Meet Against the Odds Artist, Kendra Henseler!

Six One Seven Dance Collective Artistic Director, Kendra Heithof Henseler was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest and now lives in New England where she serves as the primary choreographer for her Boston based dance company. With a commitment to create dances that reach out and touch the everyday dance audience; and dancers with diverse and professional training, her choreography has made quite and impact in New England. Kendra's choreography has been shown at the Boston University Dance Theater,Green Street Studios, The Center for Arts at the Armory, The American Dance Legacy Institute, The Dance Complex, The Mills Gallery, and Minneapolis' Red Hot Art Festival. Kendra has toured internationally in Trinidad and Tobago with Global Worship 

Movement and performed professionally with Sokolow Now!, Urbanity Dance Project, Dance Currents, Nautilus Music Theater, Trisha Brown at the ICA in Boston, Sara Smith, Kay Cummings, Linda Talcott Lee, Joe Chvala and Charles Moulton and interned with Black Label Movement of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her early training was under the direction of Kathryn Rose Reimler, Dorota Dannenbringof the Warsaw National Dance Company, The Omaha Ballet Theater and BalletMagnificat! of Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to teaching private lessons, Kendra teaches with the Cambridge Performance Project. She has served as faculty with the Boston Ballet, Minneapolis' Dance Arts Center and Ballare Teatro. Kendra holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota.When she's not creating dances, you can find her spending too much time with her stand mixer, taking photographs or talking to one of her four pets. 


Meet Against the Odds Artist, Janelle Gilchrist!

Ms. Gilchrist is a leader in the art of dance, holding many roles in her professional career, including those of dancer, teacher, choreographer, and community organizer. Originally from Stoneham, MA, Janelle developed her skills and expertise through studies at Harriet Hoctor Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, Broadway Theater Project, Concord Academy, and Dance Theater of Harlem, and earned her BFA in Dance at the University of Hartford, CT. 

Highlights of Ms. Gilchrist's professional career include company dancer in the following companies: Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, BalletRox, Island Moving Company, and Hartford Ballet. In addition, Janelle has performed with Legends in Concert, Celebrity Cruises, Anna Myer, and David Parker. She has also held small roles in several major movie productions, including ‘27 Dresses’, produced by 20th Century Fox in 2008 and ‘What’s your Number’ produced by Contrafilms in 2011. 

Constantly striving to take her skills and vision to new creative applications, Janelle has recently served as choreographer and casting director of two flash mob performances for Media Direct Productions, in Boston and Las Vegas. When in season, Janelle works as company manager for Balletrox and currently coordinates the BalletRox dance programs in Boston Public Schools. She also teaches dance at Tony Williams Dance Center, Step by Step in Waltham MA, and Angel Dance Troupe in Watham MA.

In March 2012, Janelle went with BalletRox to Riga, Latvia to perform and teach the Urban Nutcracker to Dzirnas Dance Troup. 

In addition to her professional pursuits, Janelle is a champion for the local dance community, working tirelessly to elevate dance appreciation and support for the arts


Meet Against the Odds Artist, Audra Carabetta!

Audra Carabetta holds an MFA in dance from Smith College and a BFA in dance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has been on faculty at Amherst College, Smith College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Bridgewater State College, Holy Cross College, Ballet Arts Center of Winchester and Acton School of Ballet. Audra has performed with choreographers and companies such as: Lorraine Chapman The Company, Caitlin Corbett Dance Company, Brian Crabtree, Daniel McCusker, Marcus Schulkind, Weber Dance and the Ken Pierce Baroque Dance Company. Her dancing has taken her to places such as Holland, London, Canada and New York City. Choreographically, Audra has received attention via awards and grants, and her work has been presented at various venues, some of which include: Green Street Studios, The Dance Complex, The Dance Place of Newburyport, Bowdoin College, The College of the Holy Cross, Smith College, Tufts University, The American College Dance Festival, the Massachusetts Dance Festival, The Virginia Beach Performing Arts Center, The Massachusetts Dance Festival and The Hatch Performing Arts Series in New York City.


Meet Against the Odds Artist, Ryan Casey!


Against the Odds Moment of the Week

by Sarah Friswell

Monkeyhouse has been very busy preparing for Against the Odds. One thing that has kept us challenged and excited is working with large exercise balls. What do we do with them, you ask? Well, any number of things; rolling, flipping, balancing, carrying, bouncing.  It took me a while to get the ball to behave, but as you can see, we are now the best of friends!


