/24/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day - Marty Allen

by karen Krolak
Sock Puppet Manor's Bob Lollybottom


Even though Marty Allen has been mixed up in Monkeyhouse in multiple ways almost since we started, I still can't figure out how to describe him. I remember how Amelia O'Dowd (another Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day) used to rave about his student projects at Mass College of Art and yet struggle to categorize what exactly he was creating. Suddenly, I feel that I should not have teased her quite so much about this...karma is a kick in the pants.

Recently, Marty's genius has been focused on sock puppets. He has toured the nation with Uncle Monsterface, a band that will rock your socks off and transform them into future musicians. Frequently, you can find him hawking charming sock puppet portraits on New York street corners too. (They are quite an addictive way to build an art collection. I purchased a few when he started selling them at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center (yet another Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day) and they are proudly interspersed between my wedding photos in the entryway to our condo.) In less than 100 hours, he will unleash Sock Puppet Manor, an online sock soap starring Dr Vampire and Phineas Von Cliven. Bwa ha ha ha ha.

You might recognize him as the vainglorious voice reading my quirky text in Odds, one of the quartets we will be presenting tomorrow night at Against the Odds. Our show will also open with Caitlin Meehan and Nikki Sao Pedro performing Zizz, to Uncle Monsterface's Go! (Neither of these pieces were in last week's show and this week is your only chance to see Zizz during this festival. Curiosity is contagious you know.)

So seize a moment this weekend and seek out this marvelous mastermind.

 http://www.sockpuppetmanor.com/

Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
 
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/23/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day - Jason Ries

by karen Krolak

Yikes on a bike, Jason Ries has been a whirlwind of creativity and activity recently. Somehow he manages to whip back and forth between projects without toppling the metaphorical tower of hats perched on his head. I adore the way that he draws artists together and how he manages to engage so many people in his projects.

For example, did you hear about the rousing Spork he led last Friday night after the first production of Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival? Even after an afternoon lugging in lighting equipment, followed by teching a full show in just about an hour, and running lights and sound for said performance, he managed to coax everyone into staying and sharing their thoughts. We discussed everything from "pants that piss you off so much that it improves your performance"  to being "the Grandmother of mentors of this room." As people offered up questions or observations, the orange walls of the Medium studio echoed with laughter, which Julia noted is one of Monkeyhouse's favorite survival tools. Having sat through many post show discussions, I realize what a huge challenge it is to get people comfortable enough to talk but Jason made it seem effortless.

You would have never guessed that he had opened another show, Actors' Shakespeare Project's Living in Exile, the night before. According to Terry Byrne at the Boston Globe, Jason's "spare, but enormously effective lighting" suggests "wind and storms and turns shadows into extra characters that loom over the action and then disappear." The Boston Events Insider gushed "lighting designer Jason Ries's choices are shrewd and compelling. Simple changes from cool to warm light help transport us from tranquil beaches and pools to raging fires and battlefields."

So as you start hatching plans for this weekend, remember that you have two options for seeing Jason's brilliance: Against the Odds and Living in Exile (Closes on March 27! So hurry.) 

3/22/11

Everybody Loves Lynn Schwab! -- Part II

by Nicole Harris

I am very excited that the one and only Lynn Schwab will be in Boston this weekend!  And even better, she's teaching class and YOU can come take it!

Photo: Lois Greenfield
This past Friday I premiered The Shed (choreographed by Lynn Schwab) and I will be performing it again this upcoming Friday (Buy your tickets now!)  On Saturday (March 26th) Lynn will be teaching two classes at Springstep:

Body Percussion
2:00-3:30

Beg/Int Tap
3:30-5:00


Classes are $18 each ($12 for students/seniors/BDA & Springstep members/Medford residents) 

Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
 
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

Against the Odds Drawing

Throughout Against the Odds we will be selling tickets to the Against the Odds Drawing.  Each weekend two lucky winners will win a pair of tickets to a local arts event.  All tickets will be entered into the Grand Prize Drawing for a chance to win tickets to The Fashion Show, an amazing evening of hope and fashion where everyone is a survivor, to benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

Tickets are $2 each or SIX for $10 (That's buy five get one FREE!) and can be purchased at any Against the Odds event.  Help support Monkeyhouse and all these amazing local artists!!

