A chat with DanceBARN Collective, partners for NACHMO Connect

NACHMO and DanceBARN Collective are partnering to bring you NACHMO Connect! Our goals are to give choreographers who do not live near a NACHMO hub, live in rural communities, or don't have a dance community readily available a chance to perform their work! Check out the event on Sunday, February 10th: facebook.com/events/2038619596437100

NACHMO Connect.jpg

What made you decide to participate in NACHMO for the first time? What inspired you to join NACHMO?

We met Annalisa Ledson, NACHMO's NYC Producer, when she attended the DanceBARN Festival in 2017. She is electric and amazing at bringing people together! After the 2018 Festival, we started having some really interesting dialogue about the NACHMO structure and how it could be altered just a little bit to work well in rural communities or for choreographers that are isolated for any reason. The work thatDanceBARN does to bring dance to rural communities (and rural experiences to professional dancers, too!) seemed like an awesome collaboration to create NACHMO Connect! 

NACHMO Connect Performers: Molly Johnston, Chelsey Dagen, Suzanne Svare, Alyssa Berube, Sara Anderson, and Andrea Erlandson

NACHMO Connect Performers: Molly Johnston, Chelsey Dagen, Suzanne Svare, Alyssa Berube, Sara Anderson, and Andrea Erlandson

How did you tailor NACHMO Connect to meet the needs of your community?

DanceBARN is located in Battle Lake, Minnesota with a year-round population of under 1,000 residents and a professional dancer population of 1. DanceBARN helped create a Rural Dance Collective that makes up a group of 7 (and growing) rural-living dancers. They travel up to 100 miles to participate in weekly rehearsals from towns with populations as small as  256! Since our communities are so spread apart, it felt hard to gather our small communities for a performance. After realizing there were lots of other people wanting to participate in NACHMO, but didn't live near a hub, we worked with NACHMO to create an accessible performance platform using Facebook Live! 


How did your backgrounds help you build the DanceBARN Collective? What served as your inspiration?

After going through the graduate program at the University of Oregon, we both ended up in Minnesota pursuing careers in dance and dance education. With dreams of wanting to host a dance festival in Battle Lake (Molly's hometown) and wanting to start a collective with local dancers and artists - DanceBARN was born! We just started with planning events and creating a festival that we had craved as artists ourselves. Something that was affordable, engaged the community, and brought artist from all the over the country together. Truly, we make it up as we go and feel passionate about using dance as civic engagement in our communities.  


What was an initial struggle and how did you help overcome it? For example, how do you create an audience in a rural area?

Creating an audience can definitely be a challenge, but the community of Battle Lake and surrounding areas are excited about the new things we are introducing to the community. We are deliberate about bringing our events IN to the community - going where the people are. A lot of pop-up events and performances surprise our audience with dance, and encourage participation in dance through things that were already familiar to the community like the summer parade, square dancing, potlucks, and flashmobs. We also have talked a lot about how someone can participate in dance in many ways - as an observer, as a mover, etc. 

Another challenge we faced in the beginning was finding other dancers and artist in the local area to collaborate with. We just kept putting ourselves out there and talking to people about what we were aspiring to be! Now we have a great group of dancers that we've been able to connect with and organize some get-togethers to be creative with and just be able to move together.


What inspires you about working in a rural community? What are the advantages?

What inspires us is seeing people experience a connection with dance. Whether it's an emotional or physical connection, we love to see them be excited about watching themselves in a screendance they've helped create, or feel accomplished and proud that they took their first ballet barre class. Our goal is to bring dance and other dance experiences to communities that may not have such opportunities living in a rural area - and sometimes it's almost easier for them to find appreciation for the values of dance because it's new. We are also continually inspired by the value our community and its citizens have when it comes to our festival. It's so easy to think, "Wow! How great for your small community that all these dancers from NYC are coming to teach your community members stuff!" when really, we've learned that the connection goes both ways. Our community continues to offer a new perspective on what it means to be "rural" in America and we truly believe that our citizens offer as much to the DanceBARN experience as the dancers attending!


Any advice for people who want to start their own NACHMO hub?

JUST DO IT! The NACHMO staff is incredibly generous with their time, gracious, and easy to work with. Supporting new relationships in your city, town, or neighborhood is always a good idea! 

Who are the producers/curators, dance or other artforms, that you enjoy following or are inspired by?

