AC: What first drew you to dance? What was your path to becoming a professional dancer?
SK: My mum is a dance teacher, and I always followed her in her class when I was young. I really started dance when I met Hip Hop culture in Paris. The music, the movements the style and energy inspired me from the beginning.
AC: How did you and Hind begin working together?
SK: Hind invited me to participate in the creative project Identity and we started to work from 22000km apart. I'm living in New Caledonia, so we started to create the collaboration by internet relations and work in different ways. Personally, I've created with my own company another work linked to calligraphy (what i was already working on) and this was my way to participate and add my brick to the wall. Then I invited Hind to New Caledonia and kept working and exchanging together. We kept the link and talking by Skype almost everyday and intensive working and documents sharing and writing.
AC: Have you encountered resistance to your work?
SK: The distance was my most important resistance/difficulty during this process...and the short time I had for the creative process due to my other company schedule and projects already.
AC: How has your attitude toward dance and performance changed over time?
SK: I was very anxious about my first work in Morocco. Representing my culture was a pleasure but at the same time brought back to me memories and struggle that I had had in the past, like [the idea that] dance is not a job. In our culture it is important to have a "real job". So [my attitude] slowly changed by accepting my own culture inside this way. Creating this work with Hind and Mohcine as my friends and family more than just random artists. This piece is a real part me, of my struggle, of my memory, my village in casablanca and all the ceremonies and weddings, all the music songs and songs that I've been hearing during all my childhood. I'm now fully accepting all this past as a present and as my present lifetime dancing and performing this piece and dancing with my heart, giving all who I am.
AC: Have you found your style or process influenced by those you work with?
SK: Yes, I am always influenced by the person who I'm collaborating with. As artists we are working with our souls and heart. We are sharing pieces of cultures, arts, way of thinking, living. So I feel like I've taken a small part from every artists I have collaborated with, every culture, every art form, universe.
AC: As primarily solo artists, what kinds of challenges do you face in creating and performing? Do you find that collaborative work erases some of those challenges, or provide new ones?
SK: I think solo is a really difficult way to work and to process because you are deeply facing yourself and this is the most difficult thing for me. I'm now also artistic director and choreographer of my own company, dancing in every piece I'm making, and this is truly bringing difficulty and at same erasing some.
Performing solo is sometimes sad because you're not sharing the pleasure to have been performing, and being on stage, or sharing the hard moments with someone. Collaborating with other artists you have to face their own personality and character, desires and anxiousness, strength and sometimes everything doesn't go in the way you would like to or expect to, if you have expectations. But sometimes it brings more than you could ever expect.
AC: What have you enjoyed most about working on Identity/Identite? What were your expectations verses outcomes?
SK: Discovering my culture through the artistic universe of Hind and Mohcine, their stories, and sharing the beauty, good things and also the struggles with people. Second, creating a new work being pushed again till the limit, and push myself to accept the challenge and discover their artistic world and stories.
AC: In the states, we often talk about the dance community and connecting performers with the audience. Can you talk about experiences you've had trying to engage with your audience, and with connecting dancers and performers to each other?
SK: We had such beautiful experiences sharing our work by Q&A, and sharing people's thoughts about what they felt by watch us performing. It's a such great opportunity to be able to receive the audience's feeling and understand the impact your work has had on them, and feeling how powerful art can impact people's life. To be honest, to be able to feel how much some simple things like a one hour art piece can change the perception of hundred of people, and open their minds. Just have to be responsible about what you are sharing with them.
Thank you for listening some bits of my story!
By Aisha Cruse
It's fall, and that means that for most of your favorite Boston dance companies, the performance season is just beginning! I've rounded up a few events to keep in mind between now and December, but I'll be back in October with monthly picks. Let's dive into dance like dogs into leaf piles!
Friday, Sept 30 - Sunday, Oct 9
Presented by Highland Street Foundation
and Citi Performing Arts Center
Price varies, often free!
So much dance, and so much of it free! Check out Around the world in 80 Dances at the Puppet Showplace Theater, Argentine Tango at Dance Union in Union Square, Urbanity Dance Open Rehearsal at Urbanity Dance in South End Boston, Street Pianos, and of course the opening night pARTy! Go to the website to check out the full list of events, and you can sort by dance, music, visual art, or their special series, Art of Food. There's really something for everyone.