What else can you win?  Good question!


Against the Odds Drawing #2

Winners Announced Saturday, March 26th
THERE ARE TWO CHANCES TO WIN!

Enter to win a pair of tickets to: 
All-Star Tap and Jazz Salute
        
Friday, May 13 @ 8:00pm
Regent Theatre
7 Medford St, Arlington, MA

OR
Native Music and Dance from Hawai'i and the Mainland

Saturday, April 7th @ 7:00pm
Springstep
98 George P. Hassett Dr, Medford, MA

Donated by Josh Hilberman & Springstep

***

Against the Odds Drawing #3

Winners Announced Saturday, April 9th
THERE ARE TWO CHANCES TO WIN!


Enter to win a pair of tickets to: 
By Charles Mee
        
Thursday, May 5-Saturday, May 21
10 Channel Center Street, Fort Point, Boston


OR

Contrapose Dance and
Kelley Donovan & Dancers

June 10th – 12th
Calderwood Pavilion
527 Tremont St, Boston, MA


Donated by Fort Point Channel

***

Against the Odds Drawing #4

Winners Announced Saturday, April 16th
THERE ARE TWO CHANCES TO WIN!


Enter to win a pair of tickets to: 
By Green Street Studios
        
July 8th-9th
Green Street Studios
185 Green Street, Cambridge, MA

OR

Dance Complex Faculty Concert

May 14th-15th
Dance Complex
536 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA


Donated by Green Street Studios & Dance Complex

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Amelia O'Dowd

by Nicole Harris

We are THRILLED that Amelia is part of Against the Odds, even from a few states away.  Ramfeezled, Amelia's choreography pictured above, will be performed by Nikki Sao Pedro this Friday!  (Buy your tickets now!)  Also, Amelia has sent some really amazing hand made items that will be on display throughout Against the Odds.

I'm sad Amelia wont be able to join us in person but I am glad that she will still be part of this exciting adventure.  Thank you Amelia!!

Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
 
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/21/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Hannah Verlin

by Nicole Harris

While I have yet to have the opportunity to meet Hannah I have seen the beautiful installation she designed for Against the Odds.  For the first two weeks it is hanging under the stairs in the Springstep atrium so it can be seen from the medium studio during performances.  (It's going to be part of Adumbrate at Friday Night Out #2 this weekend!  Buy your tickets now!)  For the final two weeks it will be in the performing space in Hawkins Hall.  You don't want to miss this gorgeous piece of art!  For more information on Hannah's work, click here!


Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
 
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/19/11

3/19 Sassy Saturday Classes Postponed

by karen Krolak

I apologize for the late notice on this but I need to attend a funeral tomorrow afternoon and Monkeyhouse has decided to postpone both the Communicating through Choreography and Improving Partnering workshops until later in the Against the Odds festival.We will send out more details as soon as we have them. Thanks for your understanding.

3/18/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Al Cripps

by Nicole Harris


We got a bit behind in our rockstar posts this week with all the preparations for tonight's show so today you get to meet a few of our amazing friends!

This fall Al came to his first Monkeyhouse event, Your Just Desserts.  I was so excited to have so much support from my friends at JP Licks!  Last weekend, Al lent us his photo-taking skills and took some new publicity photos for Monkeyhouse!  Hooray!  Keep an eye out for the photos in the near future!

Thank you Al for all your support!  You are the best!

Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Amanda Tricomi


I am sure many of you have enjoyed the sassy postcards we've been handing out this year.  Those delightful designs came from the amazing Amanda Tricomi who has gone all out in designing the Against the Odds poster.  Isn't it fabulous?!  You can find more Amanda Tricomi HERE.

Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
 
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/14/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day - Quicksilver Dance

Mariah Steele performing at Movement at the Mill

by karen Krolak

Monkeyhouse thrives on introducing audiences to artists and vice verse. During our very first conversation about Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival, we committed to presenting opening acts. I knew exactly who I wanted to invite first, Mariah Steele of Quicksilver Dance. Her work had startled me at Movement at the Mills' January 2010 performance. Her duet with Hans Rinderknecht overflowed with fluid partnering that exuded a confident chemistry charged with comfortable balances and combustible bursts. Hopping on Megabus moments after the show ended, I mulled over the piece for much of the trip down to New York. I am so eager to hear how others respond to her work during the Spork after this Friday night's performance.

Both Nicole and I were charmed by Mariah's description of her piece:
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer describes a human dilemma with a metaphor: two hedgehogs wish to become close to one another, for comfort and understanding; however the closer they become, the more vulnerable each is to hurt by the other's spines. This intimate duet explores a budding romantic relationship and the conflicting urges that draw us to one another and push us apart. Dynamic partnering results as the two dancers struggle with these forces while never losing touch with each other.

Aren't you rather curious to witness how this enigma unfolds?


Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!
 
Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.
 

Getting to Know Ashley Chandler

 I am excited to share with you a conversation between two of last week's Against the Odds Rockstars of the Day, Sarah Friswell and Ashley Chandler.  Ashley will be joining us as the guest artist for this Friday's performance.  If you haven't got your tickets yet, you should!

Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!

SF:  Are you excited to be a guest artist this coming weekend?
            AC:  Yes! I am so excited to be back in Boston dancing and visiting with my friends and family.

SF:  What is your history with Monkeyhouse?
AC:  Well, Karen would say it started back in her beginner jazz class… but I like to remember the start when I was older and wiser in my teen years when I studied modern and improv with Karen and Monkeyhouse. In my senior year I also had the opportunity of working with the company through an internship.

SF:  What was it like working with Nicole to choreograph Fidelius originally?
AC:  It was so great to work with Nicole again, we fell right back into the familiarity of working with one another which is why I think the creative process with Nicole is so unique.  We have danced together for years and have a great chemistry for moving together so it was really interesting to put the music on have, an idea and see where the movement would take us.  Sometimes it took me face first to the floor…but all in the name of art! And look at where it has brought us!

SF:  How has the piece changed for you since then?
AC:  The most obvious difference for me when I came back to the piece was the transformation of the characters, and how Caitlin and Nikki adapted it.  When I stepped in and danced with Caitlin, it allowed me to explore and play with the movement in ways I hadn’t done before. This is what is so exciting about dance four dancers do the same piece and no two moments in the piece are ever the same. 

SF:  Ashley, tell us a little about yourself, where have you received your dance training from?
AC:  I started dancing at Impulse Dance Center at age 3 and never stopped.  I trained in anything and everything I could while at the studio.  After a couple years of modern training and a conversation with Karen I realized I could pursue a career in professional dance.  I attended Adelphi University under the direction of Frank Augustyn where I received a B.F.A. in dance performance, and had the honor of working with some fantastic artists. 

SF:  What are you doing now since you’ve graduated?
AC:  I currently am a member of the Circle of Dance repertory, a dance company based out of Long Island. We perform original and restaged works at local events on Long Island. To keep on top of my training I study at the Taylor School, as well as with Heather Berest, a former Paul Taylor dancer.  I also have the pleasure of working with my girls at A Step Above Performing Arts Center as the ballet, modern, and lyrical teacher.  I wake up every day excited and in love with what I do, I am so fortunate for the all the opportunities that have come my way in my first year out of school.

