My Second Week with Monkeyhouse

Week two of my internship with Monkeyhouse began with working on my resumé. Nicole and Karen helped me build a new resumé, explaining that some things that I didn't think were important to be in it, are actually key to my resumé. For instance, when talking about the many years of dance of my dance education, they explained that talking about different dance conventions can show future employers that I was interested and willing to go out into different communities to learn from renowned dance icons. Some of which include So You Think Dance winners, and Maud Arnold, from Turn It Up Dance Convention, and well-know celebrity dancers and choreographers from The Pulse: On Tour.

Throughout the week, I worked with a piece of writing from my sophomore english class. The assignment being to write a language autobiography, which could be defined as anything; Speaking a different language, talking about a favorite book and how it change who you are, or like me, how dance is another way I speak, and am able to communicate. This piece of writing is something that I am extremely proud of, because it not only talks about dance, but how dance helped me grow and find myself as a person suffering from an abusive relationship. As I prefer to keep the topic between my instructors and I, I will (try to) explain how I took dance and this piece of writing and create different movement phrases from them. Karen started this assignment off by having me take three verb sentences from my language autobiography, and creating three movement phrases from them. These three phrases I weaved into one, long phrase, which I refer to as "the verb phrase." The next day, Nicole had me create three separate phrases from my writing. I had to choose a sentence from the beginning, the middle (the apex,) and the end.

  • Beginning: "We dance to be truthful with our innermost thoughts, and to express them not through words, but through movement."
  • Middle/Apex: I prefer to keep this line private.
  • End: "Dance through all of the pain, and in your blood; But most importantly, dance when you're free."

From here, I was given the task to put the 'verb phrase' in where I thought it made "the most sense" with the beginning, middle, and end phrases. I was able to change the order of the phrases in a way they made the most sense to me, that order being beginning phrase, middle phrase, verb phrase, and then the end phrase. 

Nicole wanted to play with the idea of using different emotions with my phrase. We wanted to find different ways that I could do certain movements to make my original phrase more interesting. We began with the idea of yelling, where I took the articulation of my fingers and created moments of being off balance. Next, I had to do the phrase as if I was pleading. I discovered that I moments of pause, and moments of reaching to my full extent added a new kind of draw and appeal to my phrase. Playfulness was the hardest to work with, as the original phrase is almost melancholy, taking a completely opposite emotion was hard to work with. From that, I did take the use of my plié can add a nice sort of 'bounciness' to certain movements. Lastly, we used the idea of 'whispering loudly,' which I enjoyed the most, because of the use of elongation, and being able to start my movements small, and gradually make them as big as I desired.


Gwendolyn The Graceful Pig: The Use of Text in Dance

Gwendolyn the Graceful Pig, written by David Ira Rottenberg, is the story about a pig that wants to learn how to dance. The story follows Gwendolyn and her friend Omar, a pig that wants to play football, and their journey to gain the grace and beauty they need in order to be successful. After being invited to multiple libraries and schools to read his book, Rottenberg thought that he could make his book more successful by inviting a dance company to dance, act, and simply tell the story as he read. The Connecting Point Dance Company took the task at hand, and created an fun, entertaining, and interactive story for the children. 

This year has been my second year of performing “Gwen,” and I was lucky enough to play the clumsy protagonist herself, joined by Melanie Joseph, the lead of Omar. Being able to play the main character of a story, even if is requires a pig nose and ears, is a lot of fun, especially when you know that what you are doing is making the audience, filled with big eyes and adventurous hearts, laugh and smile. Gwendoline and Omar start off clumsy and awkward, but gain their elegance and grace after a day at the studio with a group of ballet dancers, taught by their teacher, Natasha, "the greatest ballet teacher in 'ze' world!" (I do advise you to go back and read that last quote with a Russian accent; It will make a lot more sense.) The clumsiness of the two pigs is the biggest hit with the children, the second being when Gwendolyn comes out to perform her final solo, the children astonished by her beautiful, “bright, [red] tutu.”

Throughout my internship, I have been using text to create movement phrases. Specifically using poetry, I take lines, words, the sound of the poet’s voice, etc, to create and rework movement phrases that I create. In similar ways, as the performers of “Gwen,” we use lines from the book, specific words, and the way David Ira Rottenberg talks as cues on how to act to fit the story. I have found it extremely interesting how one can take literature, and text, and recreate it with the body, specifically through dance. For instance, with “Gwen,” we as the performers are simply acting out the story as it is told. In comparison, I have been using poetry by taking actual words and using different sounds, shapes, letters, moods, and emotions to create various visual representations of what the poem states, or what the poet says. When working with the Emily Dickinson poem, I used one specific line to create a phrase using letters used in that specific line. The line I chose, "One does not need a chamber to be haunted," I used my body to create the letters O, D, N, H, T, and B. Similarly, when working with Sabrina Benaim's poem, "Explaining My Depression to My Mother," the word mom is used repetitively. Using the word "mom," I created five different variations of an original phrase, which originated from using the letters m, o, and m, over and over again.


