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.

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