Colorado Bound!

 by Sarah Feinberg 
Many of you have gotten to know Sarah Feinberg over the past few years as she has become a bigger and bigger part of Monkeyhouse.  You may not know that she will be (temporarily) leaving us next week to attend grad school in Colorado.  I have known Sarah since she was a little girl and I have loved having the chance to get to know her in so many capacities throughout her life.  This summer I have spent a lot of time with Sarah and I know I'm not the only one around here who will miss her terribly while she's out starting this new adventure.  Here's Sarah to share a few thoughts on this big transition! - Nicole

I am off to Colorado for the next 2 years to attend graduate school at Colorado State University where I will be studying Occupational Therapy. The move is most definitely a bittersweet one. Since I graduated with my bachelors from Ithaca College in 2011, I have been working as a teacher for children with autism at The New England Center for Children. It has been a very rewarding and educational experience and I will miss my students very much. I can honestly say that Saturday afternoons spent at Springstep with Monkeyhouse is the thing I will miss the most. Though I was working full time and taking prerequisite courses for grad school, Saturday rehearsals were the most important part of my week. No matter what happened during the week or whatever mood I might have been in, when I walked out of that studio at 4pm, life was good!

I am excited for the new adventure I have ahead of me. I look forward to being back in school, especially in pursuit of my chosen career path and I look forward to a change of scenery (Mountains!). Though I have been told I will have little free time, I plan to check out the Colorado dance scene, continue practicing yoga and my newest extracurricular activity, rock climbing. I can't wait to do some hiking and explore the beautiful sites as well.

I can't say enough how truly grateful I am for having had the opportunity to work with such an incredible company. I have learned so much from each and every person. I look forward to continuing to support Monkeyhouse and possibly work on some projects from afar.


Dancing in Canada!

by Nikki Sao Pedro Welch 

 I was fortunate enough to go to Montreal for a week to take the Transformation Danse Intensive and it was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. The class approaches were refreshingly new and the Montreal culture is so supportive of the arts- it was amazing! I was able to take a body geography class with Isabelle Porier and a Performativity class with Stephen Thompson. I learned so many useful tools for myself as a dancer and as a teacher. While on my dance extravaganza I was also able to see two shows, "Short and Sweet," which comprised of 20 dance companies performing 3 minutes each, and "O Vertigo" a contemporary dance company that used sound manipulation in the flooring and structure on the stage. Both shows were quite different from one another which gave a great example of what Montreal's dance scene is like.  I went to three museums, walked the whole city, and basically did all I could to immerse myself into the city and what it had to offer. I can't wait to go back!!


Monkeyhouse Loves Natick High School!

by Katelyn Alcott
Monkeyhouse and Natick High School are like a peanut butter and dance sandwich eaten quickly in the brief time between classes and rehearsal.  We have had a long standing relationship with the school and its community and are constantly amazed by the things that this wonderful group of students accomplish.  

Monkeyhouse has many ties to the drama program at Natick High School, including alumni, interns and Nicole Harris's choreography for the musical productions.  The students have performed at Monkeyhouse events and both Sarah Friswell and Sarah Feinberg were once part of the drama program. 

Many of Karen's students from Impulse Dance Center have also been NHS students.  This  past year Monkeyhouse had six student interns from Natick High School, Marie Libbin, Rosie Steinberg, Laila Fatimi, David Makransky, Katelyn Alcott and Elyssa Berg.  Laila, David, Katelyn and Elyssa are all graduating seniors headed to college in the fall. Laila will be attending the University of Maine, David will be attending Boston College, Katelyn will be attending Wagner College and Elyssa will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University. Best of luck to the graduating seniors! 

Our ties to Natick High extend beyond the students.  You might remember vice principal Zach Galvin who was the emcee for last year's Your Just Desserts!  And our audiences are always peppered with NHS faculty and staff.

