My Favorite Things

by Courtney Wagner
Months later, we are still hearing about people's favorite moments from the Against the Odds festival. This one came from company member Courtney Wagner!

My favorite part of ATO this year was getting to perform the blindfold duet with Caitlin. After working on the idea and some of the material for over a year and a half it was great to see it come together for performance. Since we first started work with the blindfolds in September 2011, I have loved being able to explore the possibilities I feel they offer. There is something about working with the blindfold that I find relaxing and very freeing. Not being able to see where I am or what I am doing helped me let go and be less afraid to just explore and create, especially when I had a partner in Caitlin or Nikki to guide me. Caitlin and I developed a nice chemistry through rehearsing the piece, and I think we were able to keep the choreographed movement fresh while still being able to improvise. Because I couldn't see, even well rehearsed and choreographed phrases had the potential to be altered in performance, and I liked the edge this gave to my performance. I also liked hearing the feedback and response from audience members about how it looked, especially with our costumes and Jason's lighting (which I'm sure was fantastic!). We got a lot of positive feedback and I am excited to be able to perform it again someday!


Heart & Sole Application!

by Ryan P. Casey 

Do you have a special duet that you've been itching to perform? A favorite dance partner you want to work with? A musician you've wanted to dance alongside? Here is your chance!

In honor of Valentine's Day 2014, I am producing "Heart & Sole," an evening of dynamic duets at Arlington's historic Regent Theatre - and I want YOU to be a part of it! Applications are now open through the month of October to participate in this special evening of talented twosomes.Jazz, tap, hip hop, ballet, contemporary, modern, ballroom, classical Indian, Latin fusion -- performers of any and ALL styles are welcome and encouraged to apply to perform! Professional and sophisticated pre-professional dancers in the Boston area can submit applications and do NOT have to be affiliated with a dance company.

In the spirit of events like Luminarium Dance's 24 Hour ChoreoFest (in which both myself and Monkeyhouse were fortunate to participate this summer), I want to use "Heart & Sole" as a way to bring together a diversity of Boston dancers and showcase the engaging, entertaining, and varied dance community we have here in the Bay State. It is my every wish to make lasting friends and memories through this performance while showing off some of the best dance talent in the area!

If you want to get involved, check out the http://heartsoledance.weebly.com/ official website and apply today - or contact me and learn how you can help out. Be creative! A duet can feature two dancers of different styles; a dancer and a musician; one dancer playing two different roles.... The possibilities are boundless! Let's see the passion for dance that lives in your heart & in your soles!


Summer Re-CAP

by Danny Foner

Hello, Monkeyhouse!

As a high school student returning to school, I'm faced with the same question countless times: how was your summer? Well...

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to attend the CAP21 Pre-College Musical Theater and College Audition Prep program. This musical theater program is offered to rising juniors, seniors, and college freshmen at the CAP21 conservatory in New York City. For five weeks, I, along with eighty others, attended classes on singing, dancing, and acting for eight hours a day, five days a week. By the end of the first week, I realized that the program is described as an "intensive" for a reason. However, this time was also some of the most rewarding of my life. By the end of the program, I felt as if the five weeks had lasted both a lifetime and a nanosecond.

Though many factors contributed to this experience, one group of incredible individuals cannot be overlooked: my teachers. Across all nine of my classes, the constant ingredient was the dedication and expertise of the instructors. Every single teacher had years, sometimes decades of experience on Broadway, national tours, television, or with other professional work. Not only was the talent of the teachers world-class, their ability to imbue students with a rich depth of knowledge was unbelievable. The quality of instruction opened my eyes to countless new techniques, philosophies, and skills in the fields of singing, acting, and dancing.

