October Events!

By Aisha Cruse

Sat, October 3 @ 7:30 pm
NYC's Janis Brenner & Dancers
Featuring Janis Brenner & Dancers : Presented by The Dance Hall
At The Dance Hall Kittery, ME

$20 at the door/ $16 advance
Janis Brenner has been hailed as deeply moving and a tour de force from New York City to Switzerland to Russia and back again. She and her Dancers have performed at Madison Square Garden,  Jacob's Pillow, the UN, and at festivals to numerous to name. Her body of work is impressive to say the absolute least. Janis Brenner and Dancers will bE in Kittery, Maine for a more intimate evening long performance. A perfect chance to escape the city and see one of New York's finest dance companies.

Fri & Sat, October 16 & 17 @ 8 pm 
Doug Varone and Dancers
Presented by World Music/CRASHArts
Institute for Contemporary Art Boston, Boston Waterfront
Doug Varone and Dancers present, among other works, the Boston premiere of ReComposed, inspired by the pastel drawings of Joan Mitchell and set to Max Richter's newly constructed version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Check out the pre-performance talks with BDA Executive Director Debra Cash, and stick around for the post-show discussion with the company on the 16th.

Fri, October 23 @ 6:30 pm 
Of Looms & Lillies
Featuring Weber Dance : Presented by Charles River Museum with Weber Dance
At Charles River Museum, Waltham MA
$30 / $25 Student/ Senior/ Charles River Museum Members
The Weber Dance Group will be bringing this evening length work at the Charles River Museum. The piece imagines a conversation between a modern woman and and a nineteenth century mill worker. Inspired by the history of the Lowell Mill, the lives of textile workers, and the detailed records of Thoreau, the dancert explore themes of the natural world in conflict with industry, the passage of time, and the lives of women. 

Tues, October 27 @ 8 pm
Thurs - Sat, October 29-31 @ 8 pm
Presented by Luminarium Dance
At Multicultural Arts Council, Lechemere
$25/ $20 Student/ $40 Double Feature!
Monkeyhouse loves Luminarium! We got a sneak peak at their upcoming evening length work during their 5th anniversary gala, and it was as eerie and ethereal as the title implies. We also have an awesome  where you can buy tickets to Luminarium and Monkeyhouse at the same time for just $40! That's two weekends of amazing dance concerts in a row! Monkeyhouse is leading a special talk back on Friday, and Thursday night Luminarium is having a post-show reception.  Come mingle with the dancers and creators of this breath-taking show!

October 22 - November 1st
Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler, a ballet by John Neumeier 
Presented by Boston Ballet
At the Boston Opera House, Downtown Crossing
The Boston Ballet will be the first North American company to perform John Neumeier's contemporary ballet. Set to the entirety of Mahler's Third Symphony, the dance is meant to capture the intensity of the music, while using it to explore life, death, grief, beauty and love. 


Collaborating with the Chevalier Theatre in Medford

MH 2012 Header
Connecting Communities with Choreography
Press ReleaseFor Immediate Release
Monkeyhouse Announces
Chevalier Kicks Off Collaboration To Get Kids Choreographing  

Medford, MA - September, 2015 - 

A budding choreographer takes flight during one of Monkeyhouse's activites at BoomTown in Cambridge
Photo Credit: JK Photo
How are you kicking off your school year? The Friends of the Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym are launching What's in a Name?, a program to benefit the physical, social and emotional well-being of children of the Boys and Girls Club of Medford. The program will provide weekly movement and choreography classes for 20 Medford children, led by an award-winning local nonprofit, Monkeyhouse. What's in a Name will span the 2015-16 academic year and will offer four opportunities for students to share their work with the public: two showings at Chevalier Theatre, a performance at Circle the Square, and a show of related artwork at Mystic Coffee Roaster.
Why should kids learn to choreograph?

