September Events!

by Aisha Cruse

It's September, the start of the school year, and the warm-up for the 2015-2016 entertainment calendar. So get ready, because the arts are in session!

Thu & Fri, September 3 & 4 @ 7:30 pm 
TWA: JAE Presents DBR, Lenelle Moise and Jean Appolon
Featuring Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Lenelle Moïse & Jean Appolon : Presented by Jean Appolon Expressions
At Boston Center for the Arts - Black Box Theatre (539 Tremont Street Boston, MA)
Twa, which means "three" in Haitian Creole, will independently showcase Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Lenelle Moïse and Jean Appolon, some of the most innovative Haitian American artists of their generation. Featuring new work by Jean Appolon's Boston-based company set to music composed by Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) as well as a performance by JAE's Teen Intensive students.  Also featuring independent performances by traveling performance poet and award-winning playwright Lenelle Moïse, and acclaimed musician and composer DBR.

Fri & Sat, September 11 & 12 @ 8:00 pm 
JEANNE, the story of a woman
Featuring Contrapose Dance and Ensemble Warhol : Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel and Contrapose Dance
At Boston University Dance Theater (915 Commonwealth Ave Boston, Massachusetts)
$20/ $14 student & senior
This is an hour long excerpt from a full length opera by Mark Warhol and James Swindell, featuring choreography by Junichi Fukuda and music by the Boston String Quartet. From the website: "Opera singers Anna Ward (soprano) and Patrick Massey (tenor), along with Contrapose dancers Nina Brindamour, Danielle Davidson, and Magdalena Gyftopoulos, will portray a modern day tale of birth, labor, death … a story of wisdom that comes with age and of innocence that only youth can claim as their own." 

Fri, September 18 @ 8:00 pm
Indian Ocean Live In Concert
Featuring Indian Ocean : Presented by AID MIT and MIT Sangam
At MIT Kresge Auditorium (48 Massachusettes Avenue Cambridge, MA)
$75/ $50/ $30/ $20 with a student ID
This is actually a straight-up music concert, but even though seats are assigned, it seems like the kind of show you watch on your feet. From the website: "Formed in the early 90s, Indian Ocean has spearheaded the Indian rock scene and is one of India’s few politically conscious bands. A cult band in its own right, the group has amalgamated Indian folk music with Western rock. Culling their lyrics from a variety of languages, including Hindi, Kashmiri, Bengali, Sanskrit and even Aramaic, their music ranges from rocking political anthems to meditative spiritual ballads."

Fri & Sat, September 18 & 19 @ 6 pm
2015 US Championship and Provincetown Dance Trophy
Presented by Kalin Mitov
At Provincetown Town Hall, Provincetown MA

Thinking about an end-of-summer escape to Ptown? Check out these two same-sex partner Ballroom Dance Tournaments. The goal of these tournaments is inclusiveness, along with all the flashy costumes, thrilling footwork and incredible grace of ballroom dance. And what with the Supreme Court decision, audience and competitors alike have a little extra reason to cheer this year.

This September, we've got two incredible arts festivals happening at locations all over Boston three weekends in a row. Looking to do some dancing? Don't worry. We've got you covered.

Wed - Sat, September 16 - 19 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Sun, September 20 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Let's Dance Boston
Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston
At Rose Kennedy Greenway (185 Kneeland Street Boston, MA)
I'm so excited for this I might have bounced up and down in my seat a little while writing this post. Each night, on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, there will be a two hour dance party with live music in a particular style (salsa, swing, disco) preceded by a 45 minute free dance class taught by area professionals. Wednesday is Latin Dance, Thursday is Swing, Friday is Disco, Saturday is Salsa, and Sunday afternoon is a return to golden-era Swing. All classes will be conducted on a specially erected dance floor just for the occasion. I'm going every night.

Fri - Sun, September 25-27 @ 8:15 am - 10:15 pm
Fri - Sun, October 2-4 @ 8:15 am - 10:15 pm
ArtWeek Boston
Presented by Local Artists and Arts Organizations
At Various (Multiple Boston, MA)
Varies by event, most under $25
I want to tell you about everything that is happening for this festival but there is so much going on that I literally can't. Go to the website and check out the calendar, there is just so much to see and do.  There are a ton of kid friendly events, including this amazing thing where the marquis on the citi Shubert and the Wang Theaters will be showing work by children in the Boston Public schools. Free and low-cost concerts abound. Go to the website, I'm sure there is at least one thing you'll want to see.


ChoreoFest Interview: Ryan Casey!

by Nicole Harris

We're only 8 days away from ChoreoFest, the one and only 24-hour dance festival! Today we bring you the next installment of our ChoreoFest choreographer interviews, a chat with incredible tap dancer Ryan P. Casey!

Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Ryan Casey: I think it was the realization that I had something to say – that I, too, wanted to make something of my own and put it out there for others to see and hear. 

Nicole: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
Ryan: How we’re going to forge ahead when we’re really tired and hit the wall, so to speak. It’s hard to be creative when you’re exhausted!