SF:  What advice do you have for young dancers who would like to dance professionally?
AC: Create the possibility that you can and you will dance professionally! Don’t give up, if that passion is inside of you, all you have to do is let is guide you and it will be enough.  Expose yourself to every technique, style, and teacher you can. Find what you love about the way you move and let that lead you to your niche in dance.

There will be cuts at auditions, not so nice choreographers, smiles and lots of tears, but at the end of the day how many people can say that followed their dream and love what they do?

SF:  What are you plans now?  Do you have any other performances coming up? Performance goals? Working goals?

AC:  March is busy month for us dancers! Besides performing in Against the Odds, I am performing with Circle of Dance at the Long Island Dance Consortium March 26th.  I will also be making a guest appearance with my Step Above girls in one of their upcoming performances. 

My immediate performance goals are to continue on the path I’m on, keep performing and take on different projects and experience the NYC dance scene from different angles.  As far as working goals, I am working towards a full time company position with a touring company, as well as continuing to work for lululemon athletica. I love working with people who are committed to living full and healthy lives, the company is teaching me so much and I’m excited to see what opportunities can come my way!

3/13/11

The SPORK (Forking out questions & stirring up conversation) Post-show conversation



You know that Monkeyhouse loves you, yes?

Do you know why?

One of the reasons is that YOU have so much to say.  Yes. Even when you don’t feel you do.  Even when you’re wondering if you get it.  Even if we’ve never spoken.  Monkeyhouse values YOUR contribution.

Whether you’ve been part of the Monkeyhouse community that has experienced this first hand or are new to the conversation, your voice – be it in asking questions, giving feedback, or simply speaking your passion – is a crucial part of where our work comes from and where it goes.  It’s what Moves us.  And Motivates us. And Connects.

And with the Against the Odds Sporks, we look to extend discussions about the work you’ll see on stage into larger conversations of what it means to tell one’s tale in a time when the modes of story telling are constantly evolving, shifting, and adapting.

Against the Odds has, at it’s core, the story of Monkeyhouse’s first decade of evolution, finding it’s way as a small non-profit that remains staunchly dedicated to the missions of “Meaning though Movement” and “Community through Choreograhpy.”  In a larger sense, however, this Moving Smorgasbord of a festival is interested in motivating more conversation about sustainability, language and telling stories.

More than a talkback or simply a Q&A, we hope you’ll be enticed to stay and engage in these moderated conversations because we know you have a lot to say - And we can’t wait to hear it!


Against the Odds: 
Stories of Adaptation, Translation & Survival
March 18th-April 15th
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit our website!

That’s Not What We Do. We survive.

Erika Geller's 3/8/11 post at colabtheatre.blogspot.com following up on the Boston Theatre Conference 2011, sets an compelling agenda makes several excellent points.  One in particular, got Production Designer Jason Ries thinking... and twitching... and then his hand shot up so high, it pulled him right out of his bleacher seat. 



Can we not dig too deeply into the sports-as-cultural-touchstone/business-model analogy? As one who's been a sports nut since well before even being aware that performing arts were "a thing" and who continues to be far more so than any other theatre person I know (ok, fine, I can say that, this personal assertion is FAR more challenged in Boston than anywhere else I've been before), I think there's one, major difference...

At it's core, sports has become the Mega-Dollar industry that it has almost solely because of… wait for it… GAMBLING. It's surely not just the competitive development of the participants, nor passion of the fan-base, nor uber-cool merchandising – theatre and dance arts can all compete with that. Or, at least we were in the same ballpark before the advent of the DH.  It’s the ability to make and lose big money on the outcome of games (and, now, even more so, the results of individual performances as opposed to the tilts themselves) that eventually broke the seal and brought big money into sports and allowed it to become the media monolith that it is now.

Until the magic moment where some enterprising young "business man" drops the analogy of "Fantasy Theatre" into the field of live performing arts, I think it's a mistake to reference the Red Sox (but... it's still ok to mention the mystical beauty of the Packers, right? ;) in looking for ways to enthuse our fan base.

