Sam Mullen: You used to dance with Monkeyhouse a bit more regularly before you went to grad school. We are so excited to have you back working with us again! What are some ways you keep dance in your life?
Sarah Friswell Cotton: I use dance as exercise all the time. It helps keep me active and helps keep me happy when life gets crazy. I try to take dance classes when I can but it's hard to get into the city where the classes I want to take are happening.
Dance and performance impacts my teaching all the time. I use my performing to try to engage my students all the time. We even create dance moves to help remember different science ideas. I use my expression and performance techniques as much as I can. It also makes my job more fun.
SM: You grew up dancing with Nicole and Karen at Impulse Dance Center. The piece you are performing for this concert came out of an adult tap class you took at Impulse just last year. Can you talk about transitioning from being a student to the world of Monkeyhouse?
SFC: It's funny because I have known Nicole for a very long time in a number of capacities so the transition has not been something I've put much thought into. She has been my babysitter, a family friend, a teacher, a mentor, a company director, and now a friend so it has felt like a very seamless transition to be performing together now.
SM: In addition to dancing you also sing. At times you can even be found with an a cappella group based out of Brookline! What do you think draws you to those two art forms?
SFC: I think my passion for performing is what keeps me looking for opportunities like Monkeyhouse and like a cappella. I really enjoy performing and being in front of an audience. It is really thrilling and really fun to have an audience enjoy watching you or listening to you. I guess, for this performance, they will be watching AND listening since I'm performing in a tap piece.
Musing Prompt #46.329 (premiere)
Improvisation Prompt by Karen Krolak
Performed by Caleb Howe, Elyssa Berg, Nicole Harris, Olivia Scharff and Sam Mullen
Music by Twink the Toy Piano Band
Special Thanks to Aisha Cruse
Choreographed by Nicole Harris
Performed by Sarah Friswell Cotton, Olivia Scharff, Nicole Harris
Costumes by Nicole Harris
Special Thanks to Kelsey Griffith, Impulse Dance Center
Ukiyo (Japanese) - the “floating world”; a place of fleeting beauty and living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life.
Choreographed by Karen Krolak in collaboration with Sam Mullen
Performed by Sam Mullen
Music by Twink the Toy Piano Band
Sam would like to thank Karen for the encouragement, freedom of expression and constant support.
4 things (2018)
Choreographed by Elizabeth Powers in collaboration with the dancers
Performed by Michelle Boilard, Michela Doherty, Sarah Feinberg, and Elizabeth Powers
Music by Mystified
Costumes by Elizabeth Powers
Choreographed and Performed by Caleb Howe and Nicole Harris
Music by Francois Couture
Sound Design by Nicole Harris
Umbrella Design by Karen Krolak
Special Thanks to Karen Krolak and Peter-John de Kock
Voetstoots (Afrikaans) - refers to something, usually sold, with all its faults and without guarantees - “As is”
* Created as part of Monkeyhouse’s Choreography Mentorship Program
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!