By Nicole Harris
Learn more about NACHMO and take the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge by following us on Instagram!
Nicole Harris: This is your third NACHMO which means it’s Collective Moment’s second birthday this month! What have you learned through the process of starting a company? What are your goals moving forward?
Kaylee Mahan: I am so excited for our second birthday month and am so excited to share it with you all!!! I have learned so many incredibly things.
N: You were part of the aMaSSiT program in 2022 (alongside Circe, Lila, Tess, and Soumya who are also part of NACHMO this year!). The piece you created has developed quite a bit since then. Can you talk a bit about your choreographic journey from aMaSSiT to now? When did you feel most successful? What are you looking for to keep your momentum going into 2023?
KM: Man oh man - first and foremost being apart of aMaSSiT was and is still one of the best experiences of my life, as a person, choreographer, dancer! I found community, happiness, and good healthy dance connections! It was so lovely to be in a shared space of artists of all styles and just share! As for my choreographic journey - I’ve taken a lot of time and put more thought into recent works, allowed myself to really slow down with some movement and approaches.
I’m honestly not to sure where I have felt most successful - thats one that I think I have to ponder on!
To keep my momentum going into 2023 I think is to just really keep diving into making connections and communication with my fellow artists! To create and move for nothing else other than to just move - I’m really excited to follow the daily prompts of NACHMO - i enjoy being able to follow along prompts and see what comes up and out of it.
N: The piece you made for aMaSSiT was a solo and has since included more people. Can you talk about the process of development, especially with the topic being so personal for you?
KM: he original work I envisioned expanding from aMaSSiT didn’t happen in the way I expected - I shifted it towards a duet which I hope to eventually grow into a possible evening length work from duet - group slowly continuously adding people in as the work progresses. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded around people who get being human and allow the space and room for it . I originally looked at the duets I was making as if they had nothing to do with the original solo, which I’ve come to be entirely incorrect in that I just didn’t see their embrace yet, if that makes any sense at all!
N: You live in Worcester and frequently make the trek back and forth to Boston/Somerville/Cambridge for rehearsals and performances. How can programs like NACHMO Boston better serve artists who live in the middle of the state, not just in the greater Boston area?
KM: Personally I don’t mind the drive but it is often quite a trek! I think maybe keeping in mind when scheduling events that some artists may being driving an hour plus back, sometimes late at night. It’s a choice that I choose to make but in reflecting to see if I had anything valuable to share, and thats something I think! However scheduling is so difficult…!
N: Monkeyhouse and NACHMO Boston believe that we wouldn’t be here without the support of our community. Who is one of your favorite local choreographers and why?
KM: JUST ONE! Oh my goodness well I’d like to name a few if able and you can pick and choose if you’d like, in no order what so ever:
I saw these two separate artists work at a show that we were in together this past July, I believe, and I often think about how lovely it was to see their creations. Core memory made!
Pearl Young: insta @pearlyoung21
Brett Bell: insta @bmbe11
Tess Saoirse Liddy @tess.saoirse
Gwen McGovern @gwen_mcgovern
By Nicole Harris
Next up on the NACHMO Boston interview list is the one and only Evolve Dynamicz. I am so excited to be working with them not only as choreographers but as co-hosts of our Mental Health Happy Hours! You can join us any Tuesday or Friday in January at 7:30pm EST! You can always find the link to Happy Hour on the front page of our site.
To learn more about Evolve, Collective Moments, NACHMO Boston, and to follow the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge, follow us on Instagram!
N: Evolve Dynamicz is co-hosting Mental Health Happy Hours as part of NACHMO Boston this year. Why are these mental health breaks so valuable to you?
Evolve: We believe taking the time to focus on something that sparks joy (like dancing!) is important for our sanity, especially during this pandemic. We put on a production in October 2019 called LUCIDITY that Monkeyhouse was also involved in! The production was a series of vignettes about people’s experiences with mental health and illness: written, danced, choreographed, and spoken. We also partnered with a national non-profit called, This is My Brave, whose tagline is “storytelling saves lives” and we’ve really adapted that mindset as well. Normalizing conversations of mental health is essential to making it out of this pandemic on the other side. We are not only losing lives to COVID-19, we are also losing lives to the effects of social isolation on top of the preexisting systemic issues which add to the burden of mental illnesses. And we believe that community support is one of the best ways to combat this by enhancing mental health and wellness. And so, we are excited for others to join us and take a moment to take care of our mental health together, as a community.