I think it's finally getting easier for theatre and dance to look at Film & TV, even with some similar componentry and labor pools and say, "that's cool, but it's not what this art form does... let's focus on highlighting and leveraging what's important about the live nature of what we do." What I'm talking about here is making sure we don't get too wrapped up in trying to find the "inland passageway" of what has worked for the sports industry and waste multiple decades before we get to the point where we can find ourselves saying the same there.

There is, no doubt, something we can learn in examining the sports marketing model.  But one of the strengths of dance and theatre is to evolve dialogue from (forgive this word choice, but) "static" pieces - rather than rehashing dialogue about what might be different as we "wait `til next year." That modern dance piece hopes to have the same lifts on Friday and Saturday night, forgiving an unexpected slip. The curtain comes down on Willy Loman the same way the book ends, regardless of any "new edit." Yes, each night is different, but you'd win a killing "taking the over" in body count at the end of Hamlet each night. You know how it’s going to end.

No matter how lopsided or assured any given match up is, we (theoretically, at least) don't know the outcome of any sporting event until "the last tick." Capitalizing on that is what sports (and sports gambling) has cornered for maximum financial benefit and all the trappings of "die-hard" fan bases.

Yes. Sports are cool. And enviable in their success. We know that what live art does is different. And ALSO cool. And there’s no shame in any of that.

And I think that’s what we have to keep repeating in supporting each other in our efforts to adapt and survive. Don’t be ashamed of the fact that what we have is a different way to appeal to people. It's uneasy for us to talk about this as we get so worried about sounding elitist (or, "gasp!" Canadian!) because America does more openly embrace the beauty of quick, visceral expressions of raw emotion as opposed to engagement. That's ok, too.  But here's the model.  The “Got Milk” folks have figured out that what they have to sell is still crucial, even as energy drinks continue to be packed with vitamins and supplements and, maybe someday I guess, hot dogs and apple pie.

We just need to keep reminding people (ourselves, those people mostly) of the value of what we do. Sure. It would be easier if we could just turn on the lights, fire up the sausage carts outside the theatre, open the gates and let the people just flock in with their "Pina Bausch #1" foam fingers. But that’s not what we do. What we do is different. And different is ok.

3/12/11

Against the Odds - Popping Up on 3/18

Greetings!

Recently, Monkeyhouse has been inspired by pop up stores and gourmet food trucks (Did you know that you can get escargot pops at  Spencer On The Go's French food truck in San Francisco? Yum!). So, on March 18th we are launching a pop up, mashup of dance, visual art, and conversation entitled, Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation and Survival. That's right, you and all of your friends, family, and lovers are invited to this four week long celebration at our artistic home, Springstep (98 George P Hassett Drive) in Medford, MA .

Against the Odds is a moving smorgasbord with a rotating array of opening acts, master classes, and guest artists alongside a smattering of Monkeyhouse pieces (including premieres choreographed by Eva Dean and Lynn Schwab). Each week holds a different adventure for audience members through Friday Nights Out and  Sassy Saturday Classes.

No two performances will feature the same Monkeyhouse pieces or dancers so feel free to attend as many weeks as you like. Oh, and during the course of the festival, we will change venues within the building (The first two weeks are in the Medium studio and the last two weeks are held in Hawkins Hall.) giving repeat audience members a chance to see how the rooms shape our perspective on individual pieces. And did we mention that  Hannah Verlin, who just received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for sculpture, is creating an installation for us? Get your tickets now as seating is limited and be sure to follow us on twitter or the blog to gather up more insider details.

