Learn more about Cassandre here. To learn more about NACHMO, take the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge, and learn about where you can see these artists’ work, follow NACHMO Boston and Monkeyhouse on social media!
Nicole Harris: What will you be working on for NACHMO this year? In what ways will you be pushing yourself in new directions?
Cassandre Charles: This year I will allow myself to embrace stillness and smallness in my process. I’ll be continuing on the Dance on Film track for, This Black Artist, A Digital Visual Journal. This TIME based dance film is my arts journaling experience, prompted by working with NACHMO last year. I am pushing myself to have complete choreography for a “transition” vs. using improv to “tell a story”. I would love to see words like “and” “therefore” and the sound of breath in my body.
‘I am asking my body and brain to use the breathing, dance and reiki training I have received, (and continue to receive) to come together with joy and gratitude in choreography and self healing. And I want to dance!’
CC: My film was shown at the virtual 8th Annual We Create Festival (June, 2021) the Festival of You, Us and Them, The Dance Complex (September, 2021), and the City of Malden Winter Festival (December, 2021).
N: You have been BUSY in the last year! Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to and what you have coming up!
CC: I reconnected and performed with my neo-burlesque troupes, Lipstick Criminals and Slaughterhouse Society. It was fun to choreograph a 90s hip hop piece for the Crimz show and sociopathic clown act for the Society in October. It was a chance to just have fun and be silly after being away from each other for so long. Luckily, both troupes have members who are casted in The Slutcracker, a burly holiday tradition that usually keeps us very busy during the season. We had a smaller cast this year and all were vaccinated. Unfortunately, we followed suit of many theatre shows and cancelled our last closing weekend performances after a Covid exposure. Our producers were always about safety first. We were required to be vaccinated and they provided rapid tests. But, like much of indoor stage life, the pandemic is driving the artists’ calendar. It’s a lesson in accepting the new normal in exhibiting dance.
After a long, unexpected time-off, (thanks quarantine life) I am looking forward to using my Fall 2022 Monkeyouse @ ArtsAssembled Space Grant to work on filming for the NACHMO February event. I’ve peeked at the prompts and think this a perfect time for a ‘transition’ reel in my dance film journaling that challenges my choreographic skills.
CC: For me the difference I have noticed is the “when” I want to practice or produce in each medium. As I continue to view my dance journal I see that I am able to draw and dance, but not dance and draw. I don’t let myself go on the latter. Perhaps because I am a visual learner, to “see” a movement or shape then embody it is easier. I am excited about using NACHMO to explore dance then drawing as a prompt for creating work. I think it will help me let go of worrying about technique and just dance!
N: We love our local community! Who are some of your favorite local choreographers? And why?
CC: Marsha Parrilla, Danza Organica - I have learned a huge amount from Marsha’s workshops and was honored to be part of her first and most recent We Create Festival, celebrating women of color. Marsha has truly been a social justice warrior through her company’s work. Her dance aesthetic is strong and graceful, and she is generous with her curriculums in cultural storytelling and research.
Jenny Oliver, Modern Connections - Jenny’s choreography makes me feel like this is what I am supposed to do in the world. Her classes are fun, hard and you will walk away each time so proud of yourself because she has told you to “live” when you perform her center choreo. She answers every question and when you are lucky enough to see her perform, it is magical!
Jean Appolon, JAE Expressions - Jean takes me back to first Saturday dance classes in Haitian Folklore. I did not know all the connections to healing this grounded dance style has as a child. I learn and practice through JAE. His company members are just as kind in teaching and welcoming the community to move into healing.
I am SO excited to see Wisty Andres on the list of NACHMO participants. Wisty is a beautiful dancer with such control of their body. I have experienced their choreographic genius as a dancer, and their healer’s spirit in their mindful workshops.
And have to shout out Boston choreographers McKersin Previlus, LaKai Dance and Ronnie Thomas, Mystique Illusions. Both have a quality of movement that back up their beliefs and dance styles. It was an honor to see their growth as company founders and creative directors. They also promised I could jazz hands in their shows, a flare I think is underused.
Being from Boston, a predominantly white city, I saw a need to focus solely on Black dancers & choreographers in my first archival project. Boston’s black dancers deserve a space to know their works are exhibited with the best intentions and stored in ways that will preserve them for true historical research and reference in all the mediums possible.
It will also be a space for honoring our lost and living legend of multidisciplinary artists, who can be researched at the BPL. I want to support and honor black artists of all mediums.
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The Black Arts Sanctuary