N: Kaylee, what made you decide to start your own company?
Kaylee: I could write you a novel on why I decided to start my own dance company simply because I could talk forever and ever about dance. Instead I’ll give the short answer. I decided to start my own dance company because there is nothing more interesting and exciting for me than choreographing and getting to work with people. It has always been a dream of mine to create my own dance company! So, I decided to just go for it and here we are! Why wait to chase your dreams, life is too short to not wake up and do what you love to do everyday!!!!
N: This year’s NACHMO is different from anything we’ve done in the past, with all events entirely virtual. How will you change your process to deal with the obstacles 2021 brings us? What is the first thing you will do when the month begins?
Evolve: We shifted to Zoom rehearsals at the beginning of the pandemic and have been working that way since. So we’ve had some time to work out the kinks of virtual rehearsals. We’ve also put together a few films already, but not yet in one month’s time! We hope that by providing Kaylee with our pre-established virtual rehearsal structure, she will have more space to focus on creating and teaching her choreography!
Kaylee: This first thing I am doing is having a (Virtual) meeting with everyone in the piece, sort of as a check in to see where we are all at! We all have different living circumstances etc, which is something important to be mindful of. I am doing this piece completely stationary which I am excited to play with. In having that challenge, I hope it helps alleviate some of the potential pressure/ anxious feeling of wanting to be able to dance but not having the proper space. Again, for me as a choreographer and individual it is important for me to be aware of everyone as individuals and try to keep in mind the dancers needs and/ or challenges!!!!
N: Evolve Dynamicz has participated in NACHMO Boston several times in the past. This year you are collaborating with Kaylee Mahan’s new company, Collective Moments Dance Company, which is a new way to tackle the month long challenge. What are you most excited about in this process? What are you most nervous about?
Evolve: We are so excited to mentor Kaylee and support her through this process.
Lisa: After knowing Kaylee since she was 7, it has been inspiring to watch her through high school, college (as an Evolve apprentice, too!), and now launching her own company.
Nicole: I have not had the pleasure of knowing Kaylee as long as Lisa has, but she has been with us as an apprentice since our first production as a company SPACES in 2017 and it has been a pleasure having her on this journey with us! (She is now a full member since graduating college in May.) I remember in SPACES we did an improvised piece and I was injured at the time, so I was improvising while sitting on a prop we had built for the show. She came over to me during the performance, danced with me while I was seated, and the piece ended with us hugging. I knew in that moment that our souls connected on a deeper level and that our dance careers would be intertwined for years to come. We are very excited to both be a part of her new company and watch her grow as a leader and artist. The only thing that we are nervous about this month is hitting ceiling fans as we are dancing in our homes!
Kaylee: Nicole that moment will stay with me forever. I truly cannot begin to come close to expressing my gratitude and love for these two people! They truly are an inspiration to me everyday and I cannot thank them enough for sharing their dance journey with me! I still cannot believe I have been with Evolve since basically the beginning and I had never gotten the chance to be a part of this event! I am very excited! I think I am most excited to honestly start the new year off creating a new work! I can have quite the difficulty in trying to make decisions/ be decisive, but, I feel with the prompt of having a month to do it will help push me to make decisions and be decisive. And I think that is also what I am most nervous about.
Luminarium - we really look up to Luminarium as a company doing things that we hope to be doing in the next 5 years. A lot of the decisions we have made in growing our company have been inspired by Luminarium!
Ellen Oliver - Nicole had the pleasure of participating in The Dance Complex’s aMaSSit residency and was inspired by her thoughtful and carefully curated body of work. Lisa got to meet her this past October when we were performing at the Starlight stage and we were both mesmerized by her choreography and movement involving tinfoil! She is such an elegant mover, choreographer, and filmmaker! She is also producing a film festival this winter that everyone should check out!