Friday, March 18th: Friday Night Out #1
with performances by Karen Krolak & Nicole Harris
Opening Act: Mariah Steele
Guest Artist: Ashley Chandler
Short Contact Jam led by Karen Krolak
Spork (Post Show Talk- Forking out questions & stirring up conversation) led by Jason Ries

Friday, March 25th, 7:30pm: Friday Night Out #2
with performances by Karen Krolak, Nicole Harris, Nikki Sao Pedro & Caitlin Meehan
Opening Act: TAProject
Spork (Post Show Talk- Forking out questions & stirring up conversation) led by Roxanna Myhrum

Friday, April 8th, 7:30pm: Friday Night Out #3
with performances by Karen Krolak, Nicole Harris, Courtney Wagner & Caitlin Meehan
Opening Act: A puppetry performance curated by Roxanna Myrhum, Artistic Director of Puppet Showplace Theatre
Guest Artists: Anne Howarth & Bari Rosenberg
Spork (Post Show Talk - Forking out questions & stirring up conversation) led by Allison Fiske

Friday, April 15th, 7:30pm: Friday Night Out #4
with performances by Karen Krolak, Nicole Harris, Courtney Wagner, Nikki Sao Pedro & Caitlin Meehan
Opening Act:  Eva Dean Dance
Guest Artist:  Eva Dean
Spork (Post Show Talk- Forking out questions & stirring up conversation) with Hannah Verlin
And be sure to join us after the show on Friday, April 15th for our CLOSING NIGHT PARTY! (9:00-10:30 in the Springstep Atrium)

The Saturday after each performance we will be holding classes  so please join us for anything and everything!
All Against the Odds events take place at
Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA 02155. 

Tickets for Friday, March 18th & Friday, March 25th:
$15/$10 Students/Seniors/BDA & Springstep Members/Medford Residents

Tickets for Friday, April 8th & Friday, April 15th:
$20/$15 Students/Seniors/BDA & Springstep Members/Medford Residents

Classes:
$18/$12 Students/Seniors/BDA & Springstep Members/Medford Residents



Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/11/11

Eva Yaa Asantewaa's Excellent Review

Eva Yaa Asantewaa photo by Deborah Feller
by karen Krolak

I love those moments when I stumble onto someone else's blog and just swoon over their style. This happens frequently with Eva Yaa Asantewaa's Infinite Body Blog. I relish the verbal intensity and articulate density of her writing. Today's post was so sassy I needed to share it with you. It riffs off of tap production at Danspace Project this weekend featuring Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. I was pleasantly flabbergasted when I caught these two stunning performers at a benefit for Haiti last winter around the time of the Cool New York Dance Festival. The  program is part of Platform 2011 Body Madness - Rhythm and Humor curated by David Parker (I think I have mentioned a few thousand times how much I admire his creativity and mentoring panache. There is still time to apply to glow, or perhaps grow, under his tutelage as part of the Summer Stages Choreographers' Project but get cracking applications are due on April Fool's Day.) Oh, and Ryan P. Casey, our favorite towering tap dancer, apparently appears in Dorrance's petit suite. If this show wasn't sold out, I might seriously consider slipping down to NYC tonight just to see it.

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Rozann Kraus & The Dance Complex

by Nicole Harris


I was lucky enough to work with Rozann at the Green Street Emerging Artists Program this winter.  Her insights helped me look at my work in a new light.  This week Rozann was kind enough to donate two tickets to The Dance Complex's upcoming faculty concert D is for Dance to the Against the Odds Drawing.  I can't tell you how grateful I am to have such strong support from the Boston dance community.

Thank you Rozann and I hope we get to work together again soon!


Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/10/11

Dance in the Fells Gold Star Award

Photograph of Monkeyhouse's Nicole Harris by Wanda Strukus
Today's Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day, the Medford Arts Council, just wrote a piece for their blog about Dance in the Fells winning the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Gold Star Award. Knowing that many of Monkeyhouse's supporters relished Dance in the Fells, we thought you would enjoy reading it as well. We are so proud to have been a part of this festival and are grateful to have had the chance to work with Wanda Struckus and Kyna Hamill.