karen and nicole
(l to r) Karen Krolak & Nicole Harris Photo Credit: Stephanie Suné
"Most dictionaries define choreography as just the process of creating dance steps. At Monkeyhouse, however, we describe it as learning to move with meaning," begins Karen Krolak, Monkeyhouse Founder/Artistic Director. "Through our workshops, we encourage students to explore their own strengths and weaknesses to find their unique movement style not just to copy someone else. They learn how to emphasize their individuality in productive ways that help teens to feel stronger and more confident," continues Nicole Harris, Monkeyhouse Co-Founder/Engagement Director. 
Through a series of movement and choreographic exercises, Monkeyhouse will work with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Medford to explore who the students are, where they fit in in their communities and what they hope to become over the course of the school year. Students will be given the basic tools of how to choreograph, including how to build movement phrases, how to use abstraction and how to generate transitions. In addition to their choreographic assignments, kids will be challenged to tell their own stories, learn about themselves and others, and build a stronger community within the group. "We are very excited to start on this new arts adventure with Monkeyhouse! This program will greatly enhance our Medford Club's programming and provide our members with a safe and creative space for self-expression, building self-confidence and learning new skills and techniques in the arts. We are so grateful to our partners, the Friends of the Chevalier and Gene Mack, and our supporters in the community for making this a reality for our young people." declares Lindsey Smythe, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County.
Developing a dynamic program that partners together diverse sectors of the nonprofit community with local businesses requires its own blend of fancy footwork.  The ChevalierTheatre Commission's newest member, Susan Fairchild, conceived of the idea for the collaboration.  "I knew if I could bring the right people together into the conversation, the idea would take off.  Monkeyhouse and The Medford Boys & Girls Club were a perfect match for each other! And CACHE has been presenting Circle the Square for four years now.  It was the perfect community event for showcasing the students' work, and to round out the team, Sharon Hepburn of Mystic Coffee Roasters has been an ardent supporter of arts in the community. Now we have a lot more than conversation happening!"
The program is funded by generous contributions from The Friends of the Chevalier, a Vanguard Charitable Donor Advised Fund, Medford's Thursday Fortnightly Club, and CACHE in Medford.  The Chevalier Theatre Commission is making the theater available to the program for rehearsals and performances.

About Friends of Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym
Friends of Chevalier Auditorium and Gene Mack Gym is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering financial and community support and being an advocate for the historic theater and gymnasium in Medford. Through promotion of cultural, theatrical, civic, and youth programs, the Friends strive to enrich the quality of life in the community.
About The Boys and Girls Club of Medford
The Medford Boys & Girls Club provides education, prevention and recreation programs after-school for more than 120 Medford children and teens Monday through Friday in the Gene Mack Gymnasium at 30 Forest Street. The Club provides a safe haven out of school time for youth to grow, learn and have fun. Our core programming includes Education and Career Exploration; The Arts; Sports, Fitness and Recreation; Character and Leadership Development; and, Healthy Lifestyles. Membership dues for any child are no more than $30 per year, ensuring that our Club is accessible and affordable to our community's most vulnerable children and families. For more information, please visit www.kidsclubs.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BGCMiddlesex.
About CACHE in Medford, Inc. 
CACHE in Medford, Inc. is a nonprofit organization made up of a coalition of over 20 different cultural institutions in Medford. They collectively advocate for the arts in Medford and work together to make our community more vibrant through events, projects, and collaborations with local businesses. CACHE created and sponsors Circle the Square, which presents music, art and other free entertainment in Medford Square for people of all ages on the 3rd Thursday of June, July and August.
About Mystic Coffee Roaster
Locally owned Mystic Coffee Roaster, located two blocks from the Medford Boys and Girls Club, partners with local arts-oriented organizations such as CACHE in Medford and to promote events, fundraising and general awareness of our arts community. They believe this helps to make our community a better place to live!
About The Medford The Medford CACCC (Chevalier Theatre Commission)
The Medford Civic Auditorium and Convention Center Commission (Chevalier Theatre Commission) was created by the City of Medford in 1981. Built in 1940 as part of Medford High School, Chevalier Theatre reopened as the city's performing arts center in 1992. It plays host to concerts, theatrical productions, and corporate and community events. The Medford Boys and Girls Club has operated out of the Gene Mack Gym since 2001. The Chevalier Commission oversees the operation of and continued improvements to the complex.
About Monkeyhouse
Monkeyhouse began with a promise to build a laboratory where choreographers could create, experiment and present new work.  Our mission has developed to include motivating people to move with meaning and improving communication by connecting communities with choreography.  Over the years we have mentored, nurtured and supported dozens of choreographers ranging from students first experimenting to established favorites.  We've had hundreds of conversations about different choreographic processes that stimulate or inspire new directions for our work and helped foster long term relationships with presenters, audience members and other choreographers.  

Monkeyhouse - PO Box 221 - Somerville, MA 02143

Peter DiMuro on ChoreoFest

by Aisha Cruse

ChoreoFest triumphantly ended just over a week ago, with much sighing and yawning and applause. And though the performances have concluded, the conversations continue! I was lucky enough to get to ask Dance Complex Executive Director Peter DiMuro a few questions about ChoreoFest and choreography at the Dance Complex, ChoreoFest's annual home.

A quick bit of background; a few weeks before the festival, the Dance Complex invited the ChoreoFest participants to take part in a Choreographer's Workshop lead by Peter, which was part of a longer event called Summer Sizzle. I eagerly accepted, and spent an amazing three hours building and deconstructing movement.

Given the Dance Complex's continued support of ChoreoFest, and knowing that Peter would be attending the performances, it made perfect sense to ask him some follow-up questions on the workshop and on ChoreoFest. Peter graciously and eloquently accepted.