You can see more of these outstanding students throughout the year.  Whether you check out school performances of the drama, band and choir programs, student run groups such as Seven's Not Enough, or their out of school arts adventures which are numerous and wide ranging - you will constantly be impressed by the talent that comes from these young people.  What have you done to show your support of young local arts today?  


Am I A Dancer Who Gave Up?

by Shawn Lent

I recently came across this article posted by a friend to Facebook and felt that it was a perfect voice for many of my friends and much of what we talk about here at Monkeyhouse.  When I contacted Shawn she was kind enough to let me share it with you here.  Enjoy!  -Nicole

In 2006, I met the real Twyla Tharp for the second time in my life. The first time was at Jacob's Pillow where I got the opportunity to perform front row in The One Hundreds. My nickname growing up was "Lil Twyla" and I wanted to be a smart, sassy choreographer/dancer like her. When we met in 2006, we joked, posed back-to-back, and discussed the role of humor and wit in modern dance. Then I brought out the handwritten invitation that she sent to me when I was 16. I never made it to her studio, but getting that letter in my mailbox was one of the greatest moments in my life.

Twyla (left), Shawn (right)

In 2010, I went back to my alma mater, Millikin University, as one of two alumni selected to speak to the then current theatre and dance undergraduate body. I spoke about working with a child with cancer, leading an arts project with juvenile offenders at a community center in East London, and the role of arts in public schools. This speech was before my projects in Bosnia, Egypt, etc.

After my talk, I opened the floor to questions. One of the undergraduates asked me the following, seriously,
"Did you have any sort of breakdown when you gave up on your dreams?"

It took me a moment to process her question. For her and her peers, dance and theatre students focused on training, headshots, audition skills, and getting their big break, my career trajectory as an artist seemed to be a failure, a major detour. I composed myself and explained that I had not given up on my dream; my dream had gotten bigger.
I am dancing, with and for others. I am and will always be a dancer. I take that with me, in the ways I think, develop ideas, collaborate, move. I haven't been on a professional or semi-professional stage in six years, but I am a dancer. Yup. Because I say so. I am an artist who had decided to join tables off the professional stage.

When it comes to diplomacy, an artist needs to be at the table.
When it comes to the Board of Directors or a School Board, an artist needs to be at the table.
When it comes to sustainability policy, an artist needs to be at the table.
When it comes to facing death, an artist needs to be at the table.

Artists need to be in on...
    *    Cancer research and treatment
    *    Conflict prevention, mediation and resolution
    *    Inter-religious and Inter-cultural dialogue and education
    *    Military training and homecoming
    *    Youth development
    *    Addressing racism and bigotry
    *    Community development and organizing
    *    Divided and insular communities
    *    Hospitals, prisons/detention facilities, corporations, public schools
    *    City planning, housing and urban development
    *    Policing and crime prevention
    *    Parades and festivals
    *    Education and professional development
    *    Elder care, day care...

The artistic contribution to these areas can be revolutionary. And I am writing from Cairo, Egypt, so I do not use that word lightly.

The dream is huge.
Dancing with the children of 57357 Children's Cancer Hospital Egypt
Scott Walters says in his latest article, A New Education for a New Theatre, "So much of our education in the arts is focused on artistry as a product to be sold in the marketplace. I think we also need to teach young artists that part of their responsibility is to share the process with others. Instead of seeing themselves as special and separate from their community, instead of seeing their role as 'saying it to their faces' young artists need to commit to using their talents in service of others."

I decided to be an artist in the world. I teach dance, I lead dance experiences, I choreograph, I manage and evaluate programs, consult, share, think, write. I'm a professional and a dancer, but you probably wouldn't call me a professional dancer. I read and join projects relating not to Broadway but to cancer, death, green cemeteries, cultural diplomacy, religion, genocide, geography, databases, divided communities (from Belfast to Bosnia).
And it certainly feels like fulfilling a dream, rather than giving up on one.