Epoch Tales with Mariah Steele/Quicksilver Dance

by Nicole Sao Pedro-Welch

This was my first time working with Quicksilver Dance and it was such a great experience! It was challenging, interesting, and most of all, fun!

Mariah Steele, artistic director of Quicksliver Dance was granted a studio dance residency at the Boston Center For The Arts for the months of October and November of 2012. During this time she created a new work for the Showcase along with revisiting other works she created from past years.

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the creation of hernew work titled: "Epoch Tales."  This piece followed the development of life on earth, imagining how the world may have moved in different evolutionary epochs. 

With this concept in mind, Mariah started rehearsals with structured improvisations using specific animals for inspiration.  Myself and other dancers in the group including, Naoko Brown, Amy Caine, Wayne Ong, and Mariah Steele first studied animals by watching films of comb jelly, jellyfish, crabs, frogs/lizards/amphibians, spiders, and primates to then improvising dance movement from what we watched. Mariah filmed our improvisations for the first few weeks before setting the actual work.

This process was extremely interesting and challenging. It was hard at times to embody the different animals but having to take on these specific animals definitely brought forth unique movement. There were a few moments while watching videos of ourselves improvising we sometimes found it difficult to recreate what we had once did as if the dancers in the video were somebody else, which was funny!

One portion of the process that stood out to me most was that one of the dancers, named Naoko Brown had been injured prior to rehearsals and could not put any weight on her left leg for the entire process or show. Mariah could have chosen not to use her in the piece, but instead she created movement sequences and a solo for her that used her limitation beautifully!

I thoroughly enjoyed the learning and creation process of this piece because it was a collaborative effort and Mariah was extremely encouraging and supportive as well as organized and clear about what she wanted.

I am looking forward to performing this piece again at MIT in April of 2013.


Two Slightly Late (But Still Fabulous) Palindromes

by Nicole Harris

Barry shared these two palindromes with me in the middle of December.  Even though they are a bit late for their topics, I want to take a minute to share them with you.  I hope you enjoy!

On 12/21/12:

When I hear people talk about the upcoming Mayan apocalypse, my childhood flashes before my eyes. I'm not thinking that the end is near, I'm just remembering the regionally distinctive utterances of my South Jersey playmates: "Give me back that baseball. It's Mayan!"

Well, if the world does end on the 21st, two days before my 56th birthday, I'll always be a palindromic age, which isn't such a bad deal. After all, an apocalyptic event can't be reversed. Or can it?

Time: RIP. 
Oh, shall a man? 
It's '12, no? 
Evil, all. 
It's Mayan, huh? 
Nay, am still alive on 21st, in a mall. 
Ah, shop! 
I remit.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Duncan

On Santa:


Oh. Oh. Oh, a hero (N, S, W, E) freed. 
I wonder: It's an eve. One. 
Nod, NORAD? A radar on. 
Done? No.
Even as tired now (I, deer), few snore. Ha! 
Ho ho ho!

Pace room, can I? 
Saw a T. Nast Santa. 
Was in a C. Moore cap.

Tense yet 
Safe boss. 
It's a Claus, 
Usual cast. 
Is so, be fast: 
Eyes net.

Harem? Missus. 
I tire. Her? 
It is us. Simmer. Ah.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Duncan


Do You Know Aisha?

by Courtney Wagner 

2012 brought some new faces to Monkeyhouse joining us for musings and as guest artists, among them Aisha Cruse. Aisha is originally from Northport, Long Island but now resides in Cambridge.  She moved to Boston the day she graduated from Bennington College, and works at an accounting form and is an art model, while sometimes stage managing productions at local colleges and theaters.  As a French and Theater major she says she "generally finds [herself] involved in theater" while maintaining a link to dance, by taking as many classes as possible in college and now joining us for lots of musings and events this past year.  She says there are a lot of memorable Monkeyhouse moments from the last year but the one that sticks out is our group photo shoot at JK Photo's Photo Booth from Your Just Desserts.  Thanks Aisha! Here's to many more exciting events in this new year!


Happy Birthday Shannon Sullivan!

by David Makransky 


Monkeyhouse wishes a hearty "Happy Birthday" to Shannon Sullivan! The resident Tap specialist at Impulse Dance Center in Natick and independent teacher at
Springstep, Shannon has instructed and inspired countless young students with her unique combination of dance and music experience. Since the age of three she has been dancing through life, studying at the New Jersey School of Ballet and continuing her training with such masters as Julia Boynton, Brenda Bufalino, Barbara Duffy, Josh Hilberman, Pamela Raff and Lynn Schwab. But what separates Shannon from other choreographers and gives her dancing such a distinct flair is the depth of her knowledge of rhythm and music theory. Shannon earned her Master's Degree in music education from Gordon College, with a focus on trumpet. This formal musical training provides her work with an invaluable foundation; her tap students acquire refined senses of rhythm and musicality, and her own dancing reflects a rare musical subtlety and creativity.