Aisha Cruse: What made you invite the ChoreoFest participants to the Choreographer's Workshop?
Peter DiMuro: ​I often feel, that as young dance-makers, we're thrown into the world post-college or post-training with very little preparation as to what it means to "make dances". We're taught to make phrases, make-up movement. In technique class, there are combinations- often in straight lines across the floor. Even if we get to take a composition or choreography class, there is so little time to "undo" the majority of the time we spend in our training- isolating the technique from the "communication through movement".
I had seen the Choreofest through video and live snippets over the past few years, and felt that we might be able to help frame the intense 24 hour period with a mind set (and body-set!) that could de-rail the trained impetus to "gotta make up movement.." vs. "what are we communicating".

Aisha: The workshop we attended was part of a larger week-long event, which included an opportunity for choreographers to make and show work. Can you tell us a little about what
​ ​your goals were during the event and if it will be happening again?

​Peter: Each year we do two seasonal festivals- Winter Wonder and Summer Sizzle. This year, Summer Sizzle seemed to take on a new thread of creation- there was a choreographer's track as a through line, as well as some body/mind/moving somatics classes with Pam Pietro. I think with the choreo track and Pam's classes, the parallel in "how" we think about dance is the key ingredient: if we don't question the way we move, think, bundle and unbundle bodies and ultimately change (the hard part!!!), then we don't really have a chance to change the way we move, the way we create/craft dances.
As The Dance Complex continues, we will also keep reinforcing sustainable ways of thinking/doing- in our own Festivals like Winter Wonder and Summer Sizzle, but in on-going workshops we produce throughout the year- the CATALYST Classes, for instance.​

Aisha: ChoreoFest is incredibly happy to have the continued support of the Dance Complex. What kind of involvement does the Dance Complex (or do you) want to have with ChoreoFest in the future?
Peter: Since arriving here 2 summers ago, I feel like I am just understanding what the community holds as gifts to us- us at The Dance Complex but also for the whole community. It would be great to be involved with a workshop prior to the ChoreoFest as we did this year; I think it would/could get more means of interrupting patterns, ways of thinking.
I could see some of the works continuing on- and being presented in workshop or performance here say a few months later- what seed ideas are worth keeping or evolving into more?​

Aisha: Were there any moments while watching the performances that you saw or felt a connection to the skills we covered or discussions we had in the choreographer's workshop?
Peter: Of course the egotist in my wants to say, Sure! Everything connected! I'd love to ask the choreographer's the same question : how did they - or now, with reflection a few days later- interrupt the creative process patterns, movement patterns, spatial patterns, when under the gun like that.
I do think in watching that I saw the overall form of the dances- from each individual choreographer- be less connected to a known form (first a duet, now a solo, now a trio...now group unison- the kind of choreography that speaks to fulfilling some list of known ingredients). The dances felt more organically formed. And I sensed ownership by the dancers dancing- my own methods include a lot of work to get those performing to "own" movement right from the get-go, and not as a layer on top of "adding the performance", so this always is something that pops out.
It might be the nature of the 24 hour finite-ness that choreographers sense that they share creation/ownership in the process of making..​.or maybe partly the workshop that un-did some unspoken rule of the choreographer creating top down.
And I saw less unison! (That tool of the devil!) and when unison occurred, it felt less out of nowhere.
I'd encourage an examination of what, objectively with a few days passing, worked- even the unintentional aspects in performance, form, movement generation- and see if there is some way to set the likelihood that these can occur again..and that requires reflection and changing pattern....(It's always back to that! Dang!)

For more on Peter's work, please visit his website, PDM:Public Displays of Motion.
You can also find him on Facebook.


Social Giving September

Tomorrow kicks off Building Communities Week as part of Social Giving September.  For the next SIX days make a donation to Monkeyhouse and be entered to win tickets to our Misplaced/Displaced concert at the Multicultural Arts Center in October! 

We have made donations extra simple to celebrate #SGSeptember. Just find a #SGSeptember post on our Facebook or Twitter and comment "#donate" followed by the dollar amount you wish to donate. (For example: "#donate $25") GoodWorld will reach out to you directly to process your donation. It's that easy to help Monkeyhouse continue to build your community!

Once you've used #donate GoodWorld will contact you directly to fill out a one time donation form.  It's a quick and easy sign up and then you can use #donate whenever you want!  Keep checking in on social media to hear about our community partners for Misplaced/Displaced Season Part Three!

Just in case you were on the fence about making a donation, here are some of the amazing things you could win by participating in Building Communities Week:

EVERY donor will be entered to win tickets to Misplaced/Displaced at the Multicultural Arts Center in October!
We have a goal of $100/day for the six day campaign. If we reach our goal each day, one donor (selected at random) will win a prize! Prizes include a package hand drawn postcards made by our very own Engagement Director, Nicole; hand knit hats made during our first year on tour, 15 years ago; and more! For every additional increment of $100 reached each day another prize will be given away. (For example, if we raise $355 on Tuesday we will have three winners that day.)
Anyone who donates $25 or higher will receive one of our brand new super secret t-shirts. The design will be revealed tomorrow! 
GoodWorld will also be handing out prizes at random to donors, so you could win all sorts of stuff!