Friday & Saturday, Oct 21 & 22 @ 8pm
Stakes is High, a shared evening of dance
Featuring Jacksonville Dance Theatre & James Morrow/The Movement
At the Julie Ince Theater in The Dance Complex
Central Square, Cambridge
$15 students/seniors, $20 bda, $25 general
I'm excited pretty excited to see theses two companies working in one place. From the Dance Complex press release: "Stakes is High will feature a variety of works from James Morrow, JDT resident choreographers Rebecca R. Levy (a Boston native) and Tiffany Santiero, and other notable artists."
Saturday, Nov 5 @ 8pm
by Exit Dance Theater
At Green Street Studios, Central square, Cambridge
This company hails from Newburyport, MA, and they've been dancing for 30 years. I've never seen them and they've been given such a glowing review that I'm pretty keen to see them for myself. Get tickets while you can, and check out the review at the link.
Friday & Saturday, Nov 11 & 12 @ 8pm
Portal: stories from the edge
Presented by Luminarium Dance
At BU Dance Theater, Boston
$22 students/seniors, $27 general
Luminarium is at it again, bringing us an evening-length show of their stunning work at Boston University Dance Theater. This year's offerings include musical collaborations with composer Christos Zevos and singer/songwriter Mali Sastri of Boston-based band Jaggery. Come watch this Monkeyhouse favorite in action.
Mark your calendars for December! 12 Dancers Dancing and the Winter Wonder Festival will be returning to the Dance Complex with a new fun line up of wonderful companies and choreographers!
Friday & Saturday, Dec 16 & 17 @ 8pm Tuesday, Dec 27 - Friday, Dec 30 @ 8pm 12 Dancers Dancing Winter Wonder Festival Performances
At the Dance Complex in Central Square At the Dance Complex in Central Square
N: This is your third ChoreoFest but the first as choreographer. What are you most nervous about regarding this year's ChoreoFest?
AC: I'm always pretty anxious about setting my work on other people. When I'm the one performing, when I'm inside my own work, I'm not nearly as self concious about how the movement and ideas read. When I'm putting on the director's hat, I get so much more critical of my ideas. I'm definitely nervous that I'll trip myself up.
N: What's your favorite memory of a previous ChoreoFest?
AC: Oh my gosh that moment when the yarn ball hit Sam in the head during dress rehearsal my first year. It was too perfect. There was no way to reproduce it, so we sort of accepted it as a one time perfect moment.
N: ChoreoFest is a controlled situation to create work in in terms of time and topic. What the first thing you hope to do once you get your dancers in the studio?
AC: Get comfortable. Really though, I'm going to be focusing on getting everyone comfortable with each other and with me. The parameters of the festival make it so that the more comfortable we are and the more trust we have in each other, the faster we can get things done.
N: Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru" for the entire festival. How have you incorporated outside voices/mentoring in the creation of new work in the past? What's a question you often have about your work for someone outside of the creation process?
AC: Karen has given me constant feedback in the time we've been working together, but coming off the Pilobolus workshop I think the thing I'm going to ask the most is "What do you see?" In the past I've been very precious with my work, and I'm hoping Pilobolus has broken me of the habit. I want to ask about the moments that stand out and and build on them, and it will be interesting to see whether what I think is interesting and what Karen thinks is interesting matches up or diverges.
N: If you could pick any performer from any time to set a piece on who would it be and why?
AC: I'm reinterpreting this question because what I actually want is for Martha Graham to set a piece on Pilobolus (any iteration, really, they're all pretty spectacular). Her dancing has such an intensely sculptural element; even though they're vastly different schools I feel like they would have made amazing choreography together. So I guess I'm saying I want to set a piece on Pilobolus, but as Martha Graham. #lifegoals
N: Who are your mentors?
AC: Karen Krolak and Nicole Harris have been such driving forces in my life, I don't think I would ever have done ChoreoFest as a choreographer if they hadn't asked. To be fair, Karen and Nicole are less "you can do this" coaches than "can you do this by friday" coaches. They know you can do it, or they wouldn't ask.
N: What's something that you feel you learned from them that you want to pass on to people you mentor?
AC: Perfection is boring. If your choices are perfect or unique, pick unique. There are no mistakes. They're usually the best part of a dance.
N: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
AC: Monkeyhouse can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as here at MonkeyhouseLovesMe.com. I can be found on Instagram and Twitter as well as on my Dance Every Day YouTube channel!