Nicole: Have you participated in ChoreoFest before? If so, what is your favorite memory of that experience? What advice do you have for new ChoreoFest choreographers? Are there things you hope to do differently this time?
Ryan: This is my second time doing ChoreoFest, and I’m definitely keeping in mind all the lessons I learned from before (2013). My company and I had a lot of fun, but we struggled to agree on anything. Our theme was “wishes,” and we experimented with – and ultimately discarded – many different ideas before finally deciding on a wishing well. But that wasn’t until 1 a.m. – some companies were already done by then! I learned that I needed to be a stronger leader/director for my troupe and make executive decisions for us all. This year, we’re definitely going to decide on a concept much sooner so that we can spend more time on actual choreography rather than toying with potential ideas.

Nicole: Since this is a very controlled creative space (in terms of time and topic) where do you see yourself starting when you get in the space?
Ryan: I work best when I have a fairly concrete idea of what’s happening, so I have to know what the scenario is, or who the characters are, or what the music is, etc. From there, my thoughts can blossom around it but I need that initial foundation to build upon. I suspect that we’ll brainstorm some possibilities for our chosen theme and consider what will best serve us as percussive dancers, and then create a concept or character idea from there.

Nicole: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
Ryan: I always want my dancers to be part of the process. I typically come in with the concept and the music, and sometimes some or a lot of the choreography, but I always want input – on steps, spacing, anything – from whomever I’m working with. The creative process is inherently collaborative, so why not make it explicitly so? I hire people not just because they are great dancers, but because they are great thinkers – they can bring more ideas to the table, so to speak, and make for a richer experience. The more invested they are in the creation, the more invested they will be in the performance – the better the show will be.
Even though my company is called Ryan P. Casey & Dancers, that is not at all reflective of a hierarchy or a “me vs. them” scenario. Frankly, I never wanted my company to be named as such and have always been vaguely skeptical of similarly named troupes. It always sounds to me like “Ryan Casey & Some Other People” or “The Ryan Casey Show.” I remember reading an article in which Betsi Graves described how she came to name her company Urbanity Dance rather than Betsi Graves & Company. That still speaks volumes to me.

Nicole: Knowing that Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru", what things do you hope she can help with in the overnight process?

Ryan: I think Karen will be great for those moments when I’m wondering, “What am I not thinking of right now?” I expect she’ll be able to offer ideas that will send me down an intellectual avenue I won’t have even thought of yet!

Nicole: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
Ryan: I loved working for Michelle Dorrance and watching her creative process unfold in the studio. She influenced my own thinking so much – not just in terms of rhythm or choreography, but just in terms of movement. I also love anything Dana Foglia does – her unique combination of sensuality and musicality is hypnotic.

Nicole: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
Ryan: I owe a lot to my primary tap teachers, Thelma Goldberg and Kelly Kaleta. Thelma’s most powerful message to me was to “share the joy of dance with others.” I recently received an email from someone who had seen my company perform at Jacob’s Pillow last year and, when he was there again a few weeks ago, made a point to watch our performance on video and tell me that he was smiling the whole time. That was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received; I saw so clearly how true Thelma’s words are.
I consider Billy Siegenfeld to be a significant mentor, as well. He taught me what rhythmic clarity, the ultimate goal (I think) of any percussive dancer, really means. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not thinking, actively or not, of his principles.
Aaron Tolson and Michelle Dorrance were both kind enough to hire me for their companies, and I learned just as much dancing alongside them as I did sitting on the sidelines observing them. Michelle especially made the proverbial lightbulb go off over my head about what tap choreography could be.

Nicole: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Ryan: They can visit my website, www.ryanpcasey.com; follow me on Twitter or Instagram, where I’m @tapdude24; or “like” my company, Ryan P. Casey & Dancers, on Facebook!


ChoreoFest Interview: Meghan McCaffrey!

by Nicole Harris

IMPACT Dance at NACHMO 2014 © Nicole Tomaselli 2014

We're only 10 days away from ChoreoFest, the one and only 24-hour dance festival dreamed up by Luminarium founders Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman, and we couldn't be more excited! 
The Connect 2 Choreography blog is running a series of interviews so you can get to know the choreographers of each participating group. First up, Nicole has some questions for IMPACT Dance founder and choreographer, Meghan Theresa McCaffrey.

Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Meghan McCaffrey: Great question! I have always loved dance and at a pretty early age I made the decision that being a 'professional dancer' was not in the cards for me. I was introduced to the craft of choreography in High School and fell in love. But the actual 'move' I believe was when I started IMPACT. I decided that I was going to step back and solely be the painter and not the canvas. 

Nicole: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
Meghan: Hmmmm-I would have to say the fear of not being good enough- or creating work that I didn't like or my dancers didn't like. 

Nicole: Have you participated in ChoreoFest before? If so, what is your favorite memory of that experience?
Meghan: Yes! We participated in 2014 :) My favorite memory is the bonding aspect within the process. I felt closer to my dancers and the other companies. 

Nicole: What advice do you have for new ChoreoFest choreographers? Are there things you hope to do differently this time?
Meghan: My advice is to be open to the process- let it inspire you to be the best you can be in that 24 hour span!  I am hoping to take more time to investigate and discover the dancers' movement. 