Looking for a way to double your dollars?  Here's how GoodWorld is helping your money go even further:

Post a photo of yourself using #donate and post it on Social Giving September's Facebook page (be sure to tag Monkeyhouse!) and they will donate an additional $10!

Feeling generous?  GoodWorld will donate an additional $25 for every donor who donates $1000 using #donate.

The organization who raises the most using #donate by the end of the week will be given an additional $1000!


ChoreoFest Interview: Nicole Harris interviews Nicole Harris!

Interview by and starring Nicole Harris

Introduction by Aisha Cruse

Displaying Counter Balance.jpg
Photo by Stephanie Sune

ChoreoFest ends TODAY!! We are 2 hours away from the first of this years ChoreoFest performances. To commemorate this wacky festival we've come to love, and finish up our choreographer interview series, we are delighted to bring you Nicole Harris, final third of ChoreoFest super group Paranarium House, interviewed by Nicole Harris, Monkeyhouse Engagement Director and the glue that holds our company together.

Nicole: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Nicole: I've always been interested in choreography. (I can remember some pretty amazing dances to Janet Jackson songs in my back yard way back when. Just ask Monkeyhouse's resident photographer, Jon Keith of JK Photo. He was witness to my genius and did some lip-syncing of his own. It was even caught on film. Too bad VHS went out of style, huh?) I was lucky enough to choreograph my very first professional piece at only 19 years old, thanks to Karen Krolak and Monkeyhouse. Karen has been a mentor to me in many ways over the years, but especially as a choreographer.
In 2011, after suffering a series of strokes, I got out of the hospital with a very hazy sense of what the future of my life as a dancer might look like. While I was determined to do all the things I was once able to do, I also knew it was going to be a long road. I began to really focus on who I am as a choreographer during the initial year of recovery. While I am back to dancing 100% (yay!) I am still enjoying figuring out new approaches to choreography, playing with ways of collaborating with other artists and negotiating the balance of how to coax what you are looking for out of a performer while truly valuing their own voice. 

NQ: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
NA: Holy Cow. The Paranarium House collaboration is feeling SO daunting! Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly excited for the opportunity, but like all new things, it's also scary! Not only will I be co-choreographing with two (incredible) people I have never worked with, but we are going to have 14 dancers. Yes, you read that right. FOURTEEN! That's a whole lot of bodies and voices to negotiate!

NQ: Have you participated in ChoreoFest before?
NA: This is Monkeyhouse's fourth ChoreoFest, although it's only my third. 

NQ: If so, what is your favorite memory of that experience?
NA: I think my favorite memory is from my first year (2013) when I was working with the beautiful Shannon Sullivan. Our piece had a folding table in it, which we found lurking somewhere at the Dance Complex. (Have I mentioned how awesome the Dance Complex is for hosting this shindig? Thanks, guys!) We started the piece sitting at the table playing cards. During our dress rehearsal (after I slept for all of 30 minutes the night before) we started the piece and the table collapsed, sending cards flying everywhere. I am not sure I did more than three shuffles for the rest of the piece I was laughing so hard. It was a complete disaster! Luckily the performances were significantly better and the piece turned out pretty good, despite our technical problems...!

NQ: What advice do you have for new ChoreoFest choreographers?
NA: Give yourself permission to relax. The goal of the festival is NOT perfection. It's about community and the choreographic process. Talk to other companies. See what other people are doing. Give and take feedback. You don't need to pound out 15 minutes of technically perfect movement. Take chances! Have fun! And for goodness sake... SLEEP!

NQ: Are there things you hope to do differently this time?
NA: That's hard to say because every year has been very different for me. The first year I was creating a duet and we were very equally choreographers. The second year I actually didn't even end up performing. I helped Karen with some choreographic bits. And I threw a ball of yarn at Sam Mullen's head. This year is a whole new ball of different, with the Paranarium House collaboration. I'm just excited to see what we get!

NQ: 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?
NA: We have already talked about wanting to use lots of improvisation and writing exercises to get us going. Plus, since we are combining three companies, we are going to have lots of getting to know you time at the start! We will also be doing some music making. Everyone has been asked to bring an instrument/something that makes noise. (Watch out, other companies, there are 17 of us and we're bringing kazoos!) So I'm guessing those will come into play real early in the process!