Truth is, I never truly pursued the traditional path of a professional dancer heartedly. I was sick of being told what to do, where every part of my body should be at every moment. A career as a professional dancer focuses on one's faults, not one's contributions. I have always been a pretty smart dancer, picking up on movement quickly. And I can really move, travel, jump, turn, extend, flip, and perform. I'm a good dance artist. My choreography is accessible and provocative, empowering even a beginner dancer to find a sense of agency and abandon. As a teacher, I help my students learn to rely on themselves for focus and self-correction, find the joy in their own movement, empathize and grow in a community of learners.

But because my legs and back were less than flexible, my plie' less than adequate, my feet less than articulate, my extensions far from impressive; I was judged but those elements mostly. And they would be a block in any audition, including Cirque du Soleil who flew me to New York to audition nearly a decade ago.

If I had worked hard to improve those faults and had somehow succeeded in an audition, I would have found myself in the back of a music video, donning feathers and fishnets in Vegas, shuffling in a non-singing Broadway ensemble, getting seasick as a cruiseline performer, or being directed to dance someone else's contemporary vision.
Those directions work for thousands of dancers, including my dear friends. They are respectable and impressive careers. But not for me. A couple months ago I found a title that made sense in my head... social practice dance artist and manager. This works for now.
My former colleague gave me the honor of saying the following, "Shawn is the rare individual that excels at both the visionary and operational work of running a program. She is trained as a dancer and choreographer and is also a consummate, professional manager. She can access the best from both worlds and offers an expansive new model of leadership well suited to the needs of the culturally diverse global economy." Cynthia Weiss, former Assistant Director at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships, Columbia College Chicago.

And now I'm looking to build a new chapter in my life that incorporates all of this. Maybe the University of Chicago, or UN, or Make-A-Wish, or the British Council, or a city headquarters, a community arts program in some country, revolutionizing dance and theatre education...   I am realizing the job hunt can only be truly successful at this point by reaching out, throwing my arms open, and seeing what I find.

No, I never gave up on my dream. Do you agree?
My bio and CV can be found here.



Choreofest, (Somewhat) Explained

by Kimberleigh Holman
In celebration of our friendship with the folks at Luminarium (who are coming in to the studio with us next weekend to see what sort of trouble we can all get ourselves into!) we asked Kim to share her thoughts on the upcoming ChoreoFest with you!

It's very easy to get swept away creating dance solely for the end product.  Maybe you're working on a new piece for a production, a festival, for your own satisfaction or for others' eyes and brains.  Luminarium's 24-Hour ChoreoFest is a festival that focuses on the importance of process while building community.  The abstract: six dance companies with local ties arrive at the Dance Complex, get locked into the space, pick themes from a hat, and create brand new work that premieres in a fully-produced concert the following day.  Now that you have the 'what', hopefully the following text provides insight to the 'why' behind the 24-Hour ChoreoFest.

Let's rewind to the period of time between 2010 and late 2011.  As Luminarium transitioned away from being newcomers on the dance scene, we noticed a lack of community in our collective creative processes, and a lack of opportunity for the process itself to shine.   With those thoughts steeping in the combined brain space of Merli and myself, our desire to produce a unique event that the Boston community (dance and otherwise) could participate in got harder and harder to ignore. Combine that with a love for anything ridiculous, challenging, involving caffeine/adrenaline, or a combination of any of the aforementioned, and ChoreoFest was born!  

I am happy to report that our inaugural 2012 participants (including a wonderful trio representing Monkeyhouse) exceeded all expectations in building community within the festival.   We had many discussions as a group throughout the twenty-four hours of creation that enabled all participants to find similarities and differences and celebrate them.  To further integrate the Greater Boston community, we decided to make the entire overnight period viewable to curious individuals on their own home computers through a live-stream broadcasting from the Dance Complex studios.  The hope was that anyone that tuned in online might be interested enough to come view the festival's culminating concerts, therefore growing the number of new-to-dance viewers in the live audience.  A final facet of 24-Hour ChoreoFest's community goals; all of the profit made from ticket sales to the culminating concerts is given to a local youth-serving charity for performing arts programming.  

