Meet Rosie and Marie!

by Nicole Harris
Last month I told you a little about two of our interns, David and Katelyn.  This month I'd like to introduce you to Rosie and Marie.  Both of these lovely ladies are juniors at Natick High School and I am incredibly glad to have them both on the team.

Rosie has been a long time student of Impulse Dance Center and has studied with both Karen and I over the years.  She and her family are big foodies and she has always had great advice on places to try, even when she was just eight or nine! 

Marie just recently starred in Natick High School Drama's High Society.  She has been a student of mine there for three years now and has recently begun joined class with David and Katelyn.  I have loved watching Marie grow into a strong and beautiful young woman on stage and in life.  And oh my head, can that girl sing!

I am honored and excited to have so many new young faces within the organization.  Here is a little interview between these two lovely ladies to let you know a bit more about them.

Do you or someone you know want to join the intern team? Email me today for more information!


24 Hour Choreofest!

by Nikki Sao Pedro Welch

photo by Michelle Boule

I was beyond excited when Karen Krolak asked me to be one of the choreographers for the 24-hour Choreofest hosted by Luminarium Dance Company! I was even more thrilled when she told me I would be co-choreographing with Jason Ries! This particular festival was very different from any show I have been a part of.

For 24 hours we;
-were locked in the Dance Complex in Cambridge,
-were only allowed to bring one suitcase filled with potential props, costume pieces, and accompaniment, shower items, and anything else we felt we needed
-had to create a piece from a concept that was picked out of a hat,
-had to come up with new material, costumes, and music
-only had tech in the actual performance space for ten minutes!
- had to perform 2 SHOWS the next day

It was and intense, inspiring, and such a positive experience!!

Other companies that were involved included, The People Movers, 1,000 Virtues Dance, Synthesis Aesthetics Project, and Luminarium, amongst other dancers/choreographers.

At the start of the Choreofest, we all arrived around 7:30PM to discuss "house keeping," meaning, check in times, tech times, and most importantly, picking our concept. The artistic directors of Luminarium Dance asked that we add to the concept list already filled with suggestions from Facebook fans. Jason, Sarah, and I took advantage of this and added many interesting and "Monkeyhouse-esk" ideas. When it was time to choose, others pulled, "addition," "secret." "imperfection," and "ordinary." When it was our (Monkeyhouse) turn to pull a concept we got none other than, "GIANT SQUID EYE." Jason, Sarah Feinberg (dancer), and I all looked at each other puzzled at first but then we were eager to take on the challenge.  Shortly after concepts were picked, all companies were assigned to their work space and magic began...

Throughout the night we improvised and did our typical Monkeyhouse musings, watched others in their creative processes, gathered factual information about the Giant Squid Eye from valid resources (Wikipedia :) ), played twister at 4:00AM, and we were able to create a 7-minute piece in 7 hours. Our piece included text, lights attached to our body, partnering, and many other components. I can honestly say that the actual process of creating did not have many obstacles and Jason, Sarah, and I all contributed to make the piece come to life. The only taxing part of the experience was creating and performing on 1 hour of sleep. However, I was extremely proud of everyone involved for creating such great work and putting on a great show!

If Monkeyhouse had the opportunity to take part in the Choreofest next year, I would definitely do it again!


