You can catch their show at
OnStage Dance Company, 665 Salem St, Malden, MA
Saturday, July 7th @ 4pm
Use VIP Code NDC10 to get a special ticket price here!
Follow Nozama on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter to learn more about them!!
Nicole Harris: Can you tell me about the work you’ll be performing as part of the OnStage Summer Performance Series?
Gracie Novikoff: Nozama Dance Collective is thrilled to be a part of the OnStage Summer Performance Series! We will be presenting a 45 minute set on Saturday, July 7th at 4pm. We will be performing predominantly new works, which is very exciting! We have been crafting a series of pieces surrounding the concept of “Enough”, in that as women we have seen enough, we have heard enough, we have had enough; now is the time to embrace that we are enough. Under this concept’s umbrella, we are presenting empowering works of frustration surrounding the threats to women’s rights, as well as uplifting dances of women coming together to celebrate one another. The tumultuous political climate of 2016-2018 has inspired us in numerous ways, particularly in how bold women have stood up and claimed their voices against oppressive forces. We are committed to bringing female empowerment to the Boston dance community, and this performance will fully embody that. This set list will then make up a large percentage of the choreography for our own full-length production, appropriately entitled “Enough”, which will be on August 3rd and 4th at Green Street Studios in Cambridge, MA.
In creating our pieces, we pull inspiration from our own experiences as well as the other women in our lives and our relationships with them. Specifically, Natalie Schiera and I (Nozama’s Co-Directors) are inspired by our mentor from Boston University, Micki Taylor-Pinney. She taught us the bulk of what we know about the art of choreography, and how to captivate an audience with your message. She is our greatest instructor and guide!
N: Last time we spoke it was during NACHMO Boston and you were presenting work of a new choreographer for your company. Have any additional company members choreographed work during 2018? How has it been for you and for the dancers to expand the number of choreographers you’re working with? What have some of the challenges been? What has been really successful?
G: One of the internal missions of Nozama Dance Collective in 2018 was to offer opportunities to our dancers that would promote their own individual goals as artists. With this, we now have numerous choreographers within the company. Natalie Schiera and I as Co-Directors still choreograph many of the pieces, but we have had stunning pieces choreographed by Kelly Gauthier, who has been with the company since its inception. Additionally, this season Dana Alsamsam is choreographing a phenomenal trio, while Juliana Wiley is crafting a fantastic duet. We are also excited to produce solos choreographed and performed by Teresa Tobin and Katy Esper, individually. We look forward to fostering the creativity and passion of our dancers as choreographers and as artists, and we are consistently seeking opportunities for them to achieve their goals.
N: I know it hasn’t been nearly as long between the last interview and now as it was between the first two, but what what are a couple of amazing things that have happened to the company since January?
G: So many things! We are especially proud to now be officially partnered with the Big Sisters Association! We teach monthly workshops to girls ages 9-13 years old with their “Big Sisters” from the program. These workshops focus on topics such as girl power and positive body image, and incorporate movement and choreography to express these concepts. The partnership has been tremendously beneficial for both parties, and we are excited to donate a proceed of our ticket sales from our August 2018 production, “Enough”, to this organization.
For more information about Jennifer and OnStage Dance Company check out their website, Facebook and Instagram. For more information about the OnStage Summer Performance Series and to get tickets, click here!
Nicole Harris: What made you want to start a performance series? What are you goals for it?
Jennifer Crowell-Kuhnberg: My goals for the performance series are multi-faceted! To start, producing an evening-length showcase is a very expensive and overwhelming endeavor for small dance companies. I wanted to provide an opportunity for these groups to show their work in a way that didn't cost them anything but could also yield a profit for them, from their ticket sales. Most small companies are lucky to break even after a show, much less walk away with a profit. On the other hand, being new to the Malden community, I wanted to help facilitate the beginning of what I hope will be a more robust arts' scene in this part of the city by bringing in some fantastic, local companies. Our new studio space is huge and has such incredible potential as a burgeoning arts space! It's a perfect location for experimental showcases and events and this idea seemed like a great way to expand on some of the successful programming we are already doing (like our Residency Program and Annual Arts Marathon). I hope we'll see members of the Malden community, and surrounding towns, come in to see some of the performances and experience dance in a new way (or for the first time!).
N: You also have a choreographer residency program. Can you talk about that and how it came about?
J: The Residency Program came about when OnStage first acquired our own studio space, about five years ago. Having our own space allowed us limitless possibilities in terms of the programs and opportunities we could offer as a non-profit arts organization. With our performance company, the choreographer auditions and rehearsal process are very regimented as we have a limited time frame to work within. The Residency program was an opportunity to give choreographers more time to play, explore and experiment by giving them no rules (other than to show up and create something!). It changes the dynamic of the choreographic process when you're free to create whatever you like, or can have an idea evolve in a way that you might not have expected.
N: You have only been in your space for about a year. How has it been? What are the unexpected challenges of running a space? What has been wildly successful about it?
J: Moving to this new space has been such an adventure! We had our own studio in Somerville for several years, but I was very excited for the opportunity to expand into a larger space - and when I walked into this studio for the first time, I knew I had to have it! It's always challenging when you move to a new area, as we had to start from scratch with all of our marketing efforts and getting people to know who we were and where we were located. Even a year in, that's still something we're working to improve on! But it's been such a thrill seeing so many new people come in to take classes, or audition for our company, or sign up for our programs. I hope we'll continue seeing more new faces each day!
N: You clearly have done a lot to champion choreography and choreographers. What is that particular cause so important to you personally?
J: Thank you! I think the reason this is so important to me personally is because I took the long way to get here and I wish I'd had a short cut! Meaning, I was very intimidated to break into the dance scene and find my place in it. I was told it was too "cut throat," too competitive, not a reasonable way to make a living, and so on. Finding success as a choreographer can seem impossible when there are not enough opportunities for emerging dance makers to show work, build their brand, or discover what their brand even is! It takes a lot of time to cultivate your artistic voice and get eyes in front of your work. By offering some of these programs through OnStage, I hope I can make it just a little easier for artists to find their way.
N: Monkeyhouse believes in the importance of both giving back and paying forward. Who are some of your mentors? How are you paying forward what was given to you?
J: My earliest mentor was Elaine Hershfeld from the Mark Twain School. She was the director of the dance program and was always so supportive of my little creations. She awarded me the Choreographer of the Year Award way back in 1998 and I swear, to this day, it's one of my most meaningful achievements. I also had some fantastic teachers at Horizons in Dance in Brooklyn who instilled that sense of joy in dance but also a very strong work ethic. I've been working as a full-time dance instructor at many studios over the years, and I definitely try to emulate their teaching style. They were a huge influence on me as a kid and if I can have even a fraction of the same impact, I know I'm doing ok.
N: Monkeyhouse has a Choreography Mentorship program and we are always interested in hearing what other artists have gone through. What advice would you offer to emerging choreographers?
J: Most advice that emerging choreographers will hear is related to working hard, being tenacious in their efforts to get work out there, applying to everything, etc. And that is all good, and important, advice. I would also add that the best thing you can do for yourself is not try to be someone or something that you're not. Be proud of your unique dance voice and don't worry about trying to change your work to fit what everyone else is doing. Your work will naturally evolve and be influenced by other things you see and experience, but the worst thing you can do with your art is compare it to others' and force it to be like theirs. The most successful and well respected choreographers have that reputation because they paved their own way.
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?
Thanks Monkeyhouse! Paradise Lost loves you!
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