Word of the Day!

by Karen Krolak

As we get more in depth with the goings on at Monkeyhouse I thought it would be helpful to explain a little Monkeyhouse vocabulary and provide some insight into our programs.  Don't worry, there won't be a quiz!

MUSINGS - What is a Musing?  Where did they come from?  Who participates?

Musings are an ongoing series of workshops that provide a time, space, and dancers for choreographers to sketch out ideas. While some ideas may eventually get developed into a piece, this process is different from a rehearsal. 

In 2008, I dreamed up some dance phrases but I wasn't sure if or how to expand them into a piece. So I rented Green Street Studios and invited a group of dancers to meet with me. I emphasized that this was a time to play. No one would be required to remember choreography from week to week and there was no performance to prepare. I was surprised that about 6 dancers agreed to attend the first three Musings. None of my movement phrases from those sessions ever coalesced into a piece but the research process lead her to create a trio named ingeniculation which premiered at First Night. Caitlin Meehan also credits a comment that Jason shared at one of those early Musings with sparking her solo,a,b,c,d, none of the aboveIn addition all the dancers talked about how much they enjoyed having time to play without pressure. We knew that this was a Monkeyhouse innovation that we needed to cultivate. 

Monkeyhouse is the only company we know of that dedicates regular time to support this type of choreographic exploration. It has helped many of our younger dancers to gain the courage to try out their own choreographic ideas, and has become a useful way to discover whether new dancers or outside choreographers will be a good fit for our creative process. In recent years we have invited other dance companies to join our Musings which has promoted a spirit of collaboration within the Boston dance community, helped other dance artists to navigate creative obstacles, and energized our company. 

Often the Musings start with a question, such as "What are some ways that you can fall a across the floor as if you were falling through a deep hole?" "How can you get someone to up from the floor without touching her?" or "What happens when you send pairs of people out into the downtown Medford area with one person blindfolded and the other as their leader/guardian?" (Yes, that happened.) As we are gathering ideas for the site-specific piece at Endicott, for example, we have investigated questions about how a group shapes an individual or an individual shapes a group during our open Musings with the Endicott Dance Ensemble.

Have you got an idea you'd like us to Muse on?  Let us know!


Monkeyhouse is Celebrating Spring!

Boomtown Princess"Blue skies, smiling at me!  Nothing but blue skies do I see!"  

The lovely Ella Fitzgerald and I are celebrating this gloriously sunny start to April.  Don't worry though, Karen is all set with her umbrella for the spring showers that we all know are heading our way in the coming weeks.

We are full of celebrations around here and we are bursting at the seams with excitement! 
First, we are thrilled to introduce you to our newest choreographic interns from Natick High School: Deirdre Ross, Vicky Awkward and Marie Libbin. They will be working with us for almost 20 hours/week over the course of the next five weeks. Keep an eye out for more from them soon!

Next we are working on a SUPER TOP SECRET and AMAZINGLY EXCITING new project for the fall.  And unfortunately, that is all I can tell you at this moment but I promise, it is dance around your apartment like a crazy person kind of awesomeness.  We'll let you know as soon as everything is confirmed!

We have several new faces popping up around Monkeyhouse.  Brianna Unsworth Samantha Mullen, whom you met at Dance in the Fells back in October, can be found Musing with us from time to time on Saturdays.  And our dear friend Margaret Hagemeister has joined the board!  We're so excited to share the Monkeyhouse mission with new people!

Finally, with all this warmer weather heading our way we are hitting the streets! As part of our Misplaced/Displaced theme for the season we'll be collaborating with students from Endicott's Dance Ensemble to create a site specific performance in May.  We're looking forward to lots of outside Musings in preparation!

What are you doing to celebrate the return of blue skies?  Tell us all about it on Facebook!
Best-- Nicole and All your friends at Monkeyhouse


Congratulations to Lorraine Chapman & Green Street Studios!

by karen Krolak

One of the very first choreographers that I met when I moved back to Boston 17 years ago was Lorraine Chapman. When we were both selected for the first concert produced by the Choreographers' Group at Green Street Studios in Cambridge, she found time to grab coffee with me several times, something that made the local dance community seem far less intimidating to me. As I struggled to develop the soundscape for Mourning After/Ululation, she helped me to find an amazing sound designer, David Remedios. In the ensuing decades, our paths have criss-crossed numerous times as we danced in Nut/cracked, designed pieces for Dance in the Fells, or bumped into each other at performances. Her sublime mix of quirky humor and innate elegance always impresses me.