Miss America hopeful makes rhythms, memories with longtime mentor

It is early on a Friday morning in Concord, New Hampshire, and over the soulful notes of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” tap dancer Aaron Tolson is demonstrating a step for one of his students. Full of fast shuffles and sudden weight shifts, combined with the music’s quick tempo, it’s no easy feat of feet, even for him.
“That’s definitely at your threshold of speed,” he comments wryly. “That’s mean. That’s good stuff.”
His student, 21-year-old Megan Lyman, who was crowned Miss New Hampshire 2012 earlier this year, is not intimidated. She immediately attempts to replicate Tolson’s sounds, correcting herself as she goes along. When she has it down, Tolson plays the music again. Lyman messes up almost right away and breaks into a fit of embarrassed laughter.
“See this crazy person?” Tolson inquires jokingly to me. “She’s fired!”
With their playful banter and relaxed attitudes, the two tappers look like they’re just having another private lesson. But this time, there’s more at stake than just a few shuffles: Tolson is choreographing Lyman’s routine for the talent portion of the 2013 Miss America Pageant.
The two met in 2001, when Tolson taught a guest class at Broadway North, the small studio in Belmont, New Hampshire, where nine-year-old Lyman was training. She said that they “instantly connected.”
“I remember telling the owner that I thought Megan had a lot of talent and was different than the rest of the kids,” Tolson said. “Her mother agreed with me and thought it would be good for me to work privately with her.”
Tolson, 36, a master teacher and choreographer, performed for six years with the touring phenomenon Riverdance, where he was a featured soloist and dance captain. Along with best friend and fellow hoofer Derick Grant, he co-created Imagine Tap!, a tap revue which debuted in Chicago in 2006, and became a spokesman for the dancewear company SoDanca. A New Hampshire native, he moved to New York City in 2010 and teaches open tap classes for all levels at various studios.
After meeting Lyman, who has been tapping since the age of three, he began choreographing her solo routines for local dance competitions. As she grew older and more advanced, she performed his choreography at professional venues like Tap City: The New York City Tap Festival and the Beantown Tapfest in Boston, Massachusetts.
She also became the dance captain for Tolson’s New England Tap Ensemble, which he started in 2007.
“Megan was not part of it initially,” he said. “I didn’t just want to hand her an opportunity. I told her I needed her to practice more to be ready for it. She did, and with her motherly attitude and strong work ethic, quickly earned herself a leadership role.”
Inspired by many of her dance teachers, who had competed for local titles and for Miss New Hampshire, Lyman decided to enter herself when she was 15. Three times she competed for Miss New Hampshire Outstanding Teen, with Tolson choreographing her routine each time. After placing the first two years, she won the title in 2008.
Tolson continued coaching her as she competed for three years in the Miss New Hampshire pageants. Before winning the overall title, she won the talent portion with his choreography.
She is not the only contestant who will be making rhythms on the Miss America stage next year. There are eight other tap dancers competing with her – the most there have ever been in the pageant’s history.
“I think it will make for a great show and competition,” Lyman said. “If I win, I want to win against the best.”

“It’s very exciting to me as a tap dancer,” Tolson said. “It shows that there’s a real love for the art form – that there are people trying to be their very best at a style of dance I often hear is dying.”

Through all these years of working together, and a lot of quality time both in and out of the dance studio, student and teacher became close friends. Their relationship helped them through some of the most difficult periods of their lives, when they were both affected by disease.
When she was 12, Lyman had a small lump removed from her right shoulder. A biopsy confirmed what she and her family had feared: cancer. She was the first adolescent female in the country to be diagnosed with fibrosarcoma, a stage three soft tissue sarcoma typically found in males over the age of 30 who became terminally ill, as well as infants who died before their second birthday.
“Knowing the odds, my entirely family, friends and community were scared for my life,” she said.
“We happened to be dancing together in New York City when she got the news,” Tolson recalled. “She danced her troubles away with an amazing performance.”
But the physical, emotional and mental stress of her battle kept Lyman out of the studio for almost two years. During that time, she underwent five removal surgeries and two cosmetic surgeries at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts.
“Before the cancer, my love for tap dancing was growing, and I was one of the top dancers at my studio,” she said. “Between surgeries, I was too embarrassed to return and not be able to give it my all.”
While she was sick, one of her doctors recommended her to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They surprised her by building a dance studio in her home, complete with marley floors, mirrors, ballet bars, a sound system and a display for all her trophies.
“It’s still my place of choice to rehearse,” she said, “and it’s where I will be practicing for the Miss America stage!”
In July of 2004, while she was fighting her own illness, Tolson’s father, Aaron Sr., was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died in August.
“Megan and her mother, Liz, went through the whole experience with me like no one else could,” Tolson said.
He remembered a particular day that he said still brings tears to his eyes. “Megan wanted to see my dad, who by that time was bedridden. But he came out onto the porch for her, and she danced for him in the street. Boy, did he smile! You can’t teach a kid to be that special; she just is.”
As Lyman prepares for the Miss America competition, she and Tolson continue to work together as often as her busy schedule, full of Miss New Hampshire duties, allows. Between all of the blood drives, road races, parades, preliminary competitions and other events she must attend, she joins Tolson in the studio in New York City approximately every three weeks, working four to five hours over a two-day period.
“I am choreographing slowly so that she can master every moment of her dance,” said Tolson. “We both could go faster, but this is her moment.”
This is his third time working with a Miss America contestant and having his work featured in the pageant.
“The first time I was cocky – I thought I knew it all,” he admitted. “The second time was a much more meaningful experience. I was at a high point in my career and wanted to put all that good energy into my choreography so that my contestant would be successful.”
That contestant, Emily Hughes, a former Miss New Hampshire herself, is now Tolson’s wife. Together, they run a small business, “Tap2You,” an all-tap competition with a focus on education.
“This time, it’s very different,” said Tolson. “I have known Megan her whole dancing life and I want her to shine as bright as I can help her shine. The pressure is serious, but exciting. I know that I’m the man for the job.”