Shannon worked for years as the artistic director for Impulse's TAProject, a superbly talented tap ensemble and one of Shannon's many connections to Monkeyhouse.  TAProject has been featured in several Monkeyhouse performances, helping to connect the greater Boston community to ever more creative and youthful tap choreography.  Shannon herself has also performed extensively around Boston. Her perpetually inventive and accessible work even inspired Monkeyhouse's own Karen Krolak to begin studying tap dance. 

Monkeyhouse continues to be astounded by Shannon's devotion to her art, shown through performance but especially through instruction. Shannon demonstrates the
beauty and musicality of tap dance to all her students, inspiring true passion within them and making choreography approachable and exciting to a multitude of new dancers every

Happy Birthday, Shannon!

And a special Happy Birthday to our other January birthdays!
Jonathan LeeSabrina Schwartz, Kelsey Griffith, Heather Pagella Gant, Andy JacobsEve Agush, Archibald Edwards, Sarah Style, Taye DiggsFrank SinatraEtta JamesMaria Tallchief, Gwen Verdon, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


Be A Monkeyhouse Ambassador!

As you know, Monkeyhouse's goal is to support as many artists as possible.  However, we can't do this alone.  Please take a minute to tell someone about Monkeyhouse's IndieGoGo Campaign today!  We have so far to go and so many amazing artists are counting on us, and YOU!   


Against the Odds Is Coming!

After taking some time off this fall, everyone here at Monkeyhouse is thrilled to be getting back to work and preparing for Against the Odds.  We have been busy building all sorts of new work by some of your favorite Monkeyhouse choreographers and a few new ones too!  We will also be joined by many local and traveling choreographers and artists including Ryan P. Casey, Janelle Gilchrist, Audra Carabetta, Dancin' Feet, Kendra Hensler, Courtney Blanch, Lacey Sasso, Eva Dean, TAProject. 

As the festival approaches our newsletters and blog posts will be filled with interviews, articles and fun facts about the artists and pieces involved in the festival, so keep an eye out!  But first, here are the basic facts:

The festival will include four performances on Thursday, March 21st through Sunday, March 24th.  Each event will also have a post-show spork (conversation with artists, choreographers and most importantly, YOU!) and other fun events before and after including an appearance from the Moooving for Monkeyhouse Photo Booth by JK Photo, some tasty treats from our friends over a JP Licks and much more!  Every night will be different, so you can bring different friends every night!

Don't forget, Against the Odds can't happen without you, so please take some time to be a Monkeyhouse Ambassador!  Tell a friend, post it on Facebook, forward this email to your coworkers, chat us up while you wait in line for your morning coffee!  There are so many ways you can pitch in that wont cost you a dime and Monkeyhouse needs your help!

We can't wait to see you!

Against the Odds
Thursday, March 21st - Sunday, March 24th
98 George P. Hassett Dr., Medford, MA 02145