Since we are on the cusp of a second ChoreoFest, it's no surprise that the festival was a success in its first year!  Our goal, in years of 24-Hour ChoreoFest to come, is to keep stimulating creative process and community as they are equally important to this endeavor.  We hope that local choreographers and companies aren't scared away by the idea of working amongst their peers in a timed and transparent manner, and we hope to keep developing a steady flow of interested audience members who do not regularly attend arts events.  This year's second 24-Hour ChoreoFest features 
Monkeyhouse, Ryan P. Casey, Paradise Lost, Intimations Dance, Impact Dance Company, and Luminarium Dance.  

Please visit www.luminariumdance.org/choreofest to watch the journey unfold and new work come together overnight.


Getting to Know Felipe Galganni

by Nicole Harris
Earlier this summer I spent some time in New York City working on Tap It Out with the amazing Lynn Schwab and the folks from the American Tap Dance Foundation.  While there I had the opportunity to get to know an brilliant young tap dancer and a all around fabulous guy, Felipe Galganni.  Since moving to New York from Brazil three years ago Felipe has been busy teaching, choreographing and performing all over the city.  While in town I got to see the premiere of his piece "Reverie in Rio", performed by Felipe himself alongside Lynn Schwab and Chikako Iwahori and singer Jackeline Ribas.  Here is a little conversation with Felipe about his work, moving to the United States and dancing in a foreign language!  Also, Felipe celebrated a birthday last week, so make sure you send your love!

 NH:  Who are your favorite choreographers (tap & otherwise)?
Chikako Iwahori, Brenda Bufalino, Max Pollak, Lynn Schwab, Michelle Dorrance. I love Bob Fosse.

I know that meeting Heather Cornell had a big influence on your life.  What is it about her work/dancing that speaks to you?
FG:  I met Heather in January of 2010. I am from São Paulo (BRA), and she was teaching a workshop in Rio, so I flew to take that.  São Paulo is not the most tap dancing city in Brazil so every time someone came to the area I tried to go.

When I met Heather I instantly felt in love. Her kindness, humbleness and the way she talked about tap dance and music inspired me so much that I decided I wanted to take her summer intensive, here in NY.  I think it's a Master thing, this power of inspiring people! Two months before I come I decided to sell my car and move to USA. Here I am since then.

I know you grew up studying other forms of dance besides tap.  Do you still take any of those classes?  Do you feel like having studied jazz etc. has had an effect on your tap dancing?
FG:  I grew up dancing samba like most Brazilians. And academically taking jazz, later tap, ballet and contemporary. I was never a strong ballet dancer but I feel it was very important to develop some basics,  like turns and balance. And even to "awake" the upper body as a tapper.
You recently told me a wonderful story about your first pair of tap shoes and your subsequent first tap class.  Can you share that story here?

Sure! When I was 14 years old I got some money from my family as a birthday gift. So I decided it was finally my chance to buy a pair of tap shoes. I was always putting them on to "practice" and even to do performances at school. Without having ever taken class at that point.  
So when I was 15, I finally find a school that I could go by myself and take a tap class. I remember it was not very affordable for my family, but they know I really wanted to do that. So they supported me.  When I got in class the teacher came to me and asked: "have you ever tap danced before?" and I said , very confidently "YES!"..."oh, so please show me your favorite step"... And I started my very unique style of tap. Later on she told me that it was the most funny experience she have ever had.  Her name is Valeria Petroni, and she was an amazing instructor for those first tap years. I am very thankful of all I learned from her.