The excellent instruction was fully matched by a sterling curriculum. In acting, improv, and monologues class, we learned to find and trust our instincts as actors, as well as mental and physical techniques for creating a three-dimensional, real character. In vocal technique, vocal performance, and audition technique classes, we learned the basis of proper singing technique, and applied these skills (as well as our acting skills) to the performance of a song. In tap, ballet, and jazz classes, we were both supported and challenged to learn new skills and apply them to demanding routines. For instance, my tap teacher, Geoff, who just so happened to be the dance captain for the recent Mary Poppins musical, taught us the original choreography to "Steppin' Time," a number in which jolly chimney sweeps tap dance across the rooftops of London. At CAP21, amazing teachers combine with an outstanding array of classes to produce an unforgettable experience.

However, the classes themselves only tell part of the story. This program was also an incredible opportunity to meet amazing new friends and witness some great performing art. Hailing from Argentina to New York to California and everywhere in between, we were an eclectic mix of students. Nonetheless, our shared love of theater was the glue that forged many friendships. Although I only knew them for a few weeks, I feel as if I've known some of these friends for years. Every single classmate I met was kind, friendly, and extremely talented. I have many fond memories of my friends over the summer, including some of the theater we saw. I'm not sure if you're aware, but there's a small thoroughfare in New York City that is known for putting on a good show once in a while. You probably haven't heard of it, it's called Broadway. With cheap student-rush tickets in hand, we sampled many of the local shows, including the hilarious Potted Potter, the witty First Date: the Musical, and Fuerza Bruta, an immersive piece of performance art that is as close to indescribable as I've ever seen.

All in all, I guess you could say I had a pretty good summer. If you have a passion for musical theater, I highly recommend this program (if you couldn't tell already). Now it's your turn: how was your summer? Are you excited for fall, or wistfully pining for the sunny days of August? Let me know via Facebook!


Good Things!


*  Andrew Mudge's film, The Forgotten Kingdom, won the jury award for Best Narrative Feature at the Port Townsend Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Cambridge Film Festival! 

*  Andy Jacobs, a former student and recent contributor to the blog, can now be found immortalized in the pages of Dance Magazine!  Congratulations Andy and Mazzini Dance Collective! 

*  Welcome to the world J.J. Pillen and congratulations Vanessa, John and Nell!
*Congratulations to the Medford Arts Council! They have been doing such fantastic work that the city just voted to add $13,000 dollars to their funding.

*  Longtime supporter and friend Heather Pagella Gant will be moving back to the US with her beautiful family this month!  Can't wait to see you!

*  Congratulations to Tyler Cantanella of Paradise Lost for being selected for Green Street Studios' New Works Program in November

*  Congratulations to Dorothy Christian (a.k.a. Aunt Dot) on her two beautiful new great-grandchildren, Caleb and Grace!

*  Intern David Makransky was recently cast as Jesus in BC's production of Godspell.  Talk about a great way to kick off your freshman year in college!  Congrats, David!  We can't wait to see it!

*  Interns Marie Libbin and Danny Foner have been cast as Winnifred and Dauntless in Natick High School's production of Once Upon a Mattress!  (I'm telling you, these interns are busy little buggers!)  Congratulations, guys! 
What are your good things this month?  Share with us HERE! 


Happy Birthday Jerome Robbins!

by Caitlin Meehan 

Jerome Robbins, American theatre producer, director, and choreographer was born on October 11th, 1918. He would have been 95 this year! Though Mr. Robbins passed away in 1998, he had a long and eventful career.

He is known best for his broadway and ballet choreography, though he also directed films as well as some television. His main body of work ranges from classical ballet to contemporary musical theatre (West Side Story, anyone??) Even if you didn't realize it, you have probably seen or even learned some of his choreography!

More than 60 ballets were created by Mr. Robbins, including Fancy Free and 
Afternoon of a Faun, both of which are currently among the repertory of Boston Ballet- and which I have had the pleasure of seeing live! His Broadway creations include 
On the Town (which further develops the story of Fancy Free,) Billion Dollar Baby, High Button Shoes, The King and I, Gypsy, Peter Pan, Miss Liberty, Call Me Madam, Fiddler on the Roof, and of course West Side Story, for which he won 2 Academy Awards for the film version. Also among his accolades are 4 Tony awards, 5 Donaldson awards, 2 Emmy awards, the Screen Directors' Guild Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle award. Not too shabby!