Ashley Hanson, Department of Public Transformation

Cara Hagen

Naomi Schliesman

Michelle Anderson

Robert Uehlin Films

Current Harbor

Michelle Obama 

Molly Johnston and Ayumi Shafer

Molly Johnston and Ayumi Shafer

Website: dancebarncollective.org 

Instagram: @dancebarncollective



DanceBARN Collective is a nonprofit organization committed to using dance as a voice to build community. By connecting dancers, educators, choreographers, and community members through various dance events, DanceBARN is devoted to bringing dance to rural communities. Founded in 2014, co-directors Molly Johnston and Ayumi Shafer, have hosted artists from all around the country for an annual dance festival in Battle Lake, Minnesota. Just starting its fifth year, Johnston and Shafer have increased their involvement in the Battle Lake community as well as in surrounding rural towns. Johnston, having studied dance previously in Philadelphia, and Shafer, in San Francisco, the two first met in graduate school at the University of Oregon in 2011. After earning MFA degrees in dance, they reunited in Minneapolis in search for something they could be passionate about. Always wanting to host a festival in her hometown, Battle Lake, Johnston was eager to get something started. Shafer was excited about starting a collective where dancers and other artists could have an environment to create, learn, and share. Together they have continued to organize community performances, residencies, screendance projects, and festivals hosting both professionals in dance as well as some middle schoolers for their first ever Youth Camp. Recently, they were commissioned to choreograph for an original musical, Otter Tales: The Musical, produced by PlaceBase Productions in Minnesota. Johnston and Shafer also be traveled to San Deigo, California in October for the National Dance Education Organization’s annual conference to present their accepted proposal in which they discussed their work in rural communities. In the near future, DancBARN plans to expand their residency program and initiate more collaborations with other artists and community members. 


Interview with Dance a Day in the Month of May: Jess Grippo

Photo credit: Hanna Agar

Photo credit: Hanna Agar

What made you decide to participate in NACHMO for the first time?

I’m a huge fan of creating in the moment, and I love having deadlines! I like to call them lifelines, actually, because whenever there’s a date that I know I need to complete something by, it gives me and my creativity life. The 1 month time frame of NACHMO is the perfect amount of time to get my choreographic butt into action.


What was an initial struggle when creating a piece in just a month, and how did you help overcome it?

Can’t say there was much struggle… if anything, choosing the music was a challenge. Me and my group pieced together choreography together using prompts without music, and then would test it out with different kinds. Finally we landed on a combination of a live cello and pop music.


How did you feel about the relatively short work time? (NACHMO is generally dedicated to a one-month creative process in January.)

Loved it.


What feedback did you receive from the studio and/or the theater showings? Did you continue to show your NACHMO piece?

We got great feedback from the studio showing. Having the live cellist with us seemed to work really well and add a dimension into the piece.

We continued working, but ended up creating an entirely new piece. However, the momentum from NACHMO stuck!

Photo credit: Hanna Agar

Photo credit: Hanna Agar

What inspired you to start You Can Dance Again? How has it influenced your own career?

I was inspired to start YCDA because it was the kind of thing I wished I had had when I was returning to dance years ago. Back then, it was about 7 years after I had quit ballet and the professional dance track I was on, I knew wanted to dance again, but in a different way. I didn’t want to go back to a formal/strict/competitive environment that a lot of classes in NYC can be. I also didn’t want to do Zumba, which seemed to be the only other non-professional dance alternative!

So I decided to start dancing on my own, alone in my room or in the park, mostly. Making dance videos of my process was a way I discovered to not be so alone in it, and to add that creative/expressive element. Starting up YCDA a few years later was a way to invite other re-emerging dancers to join me. In sharing my dance videos, I realized I wasn’t alone—there were other dancers-at-heart out there who were craving a safe space to get back to their body and creative expression. So I started teaching the kind of classes that I wanted: combining a basic warm up, some improv/freestyle, and collaborative choreography. Thus, You Can Dance Again was born.


What is your favorite part of Dance-a-Day in the Month of May?

Dance-a-Day in the Month of May is my annual dance-everyday challenge. It started back in 2014 when I made a dance video in the park on May 1st and decided to keep it going. It not only revived my body and creative spirit, but it also connected me to all kinds of people and brought more joy into the world. So I did it again the following year and started inviting people to join me. Now, it’s become a thing where each day has a theme, and I send out daily one-word prompts that create a guideline or inspiration for your dance. Some people choose to make dance videos, and that is my favorite thing ever! Instagram and our Facebook Group starts blowing up with people all over the world doing their dances. Check out the hashtag #danceinmay2018 to see this year’s creations!