Cross posted with permission from the Medford Arts Council

Congratulations to Dance in the Fells, 2011 Gold Star Award Winner
Dance in the Fells, which the Medford Arts Council helped fund in October 2010, is receiving a prestigious 2011 Gold Star Award from the state. Local cultural councils like ours fund over 5000 projects and events around the state each year, and only 6 of those projects are chosen by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for Gold Star Awards for excellence in community cultural programming. We are really proud that Medford was home to a project that ranked in the top 1/10 of 1% state-wide!

The Gold Star award is based on "artistic quality, success in reaching out to underserved constituents, extent to which the project highlights a unique quality of the community, and ability to engage with the community." Dance in the Fells was a perfect example, bringing dance lovers into our tremendous natural resource in the Fells and bringing a day of performances to hikers and dog walkers and bikers.

Dance in the Fells was created and organized by Two Roads, a performance project company founded by Kyna Hamill and Wanda Strukus. On a sunny Saturday afternoon in October, the Middlesex Fells were filled with new outdoor, site-specific work by EgoArt, Inc./Nicole Pierce, Joan Green, John Kramer, Monkeyhouse Dance, and Sara Smith. Performances took place throughout the Fells at Wright’s Tower, Panther Cave, South Reservoir, The Sheepfold, Molly’s Spring, and Bellevue Pond.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in supporting Dance in the Fells: Springstep, Friends of the Fells, our colleagues at the Winchester Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, and many more. And a huge congratulations to Kyna Hamill and Wanda Strukus for organizing Dance in the Fells, and to the choreographers and performers, the many volunteers, and everyone who came and made the event such a success!

The official presentation of the Gold Star Award to Dance in the Fells will take place later this spring.

Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day - Medford Arts Council

by karen Krolak


Uff, once again lawmakers are debating slashing the NEA budget. Listening to people argue that the arts are a luxury, I am so thankful for all the people who volunteer for their local cultural councils. These cultural councils understand how the arts improve the lives of their constituents.

Since Monkeyhouse has moved to Springstep, I have been especially impressed with the  Medford Arts Council.  They were one of the main funders behind the Two Road's Dance in the Fells, which just received one of six Gold Star Awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (6 awards out of  5000 possible programs...how about those odds?). Even though Two Roads was a brand spanking new organization, the Medford Arts Council recognized that their proposal would encourage people to explore a gorgeous set of trails in the Fells, introduce new audiences to 6 different choreographers, and attract hundreds of people to downtown Medford for the day. As one of the artists involved in Dance in the Fells, I was delighted that several of the Arts Council members attended the festival and took the time to chat with Monkeyhouse. Their dedication to the project was palpable.

During our conversation, Monkeyhouse's Production Manager, Jason Ries, mentioned that we  were planning Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival at Springstep and a council member immediately suggested that we apply for funding through them. We were so honored when the Medford Arts Council awarded Monkeyhouse a substantial grant for our moving smorgasbord, Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival. Through this funding, we are able to offer discounted tickets to Medford residents ($10 for the first two weekends, $15 for the second two weekend, $12 for any of the master classes). Thanks to everyone who keeps the Medford Arts Council thriving and relevant to this community. 

Against the Odds: Stories of Adaptation, Translation, and Survival is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

3/9/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Ashley Chandler

by Nicole Harris


When I was a teenager I was a class assistant for a young intro to dance class at Impulse Dance Center.  One of my sassy little dance students was a very small (and very loud) Ashley Chandler.  I have been on hand for almost all the milestones in Ashley's dance life, both big and small.  From the day she joined the Connecting Point Dance Company to the year I made her wear yellow overalls in tap class (I never lived that one down) to an infinite number of Monday afternoons with her as my class assistant to her Dance Adelphi performances.  I have always been proud of all of Ashley's accomplishments and I am honored that now, with a professional dance career of her own, I will be performing with Ashley on the opening night of Against the Odds on Friday, March 18th.  Please come out and see what a beautiful, strong and spirited dancer Ashley has become.