Jerome Robbins' work is still celebrated and relevant today, as the world's premiere ballet companies present it to audiences far and wide, and the musicals containing his work run on Broadway.
Happy Birthday Mr. Robbins!

A very Happy Birthday to the rest of our October birthdays, Julie AndrewsEdward Villella, Jimmy SlydeMahatma Gandhi, Erik BrunhChubby CheckerJason Samuels SmithKathryn Dunkel, Jean-Francois Millet, Nicole Harris, Doris Humphrey, Meera Jo Smith, Karen KrolakSarah Bernhardt, Michael Sao Pedro, Rita Hayworth, Giuseppe Verdi, Fayard NicholasJoan Green, Ben Vereen, Celia CruzPeter Martins, LuAnn Pagella, Najeeb Terazzi, Tina FratelloMax StoneParker Hall, and Michael Cox!


Dance In The Fells Is BACK!

by Wanda Strukus

Dance in the Fells Wright's Pond 
 Saturday October 12th 1-4 pm
at Wright's Pond, Elm Street in Medford MA.  
For more information and directions, please visit tworoads.org and like Dance in the Fells on Facebook.

More Wild Adventures in Site-Specific Dancing? Yes, Please!
Dance in the Fells Returns to Medford

As we put the final touches on Dance in the Fells Wright's Pond, our second festival of outdoor, site-specific dance, we're once again thrilled and humbled by our intrepid and wildly innovative choreographers who are making bold and wonderful dances for this year's location: Monkeyhouse, Brian Crabtree, Alli Ross, and the trio of Kara Fili, Tara Weaver, and Carolyn Lewenberg.  We've watched them embrace the landscape, immersing themselves in water, sand, and leaves, and running, rolling, wading, and swinging through all the woods has to offer them. We're just days away from bringing in an audience out to see these amazing dances, and our thoughts are almost entirely on that audience's experience: how we welcome them into our site-specific playground and encourage them to be as intrepid, bold, and playful as our choreographers.

The first Dance in the Fells brought over 400 people into the woods to watch contemporary dance.  They  came by car and shuttle-bus, by foot and by mountain bike.  They came alone or they brought their children and their parents, their partners and their dogs.  As they walked from site to site, they encountered people they hadn't seen in years, and spoke to strangers they might never see again.  They watched one dance or six dances and loved some and didn't love others and talked to each other about these dances and what they meant here among the trees, water, rocks, and foliage, and across this 1000 acre stretch of woods spread an overwhelming sense of connection and community.

Of course, for some of the audience, a minority (fortunately), the warm and fuzzy feelings of community were overridden by feelings of anxiety - anxiety about getting lost in the woods, about not being able to find the next site, about missing something that other people were seeing, about bugs and spiders, and what happens if a dancer tries to interact with them, and where are the toilets anyway?  All the things you don'thave to worry about when you watch dance in a traditional concert venue instead of on a hiking trail.  There's that old saying, "you can't please everyone," and of course, you can't.  And site-specific dance in the woods isn't everyone's cup of tea - it's challenging, unpredictable, and you need sturdy shoes. But deep down, we want it to be everyone's cup of tea. We want everyone to love dance and the woods as much as we do, and to love the extraordinary adventure that our choreographers have created for them.  How do we invite an audience on this kind of journey?