Photo credit: Peter Koloff

Photo credit: Peter Koloff

Who are the dance creators you enjoy watching?

I love dance creators who bring story and humor, but also depth, into their work. A few who come to mind are Ryan Heffington and Pina Bausch, and in the local NYC scene I recently loved seeing Deborah Lohse and LMnO3. I’m also a huge fan of improvised dance and love shows like Dancify That where dances are created and shared on the spot.


How do you find an audience for your work?

I like to think that I let the audience find me. Anytime I’ve been overly aggressive in outreach and trying to fill seats or get views, I get burnt out, it feels forced, and doesn’t really work. But when I stay true to my process, share things from a place of authenticity and real excitement, it seems like people naturally flock. I also like to keep my work really accessible for all people—not just the dance audience. Being transparent about the process and using language that is conversational, rather than jargony, are a couple of examples of this. When people can relate to you as a human and what you’re saying and sharing, they naturally want to support it and be there.


Any advice for budding choreographers?

There are no rules. And if you feel like there are, feel free to break them. You don’t need an MFA or a stamp of approval from anyone to claim yourself as a dancer and a choreographer. Create what feels authentic to you, what pulls your soul forward. The world needs creative expression of all kinds, and your voice matters. If the desire to create is in you, it means there’s someone out there who needs your work in the world. This might sound dramatic, but it might even save their life—or yours. Don’t hold back your dance voice.

Tickets for The Dance Rebels’ Revival Show: https://www.jessgrippo.com/dance-rebels-revival-show

Follow Jess and her projects!

Personal site https://www.jessgrippo.com

Email: jess@jessgrippo.com

Instagram: @jessgrippo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessgrippodances

Photo credit: Hanna Agar

Photo credit: Hanna Agar




Interview with choreographer and NACHMOx participant, Claire Baum of Linden Movement Lab

In 2017 Claire Baum founded a new company, Linden Movement Lab, and began choreographing a series of duets, each built to process a different aspect of the current political climate. Together these duets are an evening length work called 1.1.17 - ‘non-linear physically embodied timeline of the last year in politics’, which premiered after a six-month residency at The Tank.  


What inspired you to join in on NACHMOx?

I have done NACHMOx twice now. The first time I joined I simply wanted to be a dancer, to help someone else process and realize their vision. I am typically a creator–choreographing all the works I am affiliated with, whether I am dancing in them or not–and I wanted a chance to step back and use my skills for someone else. This time I danced for Ainesh Madan, who actually also went to Bard.

The second time I participated in NACHMOx, I was a choreographer. I had this piece churning in my head that I was sure I was going to set on myself, even though it didn’t feel right. And of course because it didn’t feel right, I kept putting it off. I joined NACHMOx this time around in the hopes of beginning to physicalize my imaginings–it was really my choreographic kick in the pants. Initially, I had been paired with three women, so I thought I was going to have to put off the piece again, but I got lucky during that first meeting because we were all swapping dancers and groups. I got paired with Molly Gorin, and she helped me build that piece that was churning, The Face Of Boredom, into what it is today.

How did you feel about the relatively short work time?

As a dancer, the short work time is a challenge. But it also makes you rely on your skills, your knowledge, and everything you have stored in your back pocket from years and years of learning and work. It is kind of exhilarating.

As a choreographer, I think setting any other piece would have been daunting. I think a group piece especially, or walking in without a clear vision or an ‘anything goes’ attitude, could be incredibly overwhelming. And of course booking rehearsal space is its own beast. But as I say–I was lucky, I was paired with Molly Gorin, who was willing to come to my apartment to rehearse and was willing to try this piece that had been flying around my head for months. We made the piece in four 2hr rehearsals.

Did you receive any feedback from NACHMOx?

The biggest, piece of feedback we got from the whole process was from Meghan and Rosalind (who run The Tank) and who happened to be in the audience for the show that I choreographed for. After the show they asked if I had a full show and if I would like to present it as part of a residency at The Tank. I said, “Give me a year!”

And now we are finishing up our residency with two shows at The Tank: April 29th and May 5th. Ticket link: http://thetanknyc.org/dance/992-1117

Your piece has a political leaning. How did the current climate influence your process?