Although the stakes are higher than ever this time around, the two have worked together for so long, have come to know each other so well and have been through this process so many times before that they said they are not nervous, but simply looking forward to the big day.
“Aaron has always believed in me,” said Lyman. “No matter what it is I’m doing, he’s my number one fan. We’ve always stayed connected because, through the good and the bad, I have reached out to him to help me move forward.”
“Being nervous is a natal feeling when talking about competition,” said Tolson. “I try to apply that energy into excitement, and channeling that excitement into my student and her choreography typically leads to confidence. Megan will distinguish herself simply by being Megan.  She’s adopted her favorite parts of her favorite teachers and developed a style over her many years of dedication that shows ease and enjoyment.
“I’m not preparing her to beat her competition; I’m preparing her to give the best performance she could possibly give.”

[See Ryan's news item on Aaron and Megan in the December 2012 issue of Dance Teacher!]

Good Things from 2012!

It's that time of the year where we look back on the past year and begin planning for the future.  We thought we would share with you just a few of our good things for the year to get you in the spirit!

Caitlin Meehan had work presented and Courtney Wagner performed for the first time as part of the Cool NY 2012 Dance Festival!  This was Monkeyhouse's fourth year at Cool NY and we have loved being able to participate!

Sarah Friswell, Sarah Feinberg and Aisha Cruse, who had been joining us for Musings (a time before company rehearsal dedicated to improvisation and exploring new ideas) over the previous six months or so, began joining us for rehearsals and became Monkeyhouse Guest Artists!

Mariah Steele began setting a new work on Monkeyhouse!  She used Musing time to develop new material based on input from dancers over series of weeks.

Monkeyhouse partnered with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and held the first of two Skorts (a showing of works in progress) at their wonderful space in Harvard Square.  This Skort showed the start of a new project (affectionately known around the company as "the palindrome piece") that is a collaboration with Master Palindromist, Barry Duncan and was filmed for a documentary of which Barry is the star!

In continued collaboration with both Mariah Steele and the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Monkeyhouse held another Skort which showed the beginning stages of the piece Mariah set on the company.  Karen Krolak, Nicole Harris and Mariah Steele also participated in a Gonson Lecture at CCAE.  These fascinating lectures cover a wide variety of topics and are always attended by even more fascinating people.  We have loved being part of them!

Monkeyhouse had it's first art exhibit in collaboration with our Spring Barnes & Noble Bookfair!  Featuring photos of the company and the work of our favorite photobooth photographer, JK Photo!

Nicole, almost a full year after suffering a series of strokes, was cleared to begin dancing again.  What more is there to say?

Monkeyhouse had performances in two different states going on simultaneously one weekend in August.  Caitlin and Nicole were up at Cultivate! in Bethlehem, NH while Jason, Nikki and Sarah Feinberg were at 24 Hour Choreofest in Boston!  It was such an exciting weekend!

Your Just Desserts brought together fans, friends and family of all ages to celebrate Monkeyhouse over cake, cookies, pies and many more tasty treats.  It was an exciting and encouraging night for all involved.

Happy Birthday to us!  Monkeyhouse turned twelve!  That's a whole dozen, folks!

Monkeyhouse learned about the impending closing of Springstep and the potential loss of our artistic home.  While we mourned a lot of loss this year, we are also filled with thanks.  We wouldn't have gotten to where we are without so many of you and the outpouring of love throughout the second half of this year was truly astonishing.  Thank you for always being there for us.

Monkeyhouse looks to the future and begins planning the rescheduled Against the Odds Festival.  That's right!  It's official!