NH:  Can you tell me about the tap community in Brazil compared to New York?
FG:  As I mentioned before, I am from São Paulo and the tap dancing scene is pretty small in there. I was always traveling to another cities, or bringing people to teach me and my tap friends.  New York tap community is big!  Just so you have and idea, in Brazil I had situations that I had to explain to people what tap dance is.  The community is growing though. Go Brazil !!!
NH:  It has now been three years since you moved from Brazil and in talking to you you would think you'd been speaking English for much of your life.  Can you tell me about teaching in the early years in New York when your English was much shakier?  What sort of tools did you use to communicate in moments where language failed you?
FG:  I remember the fist class I taught here in US. It was for Lynn Schwab at Steps. It's hard when you have to communicate in a foreign language to native people, and explain stuff that you're so use to in your first language. It was a little frustrating, but I had to work on that, not been afraid to say the words wrong, and also asking the students in the class and learning from them.

But honestly my English still pretty shaky, and sometimes language does failed on me. Like in today's class the only way I found to tell my students what I wanted to express was "imagine you're wearing a baby diaper" and then later on I said "put your diapers on"... and of course by the end of the class I reinforced: "Don't forget your diaper for next week". LOL. It's fun!


Happy Birthday Joshua Legg!

by Nicole Harris

During my (very) brief stint in college I overlapped with then grad student Joshua Legg and when I left school and began this crazy Monkeyhouse adventure, he too happened to move to Boston.  He spent some time here dancing for Snappy Dance and working with Harvard before moving on to bigger and better things.  When we got back in touch again after many years through fellow Shenandoah University alum Tina Fratello (thank you, Facebook) I was amazed but not surprised to see how many wonderful things Josh has been up to in the past decade or so.

Josh is the author of Introduction to Modern Dance Techniques (October 2011: Princeton Book Company), a master teacher who has taught all over the world, an accomplished choreographer and a frequent contributor to various dance magazines.  Oh yeah, and he worked at the White House.

You can read more about Joshua including some of his articles here.  And be sure to wish him a happy birthday too!

What a wonderful month to be born!  Happy day to:

Bril BarrettJillian GrunnahDerek RolandKelly Long, Laurie Sales, Ed Ryan, Drew Jameson, Jilly RichcrickJoshua Legg, Alexandra Caporale, Courtney BlanchMichael JacksonMadonnaFelipe Galganni and James Gant!

Want to be on the birthday list?  Click on Update Profile/Email address at the bottom of this email and let us know when your birthday is!


Upcoming Events!

by Aisha Cruise

If you've been fretting about how to spend your precious final summer weekends, rejoice! There's tons of dance happening just outside Boston this August, so if you've been meaning to plan a weekend get-away, feel free to use these events as impetus to get out for the end of summer!

Sun, August 11 & Sun, August 25 @ 2pm

JMBT School Open House
Presented by Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre
LOCAL! Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre (400 Harvard Street Cambridge, MA)
Join the Jose Mateo Ballet Theater for an afternoon of free trial classes for children ages 3-9 and adult beginners, refreshments, and a chance to win tickets to José Mateo Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker! 

August 11, 12, 14, 17 & 21
NYC FRINGE Festival, 14th Street Y
The impetus for Peter Pan and Stardust Dances comes from an interest in magic, joy and wonderment.  Featuring a variety of dances from the Eva Dean repetoire, they will also be premiering a new piece, Peter Pan (Shadow), set to music from David Khane's Peter Pan Ballet score.  Eva Dean and David Khane plan to work together on a full production of his Peter Pan Ballet, so consider this an advance-preview of magical larger work. If you were looking for an excuse to visit the north east's other major city, this is it!

August 15-18 
Bethlehem, NH
This incredible dance festival is a grass-roots effort, designed to nourish and support community by 1) creating a space for contemporary dance to take root, develop and flourish, and 2) encouraging a conversation to develop between artist and audience.  Check out the web page for an adorable video and more information, and then plan a day trip to Bethlehem, because these people are awesome.