As I have been navigating through the process of mourning my family members, I have not attended as many dance concerts as I used to. But, when David Parker and the Bang Group's Head Over Heels popped up at the Oberon Theater a few weeks ago, I knew I had to see it. I was feeling self conscious and out of place after the show ended and then Lorraine approached me with her expressive arms outstretched for a hug. Within minutes she was trying to help Monkeyhouse find a space for a new home and offering observations on her own grieving processes. Her thoughtfulness helped to quell my discomfort and encouraged me to get up and reconnect with other dance artists in the room. As we said goodbye, she hinted that big changes were brewing over at Green Street Studios.

For those of you who don't know, Green Street Studios is one of the anchors of the Boston's dance scene and they have had a nail biting year of negotiations to stay in their current space. As Central Square has become more commercially viable, this nonprofit has wrestled to keep up with the rising rents. On several occasions in the last ten years, it has looked like the dance world might lose this precious resource. Green Street Studios has a special place in my heart both because it is the first place the I presented my choreography in Boston and because their space grant program introduced me to Monkeyhouse artists, Nikki Sao Pedro-Welch and Caitlin Meehan. You can only imagine how delighted I was to skim over some of my Facebook feed to discover that Green Street Studios has just signed a lease for another two years at their current location and that Lorraine has just been named the new Artistic Director!

It is a blustery, rainy afternoon here in Boston. Downtown thousands of people have gathered to remember the strength that our city demonstrated in wake of the 2013 marathon tragedy. I am thankful for this news about the resilience of my community here. Running a dance nonprofit is a marathon of endurance, determination, and blind love but it is easier when you are alongside others who inspire you.


Happy April Birthdays!

We'd like to wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to:
Laya Barak, Taylor Henry, Nikki Sao Pedro-Welch
Carson MurphyLeslie ArmstrongDavid ParkerMaud Arnold, Jaguar Bennett, Stephen Harris, Gaby Mervis, Susan Potters, 
Phinneas Baker, Audra Carabetta and Merce Cunningham

Want to learn more about one of these amazing folks?  Click their names!  If you want to see your name here just update your contact information on our mailing list to include your birthday.  We'll wish you a happy birthday on Facebook too!


Getting to know Brianne Scott!

by karen Krolak

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am intrigued by Philadelphia based dance company, MM2. On Sunday they launched their 2014 season entitled BREATH and I was lucky to steal a few minutes of Artistic Director, Brianne Scott's time as she prepared.

Photo by Bill Hebert…And all good things are yours 
Choreographer: Brianne Scott
MM2 studio rehearsal
karen Krolak: First off, congratulations on being named Artistic Director of MM2. How do you feel about your first season?
Brianne Scott: Thanks so much!!  Well I have been with the company for a few years now, dancing and choreographing. This is just my first year as Artistic Director, but it's going great so far!  I love being able to give my opinion on something I'm watching, and if that, in any way can help make someone's piece a little greater, it just makes my heart smile.

kK: I would love to know more about the creative process within MM2. How are choregraphers for each season selected? 
BS: We have 7 members of the company, and everyone choreographs their own piece.  We decided to do it a little differently this year, splitting the season into two seperate parts.  So there are 4 choreographers this first showing and 3 with a guest choreographer for the next.  There wasn't really a system for picking for was choreographing. We just decided amongst ourselves who was ready and willing to jump right into it.  

kK: Was the theme of BREATH something that was selected through a group process or did you select that? 
BS: The theme BREATH was decided between, MM2 founder, Steve Weisz, and I, with a finalization from the whole company after we pitched it to them. They were all on board for the idea!