Ashley, thank you for being there through many milestones in MY life.  I love you.


Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/8/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Allie Fiske and Springstep

by Nicole Harris


Against the Odds wouldn't be possible without the help and support of Allie and all the folks at Springstep.  Between providing us with our home and being amazingly open and flexible to all our big ideas for Against the Odds we would be at a loss without them.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday we are going to be having a Friday Night Out Drawing and we have recently been given another fabulous drawing prize, a pair of tickets to SPIRIT: Native Music and Dance from Hawai'i and the Mainland at Springstep!  The drawing will be held the second weekend (March 25th & 26th) so you'll have to come to one of the first two weekends to enter!

Thank you Allie and everyone at Springstep!  We all love you!

(Allie will be moderating our post-show discussion on Friday, April 8th!  Don't miss it!)


Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/7/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Shelley Neill and CMAC

by Nicole Harris



As you know, we have always had much love for Shelley and all the folks over at CMAC.  We've held many a concert there over the years and are always excited to be part of their annual BOOMTOWN Festival!  We've just learned that Shelley donated two tickets to Movement Workshop Group's Wanderlust to our Friday Night Out Drawing!  (You'll have to come to the first weekend's performance and classes March 18th & 19th to enter the drawing, so see you there!)

Thank you Shelley!  We wouldn't be here without all your support!


Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/4/11

The Against the Odds Rockstar of the Day -- Sarah Friswell

by Nicole Harris

Each of us here at Monkeyhouse have always considered ourselves amazingly lucky to have such a strong and dedicated group of students.  Today I was reminded of just how amazing they are when former student Sarah Friswell offered to help with not just one but FIVE upcoming interviews for Against the Odds.  You might remember Sarah from her article on audition advice, her interview with Michael Vernon or the tale of her first piece of choreography.  Keep an eye out for her here on the blog in the near future as she sheds a little light on some of the amazing people we have working on Against the Odds!

Thank you Sarah!  I love you!

(Are you interested in doing some interviews too?  
Let me know!)

For more information on Against the Odds and to buy tickets click here!

Against the Odds is supported in part by the Medford Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Thank you to Springstep for its support of this event.

3/3/11

Movement at the Mills 3/4

Monkeyhouse had a blast reworking Anti-ossification and Chor-i-dor for our performance at Movement at the Mills last fall. This free series is a fabulous way to become acquainted with local dance artists and/or could be a sassy addition to any date night. If you are in the South End tomorrow night, drop in and check out the next installation of Movement at the Mills featuring work by Zoe Dance, In Noon, and Luminarium Dance Company.

 Movement at the Mills
Friday March 4, 2011
6-9M
Free & open to the public
Performances will occur on three stages scattered throughout the evening.
Audience members are invited to walk through the Gallery & observe various styles 
of dance as visual art.

3/2/11

National Medal of Arts - Jacob's Pillow

Men Dancers in Kinetic Molpai ; photo courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Archives

by karen Krolak
Huzzah, in less than 12 hours, President Barack Obama will present the National Medal of Arts to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the White House's East Room! If you are interested in viewing the ceremony, it will be streamed live from http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.

The National Medal of Arts honors exemplary individuals and organizations that have encouraged the arts in America and offered inspiration to others through their distinguished achievement, support, or patronage. The Medal’s genres and forms encompass arts education, crafts, dance, drawing, film, graphic/product design, interior design, landscape architecture, literature, classical and popular music, painting, patrons/advocates, photography, presenting, printmaking, sculpture, theater, and urban design. The President personally selected the recipients from nominations submitted to him by the National Council on the Arts, a group of Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed individuals. The Council's recommendations are culled from hundreds of nominations submitted by citizens across the country.

I would write more but I really must scurry off to sleep. Congratulations to one of my favorite dance organizations.

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