Against the Odds Imperfect{ive} Experiments
March 21st-24th
98 George P. Hassett Dr., Medford MA, 02155

Join us for this celebration that includes work from all sorts of amazing artists.  Keep an eye on the blog for more information soon and SAVE THE DATE TODAY!

Share with us your good things for the year here or on Facebook!


Monkeyhouse Loves Zach Galvin!

by Rosie Steinberg
photo by JK Photo

At first glance, Zach Galvin (Mr. Galvin to the students of Natick High School) is just a regular Vice Principal. However upon a single conversation, one can tell that there is much more to this educator than meets the eye. Knowing that some readers may not have a chance to have one of those conversations, I decided to conduct one for you all. Prepare to have your expectations defied.

Favorite Song? (Too many favorites to mention)...Toby Kieth's "How do you like me now"

Favorite Sandwich?... Bubblin' Brook Clam Roll

Favorite Book?... David McCoullough's Adams & Alex Haley's Roots okay... And The Great Gatsby!

In honor of your amazing emceeing at Your Just Desserts, Vanilla or Chocolate?

Vanilla ... it is not as fun as chocolate; but simply classier.

How has your involvement in Monkeyhouse and the art world in general influenced the way that you approach your role as Vice Principal at Natick High School?
My job as vice principal is really just a stage managing job. My job is to help the performers (the students and the staff) have the best performance they can have that day. I work in the background to make sure that they have what they need to succeed: safe environment, people following rules, etc.

I am a big fan of Dispatch and State Radio, so I was impressed to see that you appeared in their “Knights of Bostonia” video. Tell us a bit about that experience.

It happened because I have great friends from growing up who still to this day remember that I am a performer at heart. The director, Andrew Mudge, and the lead singer, Chad Urmstrom were both friends of mine and my siblings. Best part of that experience was sitting in the park in Hull, freezing to near death and watching this crowd of extras come over the hill and in it were three students from Natick High who I knew had no idea that I was there. They walked right by me (as I was in a police uniform) and as they did I said to one of them . "Hey, Ashlock....Shouldn't you be in class??" It took him almost two minutes to figure out his vice principal had followed him all the way down to Hull. The other great thing about that shoot was that I was with old friends having a great time and I also shot it with one of my nephews. Great gig! Good time.

With a surprisingly small amount of research I was able to find a “What You Don’t Know About Mr. Galvin” google site that I found hard to believe...until I saw that it was published by YOU! As a student, school administration in general can sometimes seem like an alien group of adults who were all born in their late thirties. How does this “breaking down the barrier”, so to speak, affect your relationship with students?
Clearly I was not born in my late 30s! It is all about not being afraid to show them that I am a real person. Students know so much about me because I think it is important that they do. Just earlier this week four or five seniors learned for the first time that I can rap. They were caught so off guard and yet at the same time they were excited by the fact. There is a human behind the job that I do. I look at VP like a character I play on stage. It is realistic, but it is not who I am as a person, though many parts of me are in the role. I try to break down the barrier by being real with students, but there are realities that order is my job and maintaining order so people can feel safe and perform well is my reality.

You are an avid fundraiser and supporter of the Jimmy Fund, leader of the Boston Jimmy Fund Walk team “Zach’s Pack”, and an inspirational cancer survivor. With how chaotic everyone’s schedules and lives are these days, what advice can you offer to those who want to lend a helping hand but have a hard time fitting it into their everyday lives?
Any little thing helps. I have every reason in the world not to continue raising money. It is always so much work and it is always so much time. In the end I am reminded that I would not be here, literally, if someone did not help raise the few dollars it probably cost to find a drug that would keep me alive and enable me to beat cancer. So, I always suggest to people to do what they can. So many students and teachers from Natick High have helped me for one day of walking over the years that we have now raised nearly half a million dollars for people fighting cancer. Half a million!! Find a way to keep the importance of the work in perspective. If you come to my office, you will see kids faces, all fighting cancer. Some of them are gone. When I see them on my desk and across the desk from some student having a crisis of drama here at the school, I often let the student know that the problem they are facing, though challenging, will work out. One day at a time seems so uncomplicated and yet it is often so difficult to accomplish that focus and perspective. Lending a helping hand in any manner, in any group is important and though it often goes unnoticed by most, it is so noticed by those who benefit from it. It doesn't cost a dime to be nice to people. In fact, it is free. And yet what we often get in return for helping, for contributing is of so much more worth.