NQ: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
NA: Personally, I try to have a lot of input from dancers. My work is almost always a collaboration. Since we are all different personalities and bodies I don't find it to be useful to make everyone mimic me! (Besides, an army of Nicole's sounds terrifying, doesn't it!?) I always tell my students that I want them to be humans first, dancers second. So my process involves lots of talking and feedback and bouncing ideas around.

NQ: Knowing that Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru", what things do you hope she can help with in the overnight process?
NA: I cannot tell you how much I value Karen's guru skills. As I mentioned earlier, she has had a profound impact on my life. She has an incredible ability to ask the right questions to make you look at things in a way you hadn't considered before. Especially with the Paranarium House collaboration, I'm really looking to her as an outside eye/voice to help our trio of choreographers see what we might be missing.

NQ: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
NA: Oh my. Where to begin? Well, most obviously, my partner in crime, Karen Krolak. However, to keep from sounding like a fanatical broken record I'm going to talk about some other people instead.
First and foremost, I HUGELY admire Michelle Dorrance. Anybody who has ever heard me talk about tap dancing - or dancing of any sort - or choreography - or who have just been in a room with me for more than 20 minutes - has heard me talk about Michelle. She has a brilliant use of rhythm and sound, but more than that she has a true choreographic voice/style. Many tap choreographers can create incredible sounds and rhythmic phrases, but don't capture the breadth of what a piece of choreography can be when it comes staging. As a modern choreographer you learn about planes and levels and character development and a million other things, which can often be incredibly difficult to transfer to the art of tap dancing. Michelle does so remarkably. Right. I was trying to stay away from fanatical... Moving on!
Sticking with tap choreographers for a moment, in recent years I have been following the work of Nicholas Young. He too is telling a story with his work and a strong one at that. He also does has really fascinating electronics that he has been playing with. I strongly recommend you check him out.
I remember the first time I saw choreography that made me want to get inside the mind of the choreographer and learn how to do what he does, while watching Bill T. Jones' Still/Here. I have always been impressed with his use of multimedia/interdisciplinary arts; his willingness to constantly take chances and push boundaries; and, in the early years, to throw away the "dancer body" conventions within his company.
During a rather unpleasant freshman year of college I discovered Doug Elkins. I clearly remember saying to my friend Tina at the time, THAT is what I want to do. I had the pleasure of interviewing Doug last year and had the same thought again. I love his blending of styles, storytelling devices and use of humor. And the man is brilliant. Wow.

NQ: Who are your mentors?
NA: I've already talked about one Karen Krolak...
I have also been lucky enough to study extensively with tap dancers Lynn Schwab and Derick Grant. Both have taught me more than I can ever say and are truly brilliant and beautiful people both in the studio and out.
While there are many other people I could mention, I think I've already had the longest interview by miles, so I'm just going to say one last person.
For twelve years I had the good fortune to work beside Margaret Hagemeister during our time running the drama program at Natick High School. Why she chose to hire me to begin with, a young, nervous choreographer with no real experience to speak of, I have never fully understood. With her ever steady support and guidance, I learned to become a better, more confident teacher, how to be a director and to have a real love and appreciation for musical theatre. Thank you to you all!

NQ: How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
NA: It's funny to say what you've given someone else. I would like to think that I have passed along not only technique and knowledge to my students, but that I've been able to give them the freedom to discover their own voices and the support that has been given to me as I've tried and failed and tried again. I guess you'll have to ask them, though...
No matter what, I think I try to first and foremost make my students understand that they have value. Their opinions have value. Their lives have value. Their fears and triumphs and mistakes all have value. And that I will be here to remind you of that.

NQ: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
NA: Come see me and my Monkeyhouse cohorts at the Multicultural Arts Center on October 23rd/24th! We are turning 15 and building a concert that's really remarkable!

Monkeyhouse can be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/MonkeyhouseLovesMe), Twitter (@m0nkeyhouse), Instagram (@MonkeyhouseLovesMe) and on our website (MonkeyhouseLovesMe.com) As the social media guru/Engagment Director of Monkeyhouse, I am often the voice you hear in all of the above!

ChoreoFest Interview: Kimberleigh A Holman!

by Nicole Harris

photo credits available at http://kaholman.com/about/
ChoreoFest ends TODAY!! We are mere hours away from the first of this years ChoreoFest performances, and we're rounding out our final choreographer interviews. Our penultimate interview slot goes to our friend, collaborator, ChoreoFest organizer and one third of this year's choreographic super group, Paranarium House, Kimberleigh A Holman of the incomparable Luminarium!

Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Kim Holman: I've sort of always been a creator (as opposed to a dancer, though I enjoy moving), as I love cause and effect and watching the outcome of various experiments. The joy in a performance for me is not performing for an audience but watching something from the depths of my mind exist by itself on stage at the same time as an audience.