My First Week on Internship

My first day at Monkeyhouse started off not at all how I expected. Nicole asked me to generate a list of things I would need to budget if I were to hold a dance performance. Of course I came up with the typical list of venue, lighting, sound, costumes, etc; Where Nicole then had me take that list and generate all of the fine details about each bullet point. Let’s just say that the list doubled in size pretty quickly! From there I generated questions that I could ask if I were to go and try to rent a space. Upon learning that I would be going into Boston on Friday to do so, this simple exercise fueled my excitement.
Throughout the week, Karen and Nicole had me work on several different movement phrases. Starting on day 1, I worked with Emily Dickinson’s poem, “One Does Not Need a Chamber to be Haunted.” I took one line from the poem, and created a movement phrase, using letters from the chosen line as inspiration. For the next day, I was asked to record that phrase in two different settings, and bring in a poem that I enjoyed. I brought in a slam poem written by Sabrina Benaim called “Explaining My Depression to My Mother.” I have watched this poem on Youtube multiple times, and on several occasions. I wanted to use this poem because of truthful and harsh reality it has when explaining what it is like to suffer from depression. Karen had me create multiple sets of movement phrases, choosing one word from the poem that is quite repetitive; mom. I worked with different paces, size, planes, and instrumentation to create a set of phrases that I can say I am quite proud of.
My last day of the week was quite an experience. I traveled to South Station by myself to meet Karen and Nicole to go look at venues for rehearsal and performance space. I don’t think it would have been the full South Station experience if a creepy old man had not come over to talk to me, but don’t worry; I certainly got the full experience! Nicole and I visited three locations, all of which were very different from each other. The Dance Complex was wide, open space, with a comforting atmosphere, and looked like your typical performance location. The space where the performances were held was a large "black box." Nothing to grab your attention away from the dancers performing. Although there were a lot of stairs, (!) I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the building, and getting a sneak peek at the ballet class. Green Street Studios was quite the opposite of the Dance Complex. Quite the "hole in the wall" location, Green Street brought an entirely different vibe to the dance world. The space was occupied so it was hard to get a feel of the size of the studios. I can respectively say that Green Street would be a wonderful rehearsal space, as the location feels built for that solely. I do have to say that the Multicultural Art Center definitely caught my attention. Although on the pricier side, I do see why it is a popular venue to hold weddings, with its beautiful ceilings, and uplifting sense of surrounding. I do feel as if this location is more than appropriate for any dance rehearsal/production. The art galleries were just the cherry on top!


Choreo Cup Q&A - an internal interview

People often claim that they would like to sit inside of Karen Krolak's mind to see how a piece develops. So as we launch into a year long process to create a new work, we asked her to interview herself about the project. 

Choreo Cup 
a Monkeyhouse experiment combining ceramics, choreography and community engagement 

karen Krolak: So what is up with the cups?
kK For most of the last two decades I have harbored a minor obsession with handmade pottery.

kK: I have seen the inside of your cabinets and there is nothing minor about this addiction..
kK: At any rate, I was trolling the internet a few years ago, researching some of my favorite potters when I discovered the artstream nomadic gallery.  As I flipped around the site ecstatically (think about all the  portable joy of a food truck, the sassiness of an air stream trailer and some mouthwateringly outstanding ceramic wares), I happened upon the library link.

kK: You also have more than enough books. I have lugged those boxes up and down far too many sets of stairs.
kK: Nope, not that kind of library but I should let the website explain, "Cups are checked out for one week. During this time you may use the cup for whatever liquid or function you like, provided that you document its use with at least one image. You may also send in other forms of creative response, such as a painting, video, piece of writing or music – or ceramics! No limits. These images and creative works will become part of the Library and will be archived with the cup."
kK: Knowing your gift for racking up library fines, I fear where this is going but please continue.
kK: Luckily, for us the artstream is rarely close enough for me to check out pieces. However, I began mulling over the idea of how one could document a person's interactions with a piece of pottery choreographically. In fact, I began bringing bowls into Musings in November of 2013 and loved some of the movement phrases that they provoked.

kK: November 2013...it is now March 2015. What delayed the project?
kK: Oh, that is a long story about a broken bowl, a kintsugi catastrophe, and a medical mess. Perhaps I can share that in another post. An exciting idea developed during the delay - what if we could include lots of people in the Monkeyhouse community?

kK: Oh sweet Sherlock, what do these people have to do? What if they don't want to dance for you?
kK: Never fear, all they have to do is host this darling little cup that we picked up at Fire Opal in Brookline. The owners of Fire Opal are wonderful and big dance supporters. They have been instrumental in feeding my pottery habit over the years. Both Nicole and I are huge fans of Lollipop pottery's Monster collection and thought this would be a fun piece to send out on an adventure for a year.

kK: Focus! What do you mean host the cup?
kK: Oh right. People can sign up to have the cup for as long as they would like. They can bring it to meals or out to museums or just use it drink their morning coffee. Show it a good time and all we ask it that you document your time with it somehow in the journal that travels with it.