So why does Monkeyhouse love Zach Galvin? He brings together the three things we love most: art, education, and a massive heart. On top of it all, Monkeyhouse’s Karen Krolak has been friends with him since high school, and that’s really all the endorsement I need.


Double Your Dollars!

As you know, Monkeyhouse is in the midst of it's Against the Odds 2013 IndieGoGo Campaign.  Did you also know that many businesses will happily match some or even all of your charitable donations?  How cool is that?  You could DOUBLE your donation simply by checking in with your HR department!  Talk about being ambassadors for Monkeyhouse! 


A Little Dance for your Friday

Remember how we were talking Monday about being ambassadors for Monkeyhouse?  Here is another chance for you to spread the word and your love for Monkeyhouse across the internet.  This beautiful video was shot at the last Against the Odds festival by the amazing Andria Chamberlin and edited together with this beautiful music by Kevin Pelrey to give you a little more information about this year's festival.  Take a minute to watch Karen, Nikki and Caitlin do their thing and then share it with someone you think might also love Monkeyhouse.
Thank you for all you do!


Happy Birthday Marty Allen!

by Marty Allen
Monkeyhouse's Birthday Boy of the Month is Marty Allen! A veritable jack-of-all-trades, Marty is a working artist, writer, musician, puppet maker, and liker of life hailing from Massachusetts. Marty's artistic endeavors have been numerous and uniquely creative, leaving a distinct footprint on the world of art. Thrice he has taken on the Songaday Project, composing a total of 90 songs in as many days. Balancing his musical
talent is Marty's obvious and distinct aesthetic. Dotting the walls of collectors and sock puppet enthusiasts across the world are Marty Allen's critically acclaimed puppet
portraits. The only sock puppet portrait salesman in the world, Marty has filled a very unique niche by marketing photographs of his own hand-made characters. Each comes with a detailed backstory, both of the character's life and the thought process that led to Marty's creation of each character.

Uncle Monsterface by Marty Allen
The love of character and story construction that first inspired Marty's sock
puppets has recently developed into his newest project: writing. His latest series of sock puppets is the cast of the upcoming novel, "Theodore and The SEVEN LAYERS OF SPACE Part 1: The Search For Mozzarella Botticelli." Marty's passions for story, puppetry, and music combine for his largest claim to fame: the multimedia rock band, Uncle Monsterface. Uncle Monsterface, named for the puppet member of the band, has toured nationally and released two full albums and EPs (available on iTunes!). Marty has been a tremendous supporter of Monkeyhouse, even featuring us in Songaday's blog, and
continues to inspire us with his perpetual creativity.

Happy birthday, Marty!

p.s.  Looking for amazing and creative holiday gifts?  Marty can be found at the Union Square Holiday Market in New York City selling his amazing sock puppet portraits right up until the big day!  Not in NYC?  Don't worry!  You can buy them online too, although you must order by December 15th in order to get them by Christmas!

Monkeyhouse would also like to wish the happiest of birthdays to these lovely December babies:

David Makransky, Thomas Durand, Sarah Grace, Todd Shanks, Jon Lavalley, Marty Allen, Sammy Davis Jr., Ralph Farris, Mara Blumenfeld, Barry Duncan, Rowan Salem, Jenna Dewan, Jennifer Beals, and Jose Greco.

If you don't know who all these fabulous people are make sure you take a minute to check out some of the links!  Whether they are famous choreographers or local supporters our birthday boys and girls do some really amazing things.

Want to be on the birthday list?  Click here and let us know when your birthday is!


Getting to Know Barry Duncan: Part 4

By Courtney Wagner

C: Other than palindromes, what are you interested in and involved in?
B: Keep in mind that palindrome writing is just the most obvious aspect of my interest in/preoccupation with reversibility.  It's my expectation that reversibility will change the world.  I know it can be done, and I hope I'll be the one who does it.

I try my hand at different kinds of writing:  songs, plays, children's books.  In fact, I'm thinking that all the publicity I'm receiving will make it possible for me to find an agent.  

I'm keeping my eyes open for literary properties that could be turned into musicals.  I like the idea of writing lyrics for specific characters in specific dramatic situations.