Nicole: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
Kim: At present I don't feel nervous about ChoreoFest, but last weekend I woke up in a panic and cold sweat at 4:30am worrying that I'd let everyone down by not making anything at all. That was the first time I've ever had such an anxious dream! I think since we are merging companies this year (Luminarium, Monkeyhouse, Paradise Lost), I'm slightly nervous at the idea of having so many bodies in one room with a finite amount of work time. Sure, I know most of the others in the room, but we've never worked together. There's something exciting, worrisome and beautiful about that.

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?
Kim: Of course, I'm 4 for 4! There are too many favorite moments for me to pinpoint one - if I had to it might be the singing coffee pot - but I will say that the best stuff happens in the common spaces (around food, in tech, in discussion). My advice to newbies would be to embrace opportunities outside of the workspace/studio. You might be feeling stressed, but take time to chat with others, share your concerns, let others into your studio to help. I'm changing my mind. My favorite memory is the failure that was the Year One ChoreoLympics. Never again will we ask a room full of exhausted frustrated creators to participate in organized games at 4am.

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?
Kim: This year we have controlled time and topic, and the new experience that is Paranarium House! Tyler, Nicole and I met to talk about how we would approach making a new piece in a very collaborative new manner, and created a game plan. We will be using a lot of experimentation, sharing, writing and noisemaking with the three of us acting as facilitators. This might be the first time in my life where I have no idea what will happen and what the product might look like. Exciting!

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?
Kim: In past years of this festival my dancers have been integral to the creative process and I'd imagine it would be the same this year, just in a larger context. I enjoy starting a new ChoreoFest piece by working through concepts with experimentation and improv to see what might happen. Each new experiment is a refinement of what came before. I work similarly outside of ChoreoFest, though I tend to bring more specific ideas or choreographic material to try out.

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?
Kim: It will be amazing to have an outside set of eyes (clad in brand new ChoreoFest glasses, no less) to step in when we get deep in the process. Because the timeline is so condensed at ChoreoFest, it's so easy to get buried by ideas and lose sight of your initial impulses. Having someone around to ask questions and share what they are seeing will be so helpful.

Nicole: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
Kim: I'm going to try to keep this random list somewhat concise: Andrea Miller, David Parsons, Bob Fosse, Mark Morris, Akram Kahn, Gene Kelly, Lloyd Newson/DV8 Physical Theatre... really anyone that makes dance with some driving force/passion behind it.

Nicole: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
Kim: As far as making dance and living life as a creator go, the wonderfully giving Karen Krolak has been invaluable to me in recent years and I certainly consider her a mentor (gosh, hopefully she accepts!). I think one of the sticking themes that I carry away from conversations with Karen is to not be limited by practicality in the face of a great idea, a sort of wild spin off on where there's a will, there's a way.

Nicole: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Kim: LuminariumDance.org, or my brand new site kaholman.com. The best idea would be to come check out a Luminarium show, however, and there are lots of chances to do just that this fall.


ChoreoFest Interview: Jessica Chang and Jennifer Roberts!

by Nicole Harris

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Chang

ChoreoFest starts TODAY!! We are just 2 brief hours away from the start of ChoreoFest, and we're down to our final three choreographer interviews. Introducing two wonderful co-choreographers, Jessica Chang and Jennifer Roberts!
Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?

Jessica & Jennifer: We felt the pull toward choreography because we want more freedom to carry out our own choreographic visions, not only serve as tools for other choreographers. We want to move in the specific ways that delight our bodies, and to embrace the movement idiosyncrasies specific to us.

Nicole: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
J &J: Producing quality work in such a short amount of time!

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?
J &J: The selected topic will be an obvious impetus for our initial movement ideas. Since time is a huge factor, we want to draft a first score quickly. The more time we have to play and edit within that initial structure- the better. 

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?
J &J: We’ve been dancing together for years but only recently started choreographing collaboratively. We’re familiar with each other’s movement aesthetics but are still in the process of learning how to make space for both our strengths.

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?
J &J: We’re excited to critically engage with someone with such vast experience in movement, costuming, text, and production. And we look forward to Karen pushing our work in new and interesting directions.

Nicole: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
J &J: Andrea Miller, Ohad Naharin, Zoe Scofield, David Dorfman

Nicole: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
J &J: We both attended Mount Holyoke College and were molded by the great teaching artists of the Five College dance department including Terese Freedman and Jim Coleman, Cynthia McLaughlin, Katie Martin, and Peter Jones. Thanks to these and other faculty we were introduced to a wide range of contemporary movement styles.

ChoreoFest Interview: Tyler Catanella!

by Nicole Harris

ChoreoFest starts TODAY!! We are 25 hours away from the first of this years ChoreoFest performances, and we're rounding out our final choreographer interviews. Next up, longtime friend and collaborator, and one third of this year's choreographic super group, Paranarium House, Tyler Catanella of Paradise Lost!

Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Tyler Catanella: I feel like I've always been more of a choreographer than a dancer. I had some not-so-great experiences when I first started dancing where I felt like a pawn being used in a game I didn't believe in. So now I only do work where collaboration is premier. I encourage everybody in my company to be as smart of a director as they are a performer.

NH: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
TC: SLEEP! The last time we performed in 2013, I got really sick from staying up all night and composing the music to our piece, and only getting to sleep from 7:45-8:30am. I hope that we three companies can all gel together well so that the night goes smoothly (and with enough time to sleepsies)!

NH: 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?
TC: Hell yeah we have! My favorite memory was the 8:30am morning tech, where we realized: "Hey, we actually made a really great piece! And we're proud of it!" That was honestly the moment that gave us the confidence to form Paradise Lost into professional company.
As far as advice, I've got two big pointers: 1) Pace yourself! Don't exert a ton of energy in the first hour dancing all out. You've gotta conserve your mental and physical energy so that you have a cohesive piece at the end of the night. And 2) Say YES! Don't spend a lot of time talking about big ideas and improvising without setting. Make strong choices and roll with them. There is no room to go back and edit.

NH: 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?
TC: We will start with a strong ensemble-building exercise that allows us to drop in and play with whatever theme we receive. From there, who knows!

NH: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
TC: Like I stated, I give lots of directorial freedom to those I perform with. I allow them to make choices with their characters, and even create space within the piece where they can set their own choreography. And often times, I'll let people work on something based on an idea or image I have, then bring it back for us to shape and mold together. I've got a ton of trust in these folks :)

NH: Knowing that Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru", what things do you hope she can help with in the overnight process?
TC: One word: Sanity. I hope that she can reassure our process and keep us level-headed and focused on the end goal. Seems a pretty cool cat.

NH: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
TC: Right now, I'm really digging a ton of hip-hop choreographers. So I'm really digging Tricia Miranda, WilldaBeast Adams, and Kyle Hanagami to name a few. They're doing great stuff with their dance videos.

NH: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?

TC: I've got a ton of mentors in life, many of which are right here in Boston. People like Josie Bray have been incredible mentors in helping me find myself in the work that I do. My Associate Artistic Director Shannon Sweeny is my biggest inspiration in dance world because of how much she believes in what we do, and her bold and much-needed honesty always keeps me in check in the best way. She's the other half of the brain at this point, and the finest collaborator I've ever had/probably will ever have. And most importantly, I reflect so much on my grandparents when I make art. They themselves were hairdressers and worked till they were in their late 80's, but their love, dedication and hard work always keeps me grounded. It reminds me that life comes first, and that we make our art for the people we love and ideas in which we believe.

NH: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
TC: www.paradisemoves.com
Thanks Monkeyhouse! Paradise Lost loves you!

ChoreoFest Interview: Jennifer Crowell-Kahnberg!

by Nicole Harris

ChoreoFest starts TODAY!! As we enter the final countdown to showtime, we're happy to introduce you to the remaining participants on this year's ChoreoFest roster. First up, an interview with the talented Jennifer Crowell-Kahnberg of OnStage Dance Company!

Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer? 

Displaying OnStage.png
"Hey Mami" Choreographed by Jennifer Crowell-Kuhnberg. 
Photo by Kathryn Swayze Photography & Design 
for OnStage Dance Company (c) 2015
Jennifer Crowell-Kahnberg: I went to a performing arts school for junior high and as silly as it may sound I received the "Choreographer of the Year" award my senior year. I was so young and impressionable and it made me feel like what I created was valued. I guess I always had the choreo bug and was able to hone in on my own style as I worked with a variety of different teachers and other dancers.

NH: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?

JCK: I'm really only nervous about staying awake and being able to create something good while exhausted! I'm excited to work with my dancers on this so as long as I have a ton of caffeine, I think I'll be ok!

NH: Have you participated in ChoreoFest before?

JCK: This is my first time participating in ChoreoFest.

NH: 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? 

JCK: I think a lot of our decision making will depend on what type of music or theme we're given. I guess the first step is trying to navigate our different styles since we have dancers who work in everything from contemporary and tap to hip hop and bollywood. It's a crazy and interesting mix.

NH: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how? 

JCK: I always try to use my dancers strengths in helping to form and shape my work. It would be silly not to. But I suppose for some pieces I'm more open to taking suggestions or feedback and for others I may have a very specific vision and not want to stray too far from that. It all depends on why or what the piece is being created for. For ChoreoFest, it'll be all hands on deck.

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

JCK: I've never had a choreo guru before so not sure yet how we will want to use her help! But I'm sure that when we're all exhausted, we'll appreciate having someone there to bounce ideas off of or just talk and give our minds a break.

NH: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?

JCK:  I have SOOO many favorites, and they're all completely different. The short list is Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott from SYTYCD, Camille A. Brown, Tina Landon, Bob Fosse, and Kenny Ortega.