kK: Document it how?
kK: However you want...haiku, list, poem, palindrome, story, photo, song, sonnet, drawing, or dance phrase. We will collect the journal in March of 2016 to use as the inspiration for a new piece.

kK: I am dubious about how all of this will work but how do people sign up to host?
kK: People can sign up by sending an email to monkeyhouselovesme@gmail.com and we will put them on the list. When the person before them is ready to transfer the cup, you will get an email and set up a time to meet. Hopefully, you can even share a few minutes to get to know the last host.

kK: What if someone breaks the cup?
kK: Don't worry, just let us know. We will get it repaired.

kK: Hmmm...I am not ready to commit to this kind of responsibility. Can I just follow along for a bit?
kK: Yes, of course. The project has its own Instagram page and we will keep our Facebook feed updated too.



April Events!

At long, long last, the winter has ended, and spring has (tentatively) sprung.  Celebrate the receding snow drifts by venturing out into the world and seeing some awesome dance!

Fri, April 10 & Sat, April 11 @ 8:00 pm
Choose Your Own Mythology
Featuring Mariah Steele/Quicksilver Dance
At Simmons Hall at MIT (229 Vassar Street Cambridge, MA)
Monkeyhouse loves Mariah Steele and Quicksilver Dance! Celebrating their fifth anniversary season, this evening length performance of six dances and one dance on film explores interdependent relationships, and how classic and modern myths shape the way we see the world.  The event is free, but make sure to request reservations through quicksilverdance@gmail.com.

Fri, April 10 @ 10:30 pm
Boston Ballet School Story Hour
Presented by Boston Ballet School
At Newton Free Library (220 Homer Street Homer, MA) 
Featuring stories and dances from classical ballets, this interactive story hour with the Boston Ballet is a perfect way to introduce children to the world of ballet.  And I'm in love with their tag-line, "Dance me a story!" Be sure to click the link, the website also lists events on April 17 at the Peabody Institute Library, and on April 24 at the American Girl Store in the Natick Mall.

Fri, April 10 & Sat, April 11 @ 8:00 pm
Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
At The Institute of Contemporary Art (100 Northern Ave Boston, MA)
RUBBERBANDance Group co-directors Victor Quijada and Anna Plamondon draw from their diverse dance history to create graceful, spontaneous, gravity-defying dance. From the CRASHarts website: "Their latest production, Empirical Quotient, explores human relationships with six exceptional dancers whose backgrounds range from classical, contemporary, and urban dance to circus arts." If you make it to the Friday show, stick around after the performance for a moderated Q&A with the company!

Fri, April 10 - Sat, April 18 @ 8:00 pm
Sun, April 12 @ 3:00 pm
DUETTI Dance Program Spring Performances 2015
Presented by OFA Dance Program
At Harvard Dance Center (60 Garden St Cambridge, MA)
$10, $5 student/senior
The Harvard Dance Program presents an evening of new and repertory duets, featuring work in many styles from many choreographers: Brian Brooks, Michelle Dorrance, William Forsythe, Francesca Harper, Jill Johnson, and Crystal Pite.  If you couldn't make it to Michelle Dorrance's  ICA show in March, this is an excellent opportunity to see her work. This performance is like a choreographer sampler pack and at $10 a ticket, more than worth the price of admission.  If you're interested in the dancers learning process, there will be a talkback after the Sunday matinee show with the students.

Wed, April 22 - Sat, April 25 @ 7:30 pm
Fri, April 24 @ 12:00 pm
Sat, April 25 @ 3:00 pm 
Look, Look Again / Dance Installation
Featuring Ipswich Moving Company & East End Artists : Presented by Ipswich Moving Company
At Ipswich Moving Company Studio (2 Cogswell Street Ipswich, MA)
$25, $20 student/senior
The Ipswich Moving Company transforms their studio into an interactive gallery, where dancers work with their own reflections, suspend from canvas slings high above the audience, and draw inspiration from the photographs of Alexander Calder and Nicholas Nixon. If you're looking for a reason to get away from Boston for an evening (or a day, they have two afternoon performances), I can't think of anything better than new and innovative dance!

Sat, April 25 @ 8:00 pm
Sun, April 26 @ 2:00 pm 
Featuring Cambridge Youth Dance Co : Presented by CYDPP
At Boston University Dance Theater (Buick St Boston, MA)
Described simply as "A series of dances", Divertissement is the spring performance for the Cambridge Youth Dance Co, founded and directed by Deborah Mason.  The company's focus is on community outreach and providing access to dance and dance education to youth across Cambridge and Boston.  I'm all about supporting local dance and young dancers, and I'm interested to see what they do for this performance. 

April Birthdays


Carson Murphy, Leslie Armstrong, David Parker, Maud Arnold, Jaguar Bennett, Stephen Harris, Gaby Mervis, Susan Potters, Phinneas Baker, Audra Carabetta and Merce Cunningham


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