C: What impact do you see reversibility having on the world?  Are you talking about written word only or something else (technology? medicine?)
B: My belief / hope is that I'll eventually move beyond letters, beyond words, beyond the alphabet.  When that happens, perhaps I'll be able to solve a puzzle or decipher a code that will result in something beneficial.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being only a master palindromist, but my hunch is that it will lead to bigger and more important things.

C: What are some other aspects of your interest and preoccupation with reversibility?
B: I doubt that any normal person would believe how much of my day is spent looking for, thinking of, finding reversible patterns in everything.  I now use my cell phone to tell time.  But, when I used to wear a wristwatch, I would constantly be checking for palindromic times.  A great pleasure was looking at my watch at 9:59:59, looking away, then looking back at 10:00:01.  What a rare treat if I could do that twice in a day!  It's a wonder I wasn't regularly slamming into people on the sidewalk.

C: Very interesting. I hope you do find an agent!  What do you use as ideas/inspiration for children's books and song lyrics?  What type of musician would you like to collaborate with (specific person or general genre or even instrument)?  Or are you also your own musician (singer/songwriter Barry Duncan)?
*Side note*: Could you write a palindrome musical?!?  I'm kidding...sort of.  The idea sounds totally overwhelming but I just had the thought that if you let Monkeyhouse star in it it would be lots of fun!
B: It may be that I'm drawn to palindromes and song lyrics because both are circular and self-contained (and, to an extent, self-referential).  I'm rather confused by the concept of plot (or, for that matter, anything linear), so that's a real challenge for me.  One of my children's books does have a reversible component to it.

Writing lyrics, I'm more comfortable if I have characters in a defined dramatic situation.  I'd like to find a composer who understands how to write a song – in other words, one who has an idea of how lyrics sit on a melody.

I don't know if a palindromic musical would be possible (or advisable!), but it shouldn't be too difficult to build a musical that incorporates reversibility, has some reversible aspect.  How about an operatic setting of some palindromes?  It goes without saying that members of Monkeyhouse would be near the top of my list.  Uh, can any of you sing?

C: Are you working on any other projects right now?  It can be anything - work or not, fun things, upcoming things, etc
B: I look forward to a busy time this fall.  There's work to do on the dance.  Filming continues for the documentary.  The anthology The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 will include a palindrome of mine.   I'll be having a show at a gallery in Brooklyn.  Should be fun.
In addition, I'm writing palindromes so often and so quickly these days, it's only a slight exaggeration to say that every notable event in my life finds its way into a palindrome.  For example, here's the latest one:

             “Risk,” said BD.
              Ballet.  Revel.
              CW on C2C now.  Clever.
              Tell a BD, “BD?  I ask, sir...”

C: Tell me more about this anthology...Is this anthology being published this fall?  What else is included in it?Where will it be available?  Is this the first time a palindrome of yours has been published?  If not, where else can your work be found?
B: The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 is scheduled to be released on the 2nd of October.  The editor is Dave Eggers, the introduction this year is by Ray Bradbury (completed just weeks before his death).

The selections in this volume are chosen by high school students.  If I'm not mistaken, something had to be published in a periodical in 2011 in order to be considered for this 2012 edition.  That's why my Greenward Palindrome – which was in The Believer in September of last year – is eligible, and included.

The anthology is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and should be available in all bookstores.  Yes, it's the first time anything by me has appeared in a book.  I'm honored (and not a little shocked) to be chosen.

C: When and where is this gallery show in Brooklyn?  What will it include?
B: Details of the gallery show are still being worked out, but I can tell you that it will take place at The Bogart Salon at 56 Bogart Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  It looks like the show will be there for two or three weeks in November.  There will be some palindromes, along with interpretations of the palindromes by visual artists.  And I'll be in residence there, reversing.

Like most of the things happening in my life now, the gallery show is a direct result of the Believer article.  Thank you, Andi Mudd and everyone at The Believer!  (The notable exception, of course, is the documentary:  Michael Rossi was filming me long before the article appeared.)  Peter Hopkins read it and had the feeling that I could do something special at his Bogart Salon.  I'm very grateful that there are visionaries like Karen Krolak and Peter Hopkins.  I was just in Bushwick to participate in Citydrift. The energy in that neighborhood is amazing.