kK: What appealed to you about BREATH as a theme for this season?
BS: Well going in, Steve and I knew we were looking for a broad-enough topic that all choreographers could utilize and each create a piece that would give the show variety. Breath is a huge part of movement and life in general, so why not create a whole show honoring it's importance? No one would get anywhere without it, and I feel it's sometimes taken for granted because it's given to us so easily

kK: So how does your piece, ‘…And all good things are yours’, grapple with the theme?
BS: My piece this season is mainly based off my own experiences in everyday life.  Learning that there are always going to be negative energies and negative people around you, but what you choose to pay attention to and take in for yourself really can change your mood and how you see things, and yourself, in life for yourself.  The roughly-12 minute long piece starts off pretty heavy, slowly getting more and more positive with each section.  Remembering to breathe through all this (like my main character shows) and remembering that those negative energies don't need to affect your day at all makes life a lot easier;...and all good things are yours... Ending with all dancers in bliss, I wanted the message to be positive showing that everyone can find their own personal, positive path in life. 

kK: Your title refers to the Swedish proverb: "Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours." How does that relate to your choreography?
BS: I had seen this Swedish proverb a while ago, before I even started choreographing this season and since then I have always tried to live by it.  I knew it was right for the title of my piece when I had finished choreographing and went back and watched the work as a whole.  It had been such an important small group of words to me, that I felt I needed to honor it in some way, therefore titling my piece the same.


Upcoming Events!

by Aisha Cruise

Saturdays in April @ 10-11:30AM
DANCE+ Series
presented by Luminarium
Armory, Somerville MA
Monkeyhouse Loves Luminarium! Check them out at Arts Armory for their engaging, family-friendly class each Saturday in April exploring weekly themes of dance intersecting other fields: Technology, Science, Music, and Light. Free and open to all ages!

Fri, April 11 @ 7:30 pm  & Sat, April 12 @ 8:00 pm
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
Institute of Contemporary Art (100 Northern Ave Boston, MA)
Performing the Boston premieres of Beyond the Edge of the Frame by Sidra Bell Kollide by Kyle Abraham o2Joy by Richard Siegal From Los Angeles, this young contemporary dance company is known for dynamic theatricality and refreshing abandon. With free pre-performance talks with dance critic Debra Cash 30 minutes prior to curtain in the ICA lobby and a free post-performance Q&A with the company Friday, April 11, these performances promise to be lively and engaging!

Friday, April 11 @ 8:00pm
Dance with Me
presented by Paradise Lost
Blackstone Community Center, Boston MA
Friends of Luminarium Dance, Paradise Lost: A Movement Collective is putting on their newest piece titled "Dance with Me" choreographed by Collective member Emily Caroline. Emailparadisemoves@gmail.com to reserve a seat! Admission is free!

Fri, April 18 & Sat. April 19 @ 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm
Mariah Steele/Quicksilver Dance
Simmons Hall at MIT (229 Vassar Street Cambridge, MA)
Monkeyhouse Loves Quicksilver Dance! Mariah Steele's dance company will present an ever-moving poem that evokes the uncertainty of an ever-changing world and the eternal evolution of community in The Constant Effort of Beginning; explore the hazy space of our inner lives in On The Threshold of Memory; and entrance you with a new dance/film collaboration with New York City-based video artist Sarah Outhwaite; and more favorites from the Quicksilver repertoire.

Fri, April 18 @ 7:00 pm & 8:00 pm
Movement at the Mills
Featuring Jessie Jeanne & Dancers and Reject Dance Theatre
Mills Gallery (551 Tremont Street Boston, MA)
Free and open to the public, come see dancers performing in an informal, gallery setting. A showcase of sorts for less formal dancer/ audience dynamics, this series is a perennial delight.

Sat, April 19 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Presented by Yuka Takahashi
Cambridge YMCA Theater, Cambridge, MA
Yuka Takahashi's Test Kitchen features several dancers and musicians that I've worked with in the past, including Sara June, Joe Burgio, Matt Samolis, and Steve Norton. Their particular brand of improvisational structures and collaborative dance theater ensures that there's never a dull moment in their performances. I can't wait to see what they've cooked up!

Sat, April 26 @ 8:00 pm & Sun, April 27 @ 5:30 pm
Prometheus Dance Elders Ensemble
The Dance Complex (536 Mass. Ave. Cambridge, MA)
Prometheus dance is a cornerstone of the Boston modern dance scene, and their work is consistently captivating. The Elders Ensemble makes their premier of Memory, a piece exploring the tricks, trials, and evolution of memory as we grow and age.