Well, we experiment! This year's site, Wright's Pond in Medford, MA, is gorgeous, but significantly smaller than our previous site - the dances are spread out around the parameter of this pretty pond, and although the terrain changes from leafy path, to beach, to gravel path, to rock outcropping. it's no more than a ¼ mile walk to see all four of them. The location is half wild-and-rocky woods (The Fells) and half beloved (and nicely-groomed) community park, so many people are familiar with the landscape and its history of community use - swimming, fishing, hiking, building sandcastles, and just watching the sun go down. There are real bathrooms, a food truck, and a program with notes from the curators and the choreographers. There are volunteers from the local high school and signs to help people get from one dance to another. There are benches and picnic tables. The presence of these amenities make the site very different from our first festival. Are we getting soft? We don't think so. We used to be afraid of giving away too much, of helping the audience too much, of letting anything interfere with the raw encounter between dance and nature. But now we know, no matter how user-friendly we try to make Dance in the Fells, it's going to be a wild and unpredictable adventure. There will be moments of community and moments of anxiety. There will be great beauty, and probably a bug or two if it's warm enough. There will be someone who's afraid of getting lost in the woods and someone who will be disappointed if they don't get lost, even if just for a few minutes. And there will be beautiful Wright's Pond, turning golden in the afternoon light, geese honking overhead, leaves crackling underneath our feet, and the sounds of a viola and an accordion as we gather to watch these beautiful dances unfold. Please join us on this journey - we can't wait for you to see this!

Wanda Strukus is co-founder of Two Roads Performance Projects with Kyna Hamill and co-produces Dance in the Fells
 Two Roads supports the creation of public art and site-specific and environmentally based performance. 


Upcoming Events!

by Aisha Cruise

We have loved being able to share so many events in Boston, New York and around the globe featuring our friends, events we wish we could attend and artists we believe deserve our attention.  If you're looking for the events where you'll actually SEE Monkeyhouse, keep an eye out for specially marked events.  (Often, Monkeyhouse events are dressed all in orange so they stand out.) 

If you've got an event you'd like to see featured here and on our Facebook page then submit it to me today by filling out this form!

October 4- 27
Jose Mateo Ballet Theater
The Sanctuary Theater, Harvard Square
Departing from the decorative, fairy-tale narratives of traditional ballet, these Mateo works will rivet and transport you to the darker depths of the human psyche. Don't miss the season's first premiere, sure to continue to stretch the breadth of the company's unique repertory.
Thursday, Oct 10 - Saturday, Oct 12 @ 7:30
SundayOct 13 @ 2
David Parker & The Bang Group
West End Theater, NYC
If you can get away for a night or two, we encourage you to see Ryan Casey, Monkeyhouse favorite and Spork Award recipient, on stage at the West End Theater in New York.  In an evening of diverse dance, Ryan will be showcasing his work alongside Dylan Baker, Sara Hook, 10 Hairy Legs, and Catherine Tharin.

October 10 @ 7:00
October 11 & 12 @ 8:00
Presented by Arts Emerson
Cutler Majestic Theater, Boston
The description gives me chills.  The show promises to be beautiful and heart breaking. "A poetic piece that blurs the boundaries between artistic disciplines, Kiss & Cry brings together a diverse group of Belgian artists to create this sweeping, romantic work. A woman near the end of her life reminisces and recounts her greatest loves, starting with her first and truest: a boy whose hand she touched for a few seconds on a crowded train when she was 12 years old. Hands visually portray these main characters with a beautifully engaging sensual presence, moving around a set of miniatures with absolute precision. In this blend of film, dance, text and theatre, the audience witnesses a film screened and simultaneously made in front of their eyes."

Friday, Oct 18 @ 7:30
SaturdayOct 19 @ 8:00
SundayOct 20 @ 3:00 
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts and ICA/Boston
Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston Harbor
I love dance at the ICA!  Karole Armitage was dubbed the "punk ballerina" in the '80s and, more recently, was nominated for a Tony Award for her choreography for the Broadway musical Hair. Her renowned, boundary-pushing company Armitage Gone! Dance performs Rave, a celebratory work that features 26 dancers painted in bright colors from head to toe and Ligeti Essays, a poetic journey through a series of dance dreamscapes. Come early for a free talk with Dance critic Debra Cash at 30 minutes to curtain, or stay after on Fridayand Saturday for a post-performance talk with the company.