C: I like my palindrome! Thanks! =)  In reading this one and in listening to the one used for Back Going No Going Back, I am reminded of poetry.  The phrases and overall character of them remind me of some poets I've read in the past.  What do you think of this?  Could you consider yourself a poet?  Would you consider palindrome writing similar to or a form of writing poetry?
B: You're kind to say so.  I'm encouraged that people who know far more about poetry than I do have detected a poetic quality in my palindromes.  (Peter Hopkins says I'll be the first poet to have work exhibited in his gallery.)  Earlier in the interview, when I said that I'm doing something different from others, that's what I meant.  Though I don't want to sound pretentious or full of myself, I like to think that what I'm trying to create is reversible art.

Gosh, I'm talking a lot – and your stop is coming up.  You've asked really good questions.  Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to ramble on and on in a seemingly interminable manner about the subject I love so well.  If I might impose on you for a few minutes more, I have something else to say about poetry.

When I was young and foolish and had a hopelessly inflated sense of my literary ability, I considered myself a poet.  I remember struggling in vain in 1975 to complete a poem about “King Lear.”  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get it.

Recently, I decided to attempt a palindrome about the final scene of “King Lear.”  It took me three or four days from start to finish, and I'm not displeased with the outcome.  What I was unable to achieve (going one way) thirty-seven years ago, I have now accomplished, going in both directions.

Duo lost in a O
Damn us
Ah sad locates in us
As I cradle her
I do show a regal lion
Evil a mask
“Cordelia,” wailed rocks
Am alive
Ill age raw
Oh so dire
Arc is a sun
I set
A cold ash
A sun madder
I moan it so loud

I am the master of the reversible world.  And everything is reversible.


GoodShop for Monkeyhouse!

by Marie Libbin

Do you do your holiday shopping online? If yes, then check out GoodShop! The great part about this website is that for just doing your normal holiday shopping, a portion of the money from purchases are given to non-profit organizations. They have thousands of popular stores and companies to choose from and even have coupons for many of these stores right on the website. All you have to do is choose the store you want to shop from on the GoodShop page and it will immediately connect you to that store's website. A percentage of your purchase will then be directly donated to Monkeyhouse. It's so simple, why wouldn't you do it?

Not good at remembering Gooshop? Don't worry! There is also a toolbar that will remind you when you go to a participating store's website that you can get coupons and make a donation for shopping there so you don't have to remember to go to Goodshop all the time.

Your shopping choices consist of everything from "banking and finance" to "toys and school". The different categories makes it easier to find that you're looking for right off the bat. The categories can also spark ideas if you haven't decided what you want to buy friends and family yet... This is so much better than Googling: "good holiday gifts!"

Get some great deals on your holidays purchases, while also benefiting Monkeyhouse! Have a GoodShop Holiday and make all your gifts give just a little bit more!


Against the Odds, Take Two!

photo by Jonathan Keith
We are thrilled, excited and generally delighted to announce that Against the Odds is BACK!  We want to thank you all for your patience and support as we rescheduled Against the Odds from the fall.  As the end of the year approaches we have kicked off a lot of our preparations for the festival which will be taking place:

March 21st-24th 
98 George P. Hassett Dr., Medford

We already have confirmation from Ryan Casey, Six One Seven Dance Collective, TAProject, Janelle Gilchrist, Audra Carabetta and Mariah Steele that they will be participating in the festival, and we're just getting started!  Within the company we are creating a whole slew of amazing new pieces from some of your favorite choreographers and some new ones too!

We have also kicked off our IndieGoGo campaign for the 2013 Against the Odds Festival.  Please take a minute to read a bit more about the festival and the artists, then tell your friends!  The biggest support you can give us is to be ambassadors for Monkeyhouse!  YOU know what we're about and what our organization aims to do - and THAT support and interest, more than anything else, is what has made us the group that we are today.  If you believe in what we're doing - please pass information about Against the Odds to anyone you know who might be interested in supporting the idea as well.  Talk us up at your holiday parties!  Tell the ladies you have lunch with about us!  Give us a shout out on Facebook!


Happy Nutcracker Season from Monkeyhouse

by Sarah Friswell

It's that time of year again.  Christmas lights twinkle in the night, the smell of burning wood stoves and evergreen trees fill the air, and a feeling of joy ensues.  The holiday season brings many wonderful things, but Monkeyhouse is especially excited that Nutcracker season has arrived.  Here are just a few opportunities to see the Nutcracker in its classic form and some with a few twists!

Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker
The original story of the Nutcracker, choreographed by Boston Ballet's Mikko Nissinen, is back this season with all new costumes, sets, and revised choreography.  It's sure to be a wonderful evening so find a friend and go check out this classic.

Photo Credit Rosalie O’Connor
The Urban Nutcracker
Presented by the Tony Williams Dance Center is the Urban Nutcracker in its 12th season.  Tchaikovsky's original music is combined with a jazz interpretation from Duke Ellington and the story is given a modern spin that audiences love!

The Nutcracker performed by the Mariinsky Ballet Theatre
Find a seat at Regal Fenway Cinemas to view the ballet performed by the current members of The Russian Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, the company who first performed The Nutcracker in 1892.

Join the Jose Mateo Ballet Theater in its 25th year presenting The Nutcracker. The show features over 200 children!


Getting to Know Barry Duncan: Part 3

By Courtney Wagner

C: What was your interest and/or involvement with dance and the arts world prior to Karen contacting you after reading about you in The Believer magazine?
B: In the summer of 1997, I attended a performance of “Swan Lake” in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  Before Karen got in touch with me, that was the extent of my involvement with dance.

C: Can you talk a little bit about what it's been like to work with Karen and Nikki and have your work adapted for or integrated into dance?
B: I wish I could say that I realized from the very beginning that the collaboration would be successful.  It's true that it's been wildly successful, and it's also true that I had no idea that it would work.  From the start, probably from the time she read the first sentence of the article in The Believer, it was Karen who had the vision for the piece.  As I recall, I accepted the commission for three reasons:
1. It was the first time anyone ever offered to pay me for writing palindromes.
2. I had confidence in Karen's confidence.
3. It seemed to me that it would be almost impossible to do, and I like a challenge.  (It turned out not to be impossible, but I'm not exactly disappointed.)

I've said time and again (to anyone who will listen) that this collaboration has been more important for me than for Karen and Nikki.   Here's what I mean:  Karen and Nikki have most likely at one time or another been involved in collaborations that weren't so great.  Not the end of the world, right?  They deal with it, they move on.  But, if this collaboration hadn't gone well, I probably would have said to myself, “What was I thinking when I agreed to write palindromes for a dance?!  Palindrome writing is a solitary profession, and I'm just going back to my couch and my legal pad and not working with anyone again.”  Instead, my experience with Monkeyhouse has opened me up, expanded my mind, and caused me to rethink reversible text and the ways it can be used.  Now I welcome the idea of collaboration.  Also, I met Cynthia Roberts for the first time in August.  She's the typographer who's collaborating on the dance.  Her work is really startling and adds another dimension to the piece.
Karen and Nikki have never greeted a suggestion of mine with “Just go away” or “Sorry, too late.”  One reason is that they both have very generous spirits.  But it also occurs to me that this flexibility – this willingness to consider other ideas, try different things, incorporate new moves – may be an occupational virtue of dancers and choreographers.  If so, then I hope I'll get many more opportunities to work with dance companies.  Maybe it will even become my specialty! Anyway, this seemingly unlikely combination – the relative rigidity of reversible text set against the fluidity of movement – has somehow produced something very special:  Back Going No Going Back.  Gosh, how did I not see that from the jump?

C: Your own path seems to have led you to somewhere very interesting with a dance collaboration and a documentary!  How do you think you will mesh traveling your own path with future collaborations (either the ones already mentioned or ones you hope to work on)?
B: I think it's because I've gone my own way that I'm in (some) demand right now.  Recently, a comedy group asked if I could write something reversible for them.  I look forward to exploring all sorts of collaborations.  Now I've reached a point where I can write on pretty much any topic, and I'm hoping this versatility will make me a valuable (or, at least, interesting) collaborator.

C: What has it been like to be the star of an upcoming documentary?  What are you most excited about for that project?  What is your least favorite part of the project?
B: I recently mentioned to my friend Paul that I'm the star of The Master Palindromist; he helpfully pointed out that I'm the subject, not the star.  It was very flattering when filmmaker Michael Rossi suggested making this documentary, as it was when Greg Kornbluh asked if he might write a profile of me (which eventually became the article in The Believer).  My hope is that the film will be a huge success, and that Michael will receive the attention he deserves.  My least favorite part of this project is having to fiddle with my clothing to put on the microphone.  But I do want the movie to have sound!


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