Nicole: Since this is a very controlled creative space (in terms of time and topic) where do you see yourself starting when you get in the space?
Meghan: Last ChoreoFest the dancers and I settled into our studio and took out notebooks. We all 'popcorned' ideas and thoughts based on the topics we drew from the hat. I am envisioning a similar starting point. 

Nicole: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
Meghan: I believe it depends on what type of piece I am starting, however my dancers always play a pivotal role in my creative process. I like to bring up topics that I know my dancers can connect their own voice to. I also am very image driven and sometimes it is hard for my body to display what I see or feel in my mind. When this happens my dancers are so important to figuring out what is going on in my head and translating it to their bodies. 

Nicole: Knowing that Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru", what things do you hope she can help with in the overnight process?
Meghan: I am hoping that she can offer us feedback, constructive criticism, inspiration, advice etc etc throughout the process and especially if we are having an "I am stuck" moment! 

Nicole: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
Meghan: Currently some of my new favs : Emma Porter, Emily Shock,Talia Favia, Jaci Royal, Kirsten Russell, Andrew Winghart.
Some of Always my favs: Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, Moses Pendelton, Nathan Trice.

If you want to learn more about IMPACT Dance and see what other awesome things they're up to, check out the links below!

Website! www.impactdancecompany.net
Facebook! Impact Dance Company Boston
Instagram! _impactdance
Twitter! @impactboston


Julia Boynton - An Interview with Beantown Tapfest's Founder

All week long, tap dancers from all over the globe have come to Boston to hold workshops, classes, and open jams for Beantown Tapfest! The faculty showcase, ON TAP, is tonight at 8pm at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown- be sure to check it out! I talked to Julia Boynton, the festival's founder, about running the festival, her favorite ice cream, and how she started dancing.

Aisha Cruse: How long have you been dancing? Have you always done tap?

Julia Boynton: Growing up in the golden age of television, I fell in love with the dance I saw on variety shows and in the old movie musicals, so my mom took me to the local dancing school—Miss Mackie’s School of Dance in Framingham—and though I wanted to take ballet, I was placed in the tap class. That didn’t last long as I preferred climbing trees and balancing on fences. However the attraction to dance remained and I started taking classes in my early twenties at the Joy of Movement Center.

AC: Many dancers feel drawn to a particular form; did you feel a connection to tap?

JB: I tried a couple of ballet, modern and jazz classes and realized I needed a more relaxed style of movement. Although flamenco didn’t fit that description, I loved the element of making sound in tap and flamenco and started studying both forms, in private and group lessons. Ultimately I chose tap. At that time I struggled with depression and felt tap allowed me a lightness of being and expression that I needed to cultivate.

AC: Why did you start Tapfest?

JB: In my mid-thirties I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, now known as Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease, which meant I had to deal with severe limits to my energy. Performing, traveling abroad to teach, and teaching full time were manageable only with a great deal of planning and effort. I started producing regular tap jams and master classes as a means to augment a reduced teaching load and also to remain involved in tap dance without taxing my energy. I enjoyed being part of the larger community those tap events attracted (outside of my own student population), and producing the tap festival was a natural progression.

AC: What was your biggest hurdle starting the festival?

JB: The biggest hurdle to starting the festival was finding an affordable and suitable venue for the classes. The first two years the festival was at Springstep in Medford, a gorgeous space but located too far from the city. The next two years we were at Green Street Studios, a great location with affordable studios but lacking space for students and faculty to relax and mingle outside of class. Last year Deborah Mason opened her new space in Somerville and Beantown Tapfest found its ideal and permanent home.

AC: The festival is in its 9th year (congrats!); have the challenges of running a festival changed with each year?

JB: The first Beantown Tapfest was in 2007. Since then, promotion has become easier and less costly. I’ve come to rely less on postcards, posters, and postal mailings to get the word out, and more on email, online listings and Facebook.

AC: What has been the most rewarding part of producing the festival?

JB: For me, being in the midst of a multi-generational community of fellow tap devotees from near and far, reuniting, taking classes, jamming, discussing, rehearsing, performing and hanging out, is a gratifying way to spend a week. There are moments when I get a sense of tap’s past, present and future all at once.

AC: Has teaching impacted your dancing or your work with the festival?

JB: In Boston there’s a substantial contingent of advanced over-40 tap students, myself included, who’ve tapped professionally or taken tap as a hobby for decades. We’re advanced in terms of vocabulary and skill, but don’t have the memory or energy we did in our twenties. Advanced teens and young adults with sharper memory and boundless energy can process more material and handle more rigorous movement. In past festivals advanced adult students were often left in the dust. Because the majority of my own students are adults, I understand the frustration of mixed classes. This year the festival is offering classes geared to both populations: advanced adults and advanced teens & young adults.

AC: Favorite ice-cream flavor?

JB: Coconut milk ice-cream

AC: If you could take class or have lunch with any dancer, living or dead, who would it be?

JB: I’d like to have a martini with Sammy Davis Jr.

AC: Any advice for our movers and shakers out there?

JB: I’ll share this Teddy Roosevelt quote: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."


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