Fri, April 25 - Sun, May 11
Jose Mateo Ballet Theater
Sanctuary Theater, Harvard Square
Jose Mateo's 2013-2014 Dance season draws to a close as the summer begins.
Catch their final program New Eruptions in the intimate Sanctuary theater for a truly unique ballet experience.

Thu May 1st - Sun May 4th
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Presented by Celebrity Series
Citi Wang Theatre (270 Boston, MA)
I love Ailey. They made me want to be a dancer when I was a little girl. Go bring some dance magic into your life and catch the Chroma program on Thursday and Saturday night, or the Ailey/Ellington program on Thursday, Saturday matinee and Sunday.

Sun, May 4
Presented by MayFair
Harvard Square
Monkeyhouse loves the fearless women of Dance'n Feet and this season they are performing to a song by our favorite sock puppet rock band, Uncle Monsterface. Oh, and did we mention that this piece was choreographed by Monkeyhouse's Karen Krolak?

If the city is making you crazy, go and see some Ballet Outside Boston!
Thu, April 10 -Sat, April 12 @ 7pm & Sun, April 13 @ 2pm
Spring Repertory
Presented by Walnut Hill School for the Arts
At Perrin Theater - Keiter Center for the Performing Arts (12 Highland Street Natick, Massachusetts)
Come support the next generation of dancers at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts! Enjoy excepts from classical ballets like Swan Lake, La Bayadere, and Coppelia as well as world premieres of contemporary ballet, modern, and jazz pieces.

Friday, Apr 11 @ 7:30p
Presented by Providence Ballet Theater
The Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, Providence, RI
Please join Providence Ballet Theater for an original production of "The Magic Box", featuring original story and choreography by founder, Eva Marie Pacheco, an original score by Roger Seitz, and set and costume design by the students in "The Magic Box" studio class at Rhode Island School of Design. It's always exciting to check out brand new ballet, so if you're looking for fresh choreography in a classic framework, I'd check this out!

Moscow Festival Ballet is coming to New England!
Leading dancers from across Russia have forged under Radchenko's direction an exciting new company staging new productions of timeless classics such as Giselle, Don Quixote, Paquita and Carmen. Fully staged, with stunning sets and costumes, the Moscow Festival Ballet productions of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake are perfect for all ages, and present a wonderful opportunity to see Russian Ballet technique at its finest. Check out these shows in Worcester, MA and Portsmouth, NH!

Friday, Apr 18 @ 8:00pm
Sleeping Beauty
Hanover Theatre, Worcester, MA

Saturday, Apr 19 @ 7:30pm
Swan Lake
The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH


More Soon on MM2

MM2 Season Logo by Bill Hebert

by karen Krolak

If you happen to be hanging in Philadelphia today, could you stop by the Performance Garage to see MM2 kick off their 2014 season? After reading about the company on Thursday, I am absolutely itching to know more about their work. 

MM2 seems to have a similar mission to Monkeyhouse. For example, MM2 was created by Steven Weisz to provide "support, space and opportunities for dance artists, who wish to explore the choreographic process, in order to cultivate and introduce new work to new audiences." In addition, MM2 is artist-driven organization that "is also community-centered, recognizing the need to educate, advocate, support and promote artistic vitality in the region." I was so excited to discover another company that is focusing on developing choreographers that I immediately contacted Steven. Be on the lookout for an interview or two about the company this week. Until then feel free to hot foot it over to Philly.

MM2 Modern Dance Company opens its 2014 season, BREATH
with four new works by choreographers 
Jessica Bryan, Jennifer Laucella, Alison Liney and Brianne Scott
 on Sunday, April 6th, 2014 at 2:00pm 
at The Performance Garage, 
1515 Brandywine Street, 
Philadelphia, PA  19130. 
Tickets are $10 and available online at DanceBoxOffice.com or cash at the door.


Eva @ MOMA

by karen Krolak

Photo by Yi-Chun Wu, Performers George Hirsch, Kristin Hatleberg  Zoe Schieber
Monkeyhouse has truly enjoyed collaborating with Brooklyn based, Eva Dean Dance on oodles of projects over the last few years. Her workshop at the first Against the Odds festival was a huge hit with everyone in the company and sparked ideas for several of the pieces that we developed for the second festival. If you missed that workshop or are looking for another chance to play with Eva, she will be bringing her playful process to MOMA on Friday, April 18 as part of the MOMA Art Lab. Personally, I am tempted to try to finagle a way to get our incoming group of interns down to this workshop. Hmmmm.