October 24 - November 3
Boston Ballet
The first full scale ballet of the season, Florence Clerc's adaptation of Marius Petipa's La Bayadere, transports the audience to India, to recount the tragic tale of the love between beautiful temple dancer Nikiya and the warrior Solar.  

Friday, Oct 25 & Saturday, Oct 26 @ 8:00
Second Nature
Cambridge Dance Company
Julie Ince Thompson Theater @ the Dance Complex, Central Square
Cambridge Dance Company celebrates its second season with pieces from the sultry to the sassy, the introspective to the intense. Second Nature features an energetic and eclectic compilation of Jazz, Contemporary and Hip Hop dance. Experience premiere works as well as dances from the company's expanded repertoire, including work by guest artist Ryan Casey!

Tuesday, Oct 29th - Saturday, Nov 2nd
Kegwin + Company
The Joyce Theatre
Help Larry Kegwin + Company celebrate their 10th Anniversary season and check out their first work, Mattress Suite!  Also, read more below about how you can participate in their newest project!


Reversible Review of Secrets & Motion

Barry Duncan has become an avid dance enthusiast since he began collaborating with Monkeyhouse. We are thrilled when he participates in our performance packs and are always eager to see the palindromes he produces in response to the concerts. His reversible reviews often capture the subjective and visceral experience of watching choreography. Monkeyhouse thinks that they add an exciting layer to dance writing and so have offered to publish them as an ongoing feature of our blog. And, don't worry if you missed Luminarium's Secrets & Motion at the Armory, you can still catch it at Boston University Dance Theater on November 1 & 2. For more info, click here.

by Barry Duncan

I ran
I keep
I peek

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Duncan


My Favorite Things!

by Marie Libbin

Months later, we are still hearing about people's favorite moments from the Against the Odds festival. This one came from one of our interns!

Photo by JK Photo
It's difficult to choose my favorite Against the Odds moment, simply because each performance had a completely different dynamic than anything I'd ever seen. Rather than just focusing on technique and clarity, these performers also added a unique sense of originality and creativity into their numbers. However, if I had to pick one favorite moment, it would be the solo Caitlin Meehan set on Nicole. My eyes immediately filled with tears, as I watched her own the room and dance so beautifully. Nicole is one of the strongest people I know, and is such an inspiration to myself as well as many other artists. She is living proof that it is possible to work through obstacles and accomplish your goals if you just put your mind to it. Against the Odds was filled with inspirational performers, supportive audience members, and a common love for the arts, and ended up being a successful and beautiful weekend that I was honored to be apart of


Luminarium meets Time Lapse Dance

Jody Sperling 
Monkeyhouse loves connecting people within the dance community as well as to the art of choreography. As some of you may remember, Monkeyhouse helped host Jody Sperling of New York based TIme Lapse Dance when she performed at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge several years ago. In addition to leading a talkback after her concert, we helped publicize the event, opened the show, arranged transportation for her in the city and invited her to stay with Jason and I. It was a wonderful opportunity to be a bridge between the NYC and Boston dance communities. I was thrilled when I heard that UMASS Amherst is presenting Time Lapse Dance from and Boston's Luminarium together this week. When I spoke to Merli and Kim from Luminarium about the project, they said that they were eager to meet Jody. So I jumped at the chance to introduce them via email and suggested that they share their conversation with our blog. Enjoy! - karen 

Kimberleigh Holman & Merli Guerra: What was your first experience with Loie Fuller's style?  
Jody Sperling: In 1997, the Library of Congress celebrated the centennial of its Jefferson Building with an evening of dances reminiscent of the 1890s. Elizabeth Aldrich, the choreographer of that event, decided to make a “Butterfly Dance” à la Loïe for me. She fashioned a costume with huge pink silk wings, a black dress and a green skull cap with antennae. I had such fun sweeping, with my 14-feet wingspan, into the Library's rotunda to the tune of Wagner's “Ride of the Valkyries” played by a live 18-piece brass band. It was a blast! Up until that solo I was pretty much a post-modern, contact-y, roll-on-the floor kind of dancer.