by Caitlin Meehan
Last year, I built a piece whose inspiration began as a habit during rehearsals. I had been noodling around with some movement over last summer, specifically arm movement. Having long limbs myself, I was interested in finding all of the different ways that my arms could move, and how they could generate choreography.
Then, I found an opportunity to experiment and to put these ideas into practice. After Nicole had a series of strokes in 2011, she was forced to adhere to strict physical restrictions during recovery. Technically speaking, she was not allowed to "dance." However, choreographers are nothing if not resourceful, and find the loopholes I did. Simply stated, I used Nicole's movement restrictions as a choreographic assignment: each "no" became a rule I had to adhere to.
These restrictions consisted of: no bending past 45 degrees (at first, later it was 90), no tilting the head backward (keep the neck in line with the spine,) no jumping, turning, or jarring movement, and no pressure on the head.
Said my newfound arm-related creativity: "no problem." I realized that I could work within these "rules" if I avoided a lot of traveling movement. I myself once had a surgical procedure that involved a lot of stillness to achieve recovery- but it occurred to me that the entire time, I was able to play various games on the Nintendo Wii. These were played only with the arms, which ignited a lightbulb, and we were off to the races!
I began my movement research lying on the floor, moving my arms around in any way that occurred to me and video recording my findings. Then, I progressed to sitting upright, to see what more my arms could accomplish with 360 degrees of space around my body. Then, naturally I progressed to standing. This was where it was truly necessary to remember the rules and stitch together only movements that passed the checklist.
This movement research led me to the final structure of the piece: it would begin on the floor, progress to sitting, and then to standing. As I worked with Nicole, the progression of movement came to represent her recovery from the largest stroke. In the piece, her arms represent her thoughts during this period of time. Seemingly acting on their own in the beginning, she eventually masters them and gains control of them by the time she has progressed to her feet, and in the end gladly follows them from the space.
I use the 10 positions of Luigi, a jazz dance master, as a vocabulary that repeats and varies itself throughout the piece. These positions have a sequence, which is repeated by the arms as though they are known facts; at other times certain positions appear on their own or out of sequence. This helps to illustrate the concept of repeating facts to oneself to remind or reassure; sometimes they come in single thoughts or as a string of memories or knowledge.
Layered over these concepts is the sound: the first part is a soundscape by Monkeyhouse friend and supporter Aaron Ximm, which helps to evoke confusion. The second part comes from a beautiful recording by Seven's Not Enough, an a cappella group made up of former students of Nicole's from Natick High School. Their rendition of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen supports the movement and ties in with  both the mood of the piece and the performer herself.


Monkeyhouse Loves TAProject!

by Rosie Steinberg

TAProject is a tap company based out of Impulse Dance Center in Natick founded by Monkeyhouse's Nicole Harris. Talented young dancers tap their hearts out in rehearsals with choreographers Shannon Sullivan and Sarah Friswell weekly. When asked why she loves TAProject, member Sarah McEachern replied, "I love TAProject because it is not only a place of self expression, but also one filled with great tappers whom I can learn a great deal from." This collaborative environment is one that fosters an incredible performance level. These high school students feel comfortable enough to push themselves towards mastering new steps and routines, and it shows.

As an alumni of TAProject, choreographer Sarah Friswell appreciated it as a student because "
It taught me how to learn tap choreography quickly and made me a better improvisational artist". Now as one of the instructors, she hopes to teach her students these valuable skills. This well rounded program also teaches dancers to appreciate and learn from the work of others. Company member Annie Lessard combines her love for tap and hip hop dancing by studying the work of Shawn Byfield. This open and creative mindset is making way for innovative and exciting new work, like the company's upcoming piece with Natick High School's a capella group Seven's Not Enough. Monkeyhouse has all the praise in the world for this program and the effect it is having on the next generation of dancers. TAProject's talent and commitment to this art form goes well beyond their years, as one can see in a short clip from one of their rehearsals below. For more come to Monkeyhouse's Against the Odds Festival , March 21st-24th, where they will be performing!


Upcoming Events in January!

by Aisha Cruise

It's a new year which means time to try something new!  Check out these amazing opportunities to get involved, do some dancing of your own, or lend your applause and audience expertise!  

Jan 6 - Jose Mateo - Open House, free trial classes for kids and adults and a Youthworks performance

Jan 6 - CAAB group - Free Movement Festival - Offering a day of free intro classes in Quincy

Jan 8 - Contra Dancing with Live music at MIT- check the calendar for more workshops and social dances

Jan 12 - Savion Glover- Tap Dance - Savion Glover is a living legend. Go and see his jaw dropping foot work through the Celebrity Series!

Jan 15 - Jose Mateo - "Behind the Mirror" Tour of the Sanctuary Theater - This sounds quite amazing actually, and if you're interested in "behind the scenes" activities, I'd check this out.

Jan 17 and 18 - Trajal Harrell's (M)imosa/Twenty Looks - ICA - Mature audiences only for this very complex bit of dance theater, but tickets are way cheap for an ica show at $20 general admission.

Jan 24 - This is Tango Now's "Identitad" - Regent Theater, Arlington - The show tells the story of a puppet, who is abruptly liberated from her strings.  A meditation on freedom and identity set to the emotionally charged choreography of Tango.

Jan 26 - Franklin Park Zoo - Celebrate the lunar new year! - cultural dancing at the zoo!  What more could anyone want in life?  Promises to be family friendly fun.

Jan 31-Feb 3 - Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal - ICA - I love shows at the ICA and you should too! Particularly when  the show in question is beautiful contemporary ballet.

If you're looking to take workshops or classes on a drop in basis, I strongly recommend checking out the January Workshops at the Dance Complex in Central Square!


Related Posts with Thumbnails