At any rate, here are all the details you will need to join EVA DEAN DANCE's BOUNCE SURFING Extravaganza at MoMA! Dress comfortably! Wear clothing to move in.

 Admission: Free with Museum Admission (First Come, First Served)
 Location: Museum of Modern Art 11 W 53rd St New York, NY 10019 
 MOMA Art Lab located at The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building Education Classroom B, mezzanine 
 Date/Time: Friday, April 18th. 2014 Workshops at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm 
 DESCRIPTION: BOUNCE SURFING Extravaganza is coming to MoMA to join the MoMA Art Lab: Movement Series! Join us in this ocean inspired workshop led by Eva Dean. Family, friends, and movement lovers of all ages are encouraged to participate in this gentle 45-minute workshop. Participants will learn some of Eva Dean Dance's signature "Dolphin" movements using yoga balls as well as participate in a free spirited improvisational "Beach Party." This extravaganza is appropriate for ages 5 to 105, and anyone who loves motion by the ocean is encouraged to partake!

 For more information about Eva Dean Dance, visit www.evadeandance.org For more information about the workshop, visit http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/events/20771 


Captured by Kezia

sway by Kezia Fitzgerald featuring Kate Stevens
by karen Krolak

Hot dog! After contacting Kezia Fitzgerald yesterday about Dance for Saoirse!, she eagerly agreed to let Monkeyhouse share some of her photography here. This series of images just feels like springtime to me.

And given that Kwaq7aj' and I just took a stroll through Somerville where neither of us needed a jacket, one could almost dare to think that winter will soon be over. Oh, and speaking of things ending soon...folks only have 8.5 more hours to register to attend Dance for Saoirse. At the stroke of midnight, they have to close the guest list.
Jump for Joy by Kezia Fitzgerald featuring Tabitha Liversidge

Pointe by Kezia Fitzgerald featuring Tabitha Liversidge
Much like Arthur Fink,  Kezia's photos evoke the mood of the dancer's movements. I enjoy how the crisp staccato rhythm of the moments in her pictures contrasts the fluid line of intertwined limbs or overlapping costumes. If you glance too quickly, you could be fooled into thinking that there is a trio of performers. By translating choreography this way, viewers have an experience that isn't possible as an audience member.
rhythm by Kezia Fitzgerald featuring Tabitha Liversidge


Dance for Saoirse!

by karen Krolak 

Kezia and Saoirse

Although I have yet to meet her, Kezia Fitzgerald, a friend of Caitlin Meehan's from childhood continues to inspire me. When we began curating events for Against the Odds: Imperfect(ive) Experiments in 2012, we had planned to include a larger photography exhibit. Kezia was one of the photographers who applied and her time lapse images of dancers were thrilling. Knowing just snippets of her personal struggles, I was impressed that she was capturing moments of such ethereal vitality. I was saddened that we were not able to incorporate her photos into the festival when it was rescheduled but perhaps she will be willing to share some with us on this blog.

Kezia was a new mother when she discovered that she had cancer in 2011. A few months later her vivacious daughter, Saoirse, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a totally different form of cancer. While Kezia's cancer went into remission, Saoirse lost her battle with Neuroblastoma in December of that year. Saorise was just 18 months old. I can not fathom how devastating it must have been for her family to endure after that. Somehow though, they found the resolve to create the Fitzgerald Cancer Fund (FCF) to provide assistance and guidance to other families who receive a pediatric cancer diagnosis. 

Over lunch recently, Caitlin mentioned that Kezia and FCF are using dance to fund a clinical trial for a better, less toxic treatment for relapsed and refractory neuroblastoma patients. On April 5th, you can join her at the first annual Dance For Saoirse!, a 12 hour dance marathon at the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in South Boston, MA. There will be live music by local bands, dance performances by local dance schools and companies (Caitlin is rumored to be performing at 7:30!), a photo booth, origami folding, sweet treats, musical chairs, games, and much, much, more! People can still register now (but you need to do so by the stroke of midnight on April 3rd to attend) and teams can set their fundraising goals right on the event site, where supporters can donate directly to their team. For more information check out the foundation's website or their facebook page. 


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