We are very excited to have several guest artists as part of reAct reBuild reCollect on July 27th at OnStage Dance Company in Malden. We have been slowly introducing you to all of the artists participating in the concert on social media but here's a look at two specific groups of guest artists!
can be yours right now by clicking here! Any tickets using the VIP Code MH10 not only are less expensive, but give a higher percentage of the ticket price to the artist. (psst, that's us!) VIP Code rates are NOT available at the door, so get yours today!
by Nicole Harris
For the past year I have been honored to have three former students return to the studio to take class as adults. It began with Olivia Scharff, who sweated out the summer with me last year at Impulse Dance Center during my adult tap class. When September rolled around she was joined by Kelsey Griffith and Monkeyhouse alum Sarah Friswell Cotton. Towards the end of our first ten week session these ladies approached me to ask if they could dance on the "big stage" in Impulse's end of year concert. LuAnn (Impulse's director) was more than happy to include three Impulse alumni in her show so we got down to work and the second ten week session was dedicated to creating a piece of choreography.
The piece they performed this June was to Waving Through a Window from the Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen. The choreography was intricate and the incredible music gave the piece body and character. However, the music also allowed for the dancers to hide within its orchestrations. Don't get me wrong, these ladies aren't lazy! But the fullness of the music overpowered some of the rhythms and counterpoints they were working so hard on, so we decided to also create a version of the piece with no music at all to be part of reAct reBuild reCollect in July.
The original plan was for all four of us to perform this new tacit piece but unfortunately, Kelsey tore her ACL this spring and will not be able to join us at the performance. However, you can still learn about the amazing things she, Sarah and Olivia are doing by clicking on their images below. It's exciting to see how people keep dance in their lives and these three are doing some pretty incredible work.
I can't describe to you how much fun it was to work with these ladies again. Teaching adults is a very different thing than teaching children or even teenagers. I loved seeing the different ways each of them had learned how to learn in the ten years since they last took class with me. I am impressed by their ability to see their strengths and also their weaknesses and not be afraid to ask for or offer help. I am honored to dance with them on July 27th and continue working with them in the future!
Nicole Harris: Can you tell me about the work you’ll be performing as part of the OnStage Summer Performance Series?
Kelley Donovan: We are developing a modern dance work using chance elements, numerology and imagery from the Tarot, Additionally, I am performing a recent solo and showing an old solo from 1994. Rozann Kraus will perform "Waltz news" featuring 6 dancers depicting images of the "false news" featured on social media.
N: Who are the dancers you’ll be working with?
KD: 10 dancers, some new and some whom I have worked with since 2007, The dancers include: Rose Gibney, Carolyn Jepsen, Crystal Heroux Jacqueline Wilkinson Jane Wong, Katie Logan, Kira Mathiesen, Lauren Sava Marva Yates , Samantha Wilson, Sarah Takahagi,, Tiffany Lau and Rozann's work features: Jacqueline Wilkinson, Jim Banta, Karen Klein, Kelley Donovan, Rozann Kraus, Dan Quinn and Samantha Wilson
N: You have a performance series of your own called the Third Life Performance Series. Can you tell us about it? How did it come about?
KD: Yes, the third life series has been going for 6 years now since 2012 and we have presented over 150 choreographers and groups! It is an informal series, designed to echo works in progress like the Judson Church Monday night showings in NYC. When I started the series there were few informal showing in Boston and I felt a need for a stepping stone to full concerts and full productions and a need to build community that comes from seeing one anothers work.
N: What are some amazing things you have been up to since we spoke in January?
KD: I have mostly been performing solo work, at Thang at Somerville Armory, Mayfair, Third life and performed w/ teXtmoVes and with Kraus and..... in Dance for World Community, We Create at Hibernian Hall, I also reset a new work on Boston dancers called "Transitional State" at Dance Complex, and created a commissioned work for Boston Moving Arts for the same show! It has been quite a busy year so far!
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.