NH: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?

JCK: My first dance mentor was my dance teacher at my performing arts school, Elaine Hershfield. She encouraged me to create at a very young age and without her influence, I never would have pursued dance the way I have. I try to pay it forward through OnStage - our non-profit organization - where our mission is essentially to say to adults dancers, it's not too late to create something special, even if we won't ever be famous dancers or choreographers - those moments we share on stage with each other are truly special.

NH: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
JCK: Learn more about me and OnStage Dance Company at our website www.onstagedanceco.com or come take class at our studio at 276 Broadway in Somerville.


Choreofest Interview: Nicole Laliberté!

by Nicole Harris

Displaying Thought Bubbles.jpg
Nicole Laliberté photographed by Robert Coghill

We're only 4 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 first time ChoreoFest participant, Nicole C. Laliberté!

Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Nicole C. Laliberté: I have always choreographed. As a little girl I would stage shows in my basement for my dear, patient parents. My best friend Lisa and I would perform. I had my first public showing of my choreography when I was in the 4th grade for a school talent show. I set a solo on Lisa to Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” and one on myself to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” complete with multi-colored sequin tube top, LOL!
Later, as I pursued my formal dance training at The Boston Conservatory, I realized two things
that prompted me to start removing myself from my own work:
1. Being in the work prevented me from seeing the overall piece, its structure, spatial
design, cohesiveness….and also from being able to give dancers prompts / feedback for nuanced performance.
2. I sadly realized that although I had a powerful performance presence, my little body had
too many anatomical limitations to achieve the look I wanted. I would focus so hard on
extensions and pointed feet, thinking I had really done well, and then I would see myself
on video and cringe. This is still emotional and deeply personal for me to discuss; in fact, I’m not sure I should be disclosing this fact as I don’t want it plastered all over the web. I
chose to work with dancers who had the technical capacity and performance aesthetic
that I wanted for my works.

NH: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
NL: Well, I suppose keeping tensions down as we all become more sleep deprived, especially since I am working with some of my dancers for the first time, and this group is definitely working together for the first time. So I am unfamiliar with their personal triggers and preferred learning styles. Working with new people in a new group is always challenging for optimal
communication, and this setting adds much deeper challenges due to its nature. Keeping calm
and gentle communication open is key to a successful and enjoyable experience for all.
On a humorous but very real note: I am concerned about bringing too much stuff and the horrors
of trying to get all the stuff from my little Mazda into The Dance Complex on a traffic filled
Friday evening. I’m one of those people who thinks it best to bring something “just in case”
rather than to be caught without.

NH: 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?
NL: I will most likely start with some guided improvisation to help all of us get more comfortable
with each other. Depending on the topic, I may ask the dancers to engage in a written
exploration as a means of movement generation. Writing or no writing, unless I have an extremely strong personal connection to the theme, I would like the initial movement generation
to come from each of the dancers. We tend to better remember and most fully execute that
movement which naturally emanates from within our own bodies.

NH: In creating a new work, what is the relationship between you and your dancers? Do
they participate in the creative process? If so, how?

NL: Please refer to the information provided in response to the previous question. Additionally, I like to verbally engage with the dancers as to their thoughts and valuable insights about the creation of meaning in the work. Often I will ask the dancers what feels most comfortable or natural when finessing the details of the movement.

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

NL: Probably technological assistance with computer audio editing. I have a new laptop that I really don’t know how to use with its Windows 8 platform (grrr), and an old laptop that (at best)
functions at the speed of a snail trying to get up a molasses covered hill in winter.

NH: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
NL: Oh boy…Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Mark Morris, Alonzo King, Jill Bahr, Dwight
Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Bill T. Jones, Ulysses S. Dove… is that enough?

NH: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
NL: Oh my god, I could go on forever here…but first and foremost I must honor the memory of my recently departed mentor and colleague, Dr. Jan Van Dyke of Greensboro, NC. I can’t believe she is gone. She is being honored with a memorial this coming Sunday August 22nd, held at the UNCG Dance Theatre and livestreamed on the web. I can’t say enough about or adequately summarize how much I learned from Jan as a teacher, choreographer, administrator, and woman of dignity in the arts and academe.
Last week I was teaching young student choreographers during an intensive at The Dance
Academy in Fall River. I gave them the same first day lesson that Jan used in Choreography II,
The Craft at UNCG, for which I was twice her TA. We wrote rhythms on the board and
discussed time values of different musical notes, and how many beats per measure, and how to vary rhythm and apply it to movement to create new and interesting variations. It’s actually a
very difficult concept to grasp for most of us, but invariably successful in the end. The school
director was impressed when she saw the material and commented that they were learning so
much from me. I told her that it was all Jan, or JVD as we lovingly called her.


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