By Nicole Harris
One of the best parts of this year’s NACHMO is that, because it’s entirely virtual, people can participate from wherever they are. I was thrilled when former Monkeyhouse artist, Elyssa Berg, chose to choreograph something! She moved to NYC a few years ago and it’s exciting to be able to work with her again!
Learn more about Elyssa and NACHMO, and play along with the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge by following us on Instagram!
N: What have you been doing since you moved to NYC? (P.S. We miss you!)
EB: Thank you, I miss you all too! Since moving I have been doing a variety of different things. Fitness has been a huge focus for me the past three years. I have been teaching for barre3 at the Long Island City studio where I am also a mentor to the instructors. For some time I was teaching Movement Education at a private school in Queens until the pandemic hit. I have also continued to take dance classes and have done some freelance work performing since I have moved.
N: How have you been handling quarantine? What have you been doing to keep moving and creating during this year? I know you started a new business that seems to be wildly successful…! Can you talk a little about it?
EB: Quarantine has definitely been a huge challenge for myself and I know it has been for many others too. Being in NYC, it was really difficult to shift life and adapt to living inside your small apartment. With so many people living around you even going for a walk at times felt almost impossible. As difficult as it has been thus far, it has also been a tremendous year of uncomfortable but necessary growth.
My employment has changed a lot since last March but I was able to adapt to teaching fitness classes online through Zoom. That has definitely kept me moving and given me some consistency during this time which I am so grateful for.
During quarantine I decided to open my own Etsy shop, String and Dowel. It consists of macrame pieces and handmade home decor. I taught myself how to create macrame a year ago as a way to create holiday gifts for friends and family and I honestly never stopped! I have even started to explore dip dying yarn and redoing furniture which have both been really fun ways to experiment and create without any expectations of the outcome.
N: What will you be making for NACHMO? Will you be working with dancers or on your own?
EB: I will be creating a solo for NACHMO. I am going to be choreographing, dancing, filming, and editing myself. I have created some dance films in the past with the help of other moving bodies but I am excited to approach this piece very differently than I have in the past.
N: You have performed for NACHMO before but this is your first time choreographing. What are you most excited about in this process? What are you most nervous about?
EB: Yes, I am very excited to be choreographing this time! I am most excited just to get back into the process of creating movement. I have been finding different ways of creating throughout other aspects of my life and I had recently taken a step away from dance, especially through 2020, so I am excited that NACHMO is serving as my way to get back to doing what I love. That makes me both excited and nervous at the same time. Since I am creating this piece for myself it makes it feel a lot more personal and vulnerable and that can always be a little scary to share.