Haha, my piece is probably falling over with politics at this point. The current climate, our response to it, and just generally what it's like to be Strong Inquisitive Sensitive Women today is the work.  Here is the spiel I have on my website about the show:

1.1.17 is the physical manifestation of a shared imperative, an urgent physical and mental need to respond to what is happening around us. Based on research, articles, memes, comedians’ commentary and our own in-depth analysis and opinions, 1.1.17 has challenged its collaborators to stay engaged. 1.1.17 is a non-linear embodied timeline of the last political year in the U.S. Anchored by that date (January 1st, 2017) and the feeling of dread that many of us had before anything happened, 1.1.17 physically articulates our side of the conversation. We hope that this show can also serve as a catalyst for conversations with you, our community.

You also have a very collaborative process. How did you arrive at this decision? How was it working with others?

The Fierce Women who make up Linden Movement Lab are a joy to work with. And the show by nature is collaborative. I am very process-based; I like research and learning from others. I am not sure when I decided this, or why, but the premise of 1.1.17 is that I asked each of my collaborators to suggest to me a topic about the current political climate that they each felt passionate about; those topics became the subjects of our research and conversations and my creation. Each dancer in their section has the power to suggest and veto and has at some point been asked to be an audience–or as I call it ‘a pair of outside eyes’–for other sections so we can get external feedback and feel a cohesiveness throughout the show.

Who are the dance creators you enjoy watching?

Nora Chipaumire without a doubt is one of my long time inspirations and loves. Her work is theatrical and moving and pulls so many elements together to create an entire world for you to live in.

Tiffany Mills’ After the Feast was full of striking imagery and tangible tension. I love a good ‘pregnant pause.’

Bill T Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Chaple/ Chapter was incredible to me. I got to see the full video in college (I wish I had been able to see it in person) and I found it riveting the way he wove together current events, storytelling, dance and all these elements of design.

And Alexandra Beller made this piece called US back in 2007 or 2008 that I learned about as I got to college. It is political and strong and direct to the audience.

I have so many other works that inspire me but these are a few… and they are all social/ political. Because I truly believe that who ever said “art is a mirror with which we see the world” is right.

Any advice for budding choreographers?

Really look at the work you a creating. Step outside it and look at it like you know nothing about it and notice what you see. And then see if that is in line with what you wanted to make. And SHOW IT TO OTHER PEOPLE! Ask for their honest feedback, collect all of that, and then decide what you want to keep and what doesn’t matter to you. More information is always better than less.


Claire Baum, originally from Portland, Oregon, is a graduate of Bard College. There she had the pleasure of learning from: Aileen Passloff, Maria Simpson, Peggy Florin, Leah Cox, and members of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. She’s performed and choreographed nationally and internationally: in Ghana, Jamaica, and New York. From 2012-2016 she choreographed and danced for KitchenSink Collective. As a freelance dancer, she performed with The Get Down/Pick Up Collective at Dixon Place, Safi Harriott for Dance Caribbean Collective, Laura Neese at Gibney Dance and the Lumen Festival, The Independent Artist’s Coop, and for Alexandra Beller’s Immediate Dances. Since moving to New York in 2011, Claire has worked administratively at The Joyce Theater’s DANY Studios and Joyce SOHO, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, The Field, and most recently with the Laban/ Bartenieff Institute for Global Water Dances.

MORE INFO: https://www.lindenmovementlab.org

Interview with Dancemaker app designer Henry Holmes

Photo Credit: Larson M Harley

Photo Credit: Larson M Harley

We sat down with Henry Holmes, a wonderful performer and designer who merged their passions to create an amazing free tool that help kickstart your time in the studio. If you enjoy our January NACHMO Prompts, you should definitely try out the Dancemaker app!

What inspired you to build the DanceMaker app?

The 92Y Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) has for a couple decades been improving their reach and efficacy by expanding programming and branching onto new platforms like the web. As a natural extension of DEL’s mission and vision — that every child should have an opportunity to dance in school — they approached me about developing a mobile application. We sat down and asked: What do teachers need to help them teach and plan movement classes more efficiently and effectively? How can we serve their needs? The project sprung from that initiative.

Who was your initial audience for the app?

Our essential user is a teacher in the NYC public school system who is looking to use a robust and well-designed pedagogical model to give their students an opportunity to get in their own bodies and experience classroom materials in another way. One of the core principles of this project is that by creating an app that’s free and easily available, we’re giving the educational community a resource to either expand their own concept of how dance is taught if they already have experience, or to get over the fear of uncertainty if they haven’t taught dance before. It allows for experimentation and helps it to happen in a thoughtful and critical way.