K&M: What drew you Fuller's work, and how did you decide to base your own work on interpreting, reconstructing and exploring those iconic visual elements?

JS: The experience of doing the “Butterfly” was so great that I wanted to try it again. The thing that has kept me interested all these years is the kinesthetic thrill of extending so far into space. You are larger than life and that is powerful, intoxicating. When I'm performing, I have the very clear sensation of being connected to forces outside myself and of making moving 3D sculptures that relate to these forces, i.e. the architectural space, the music, the rotation of the earth and heavenly bodies.

With the fabric you can really create a strong visual impact. When I was a kid, people thought that I would be a visual artist, not a dancer. And in a way, this medium fulfills my need to make visual patterns as much as my desire to move.  There are so many possibilities for working with moving fabric, light, shadow and projections that I've never gotten bored and I feel there is so much more to explore.

K&M: We read about the Principles of Time Lapse Dance on your website; fractal pathways, whirling, using fabric.  What is the most difficult aspect of the company's technique to master, and how long does it generally take to learn how to work with the fabric?

JS: Over the years I developed a very specific personal movement practice to help keep me fit and able to do this work. One challenge has been adapting this practice for the company and boiling it down to the essentials for students.

When you work with the Loie capes, you have to think of the costume as a prosthesis, as an extension of your own body. You have to expand your awareness and understand your movement pathways very clearly. An imprecise thought will lead to a tangled action.
The experience accumulates over time and the dancers become more adept at handling the silk in unpredictable situations, i.e. wind. The silk is like an animal, you have to tame it, drive it, but you also have to give it freedom to move. If you force it too hard it can rebel or be mischievous.

The hardest thing we do as a company is sustained patterned spinning. It takes a while to build a tolerance for spinning so you don't get dizzy or nauseated. And it takes extreme precision for the dancers to able to make group patterns in specific rhythms while they whirl. A further challenge is keeping your bearings under the glare of stage lights. Our newest piece has an 8 minute section that is almost continuous whirling and it is really hard! 

K&M: Both your company and ours have a focus on utilizing lighting to creatively accentuate the work onstage. Can you speak to your artistic choices through lighting?

JS: I work very closely with David Ferri, my lighting designer. We are lucky that he runs the Frances Daly Fergusson Theater at Vassar so we can often develop new work there with lighting as an integral part of the choreography.

For me, the music inspires the lighting. I've been inspired by the synaesthetic concepts of Kandinsky, and also Loie of course, who sensed correspondences between sound and color. For ''Debussy Soirée," one of my signature Loie-style solos David and I went into a studio with 6 color scrollers and “choreographed” the lights to the music before I even made the dance. 

Fuller has this theory of “color harmony” that she spells out in her memoirs. Basically, the way an orchestra might have a single instrument carry a melody and use other instruments to harmonize with that melody, so could a single thematic color (say green), be harmonized by supporting hues (say pink, orange, blue, etc.). I always try to construct the lighting in this way, thinking about harmonizing the colors with each other as well as the music, dance and costuming. 

K&M: Does your company have a favorite piece to perform? What makes it special/more enjoyable for you all to present?

JS: I'm most proud of "Turbulence" (2011) which is danced by the full company of six women. With this piece I wanted to take the Loie idiom and make something fresh out of it, something with big full-bodied dancing. The score by Quentin Chiappetta is very complicated rhythmically with shifting meters and layers of percussion mixed with electronics. I feel like “Turbulence” gives Loie a nod, but truly comes from me, the dancers and our time.

Thursday, October 3 at 7:30pm 
University of Massachusetts, Amherst; The Fine Arts Concert Hall
151 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA 01003

General Admission $35, $30 and $15
Five College/GCC/STCC Students/Youth 17 & under $10

*On-site preconcert talk at 6:45pm


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