Thurs, August 15 @ 8:00
Sat, August 17 @ 6:30
The Yard @ Chillmark, Martha's Vineyard
Doug Elkins (Fräulein Maria) returns to The Yard with a merry band of dancers, actors and clowns to explore the sharp intersections between physical comedy, choreography, flirtation and romance. Expect near misses of physical action and attraction with high flying kicks and turns eliciting a range of emotions. This new work will be paired with "Mo(or)town/Redux," an homage to Jose Limon's "Moor's Pavane" set to a top 40 sound score, first previewed at the Yard in 2011. Do you need a better reason to head to Martha's Vineyard?

Sat, August 17 @ 2:00 & 4:00
24-Hour ChoreoFest 2013
Presented by Luminarium Dance
LOCAL! Dance Complex (536 Mass Ave Cambridge, MA)
Monkeyhouse loves Luminarium!  Our own Nicole Harris will be participating in this year's choreofest, which promises to be every bit as wild and wonderful as last year! Dancers stay up all night building short pieces to perform the next day, and come up with some brilliant pressurized dance!

This year's Jacob's Pillow Festival is coming to a close, and they're going out with a bang!  I could seriously just list everything on the website for August because it all looks wonderful, but the final performances promise to be truly spectacular. 
Don't forget their free outdoor performances are continuing every week in August!

August 21-25
Jacob's Pillow, MA
"In honor of the 100th anniversary of the original iconoclastic dance The Rite of Spring, created by composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, America's most celebrated modern dance company re-stages Martha Graham's acclaimed interpretation." This is worth every minute of the 3 hour drive.
August 21-25
Jacob's Pillow, MA
"Kyle Abraham is a dancer, choreographer, Artistic Director of Abraham.in.Motion, and recipient of the 2012 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award.  In his newest work, Pavement, he layers urban and classical dance influences, bold imagery, and gripping, voluptuous movement."  Also totally worth the drive, and probably a good reason to take a long weekend in western Mass.  
August 24
Jacob's Pillow, MA
The penultimate performances by Martha Graham Dance Co. and Abraham.in.Motion will be followed by a Finale after party with the dancers, drinks and an awesome DJ.  Tickets range from $50-150 and will get you in to either show and the Finale party.  And fits perfectly into an extended weekend away.  (You're welcome)


Monkeyhouse Updates

Dear Friends:

Last month I heard from a number of you about how much you've been enjoying our newsletters.  Before we get to the fun stuff I have a quick order of business for all GMAIL USERS.  Many small businesses and non-profits have found that their emails are being automatically sorted into the "promotions" folder and therefore overlooked with this new email sorting system. Please take a minute to drag and drop a Monkeyhouse email into your "primary" email folder. This will ensure you continue to get Monkeyhouse goodness there every month.  Thanks!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled progamming:

Monkeyhouse is kicking things into high gear as we get ready for fall.  Karen, Aisha, Nikki and I are creating magic over at the Middlesex Fells along with guest choreographer Laila Fatimi and performers from Endicott College as we get ready for Dance in the Fells in October.  We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Two Roads once again in such a beautiful location!  Karen and I will be heading to New York City in September to perform in the DUMBO Dance Festival in Brooklyn.  After taking a year off from the CoolNY Dance Festival we are thrilled to be heading back to White Wave with some of the work created for Against the Odds.  Next week I will be locked in the Dance Complex with Shannon Sullivan for an overnight dance making adventure at CHOREOFEST with Luminarium Dance.  There are all sorts of other exciting artists involved, including our dear friend Ryan Casey, so don't miss out!

While we are busy with our preparations, I know that many of you are busy getting ready for back to school.  Whether you're heading to college for the first time, sending your kids to middle school, or simply taking advantage of back to school sales, we'd like you to remember Monkeyhouse as you do your online shopping.  Head over to Goodshop and a percentage of your sales will be donated to Monkeyhouse!  AND, there are all sorts of coupons for the places you're already shopping.  Target, Apple, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples...  It's all there!  Do a little good with your back to school shopping this year!

Much Love - 
Nicole and All Your Friends at Monkeyhouse


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