Photo Credit: Larson M Harley

Photo Credit: Larson M Harley

What do you hope people will use the app for?

One of the most exciting notes of feedback I’ve received is from a dancer who had been a Broadway performer. They sent an email expressing gratitude that they had found this tool to be an effective way to expand their own passion. The value of the DEL approach to movement really does have a lot in common with basic models for creativity and exploration. Anyone can pick up this app. It’s written in words people understand and you can start paying attention to those words and your body as you interpret them. It creates a tension between what you expect and what you can ask of yourself, which is fertile ground for creative learning.

At NACHMO we're all about removing roadblocks for creativity and creation. How do you see the DanceMaker app helping with this?

I would love for this application to become part of a choreographer’s toolkit, to be something that you can do with family and friends or to be a point of conversation around daily practice and composition. The ideas that this app is designed around are already present in a lot of our practices, and I think it’s part of a broader movement to reinforce those practices with community wisdom, experts’ insights, and thoughtful software.

Software is really good at doing certain things, including those relevant to dancers, dance teachers, choreographers, performers. Dance teaching artists deserve technology that meets us in our creative process, in the classroom and in the studio, to focus on the work we do and how to do it even better.

How did you get interested in dance and technology?

From an early age I was interested in information technology and computers. I’m also a lifelong performer and dancer. I had the luck of studying dance and technology in parallel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I started to think a lot about the human body’s relationship to digital interfaces, more so from a humanities perspective than a robotics or computational perspective. During that process I planted some seeds for an approach to design (in this case mobile application designs) that puts at the center of the process emphasizing questions of body and mind. So this project was a natural extension of that perspective and turned out to be a great fit.


How do you feel about technical literacy and how it affects the dance industry’s adoption of new tech?

I sense a stigma around using technology because we think of it as something that distracts and impedes healthy somatic practice. And that thought process comes from a reasonable place because most of the software we use isn’t designed by or for people who practice dance or movement in general. There is a lack of trust in digital things. For me, rather than writing off digital things, I believe we have to build new tools from a healthier perspective that can show us as a community what we’re capable of doing with these systems and how we can play a role in shaping the future of these interfaces.

Are there any interesting apps or tech that you would recommend for dance enthusiasts? Any blogs, instagrams, twitter feeds, etc. to follow?

A shout-out to Barry Blumenfeld, my direct advisor on the DEL project who writes a technology column for Dance Teacher magazine on all sorts of topics. I also encourage dance enthusiasts to seek out technical expertise everywhere—read about augmented reality, website design and artificial intelligence, learn about digital privacy and human computer interaction, find ways to apply your knowledge of the body to the digital things being designed today and tomorrow—it all matters, and there’s plenty of accessible information if you go looking for it.

Photo Credit: Larson M Harley

Photo Credit: Larson M Harley

Any new projects dance or tech on the horizon that you are involved in or excited about?

Dance-wise I’ll be performing with Jessica Lewis Arts at University Settlement’s Speyer Hall, May 18-20. Come by! As far as tech goes, work continues on Dancemaker (free for iOS and Android), I’m working on the National Parks Service app, an Iñupiat dictionary, and a dating app called SmileBack.

Check out DEL, the Dancemaker app, and more of Henry via the links below!

Dance maker app

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dancemaker/id1180809091?mt=8

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dancemaker.android








Interview with Alexis Robbins of kamrDANCE

Photography by Daniel Gagnon

Photography by Daniel Gagnon

We are thrilled to announce that Alexis Robbins, artistic director of kamrDANCE, is the featured choreographer for the 2018 NACHMO season. We sat down for a Q&A with Alexis:

Tell us a bit about your company and your background.

I started choreographing pieces for the first time in middle school for talent shows. Choreographing both tap and contemporary work has always felt natural. Even when I was younger I knew that I wanted to have my own company and spend the rest of my life creating as much as possible. I choreographed several competition routines for my studio throughout my high school career but it wasn’t until I got to college that I truly started finding my choreographic voice. I studied dance at Hofstra University and through the vast amount of opportunities and amazing guidance that I had throughout my time there, I was able to start building a solid body of work.

The first time I ever used the name “kamrDANCE” was for the hour long concert I produced and choreographed for my senior practicum. I knew that was what my company would be called. (KAMR are my initials – surprise, I don’t go by my first name!). Our first performance was in Cape Cod in August 2015, and since then we have performed at Triskelion Arts, Dixon Place, Actors Fund Arts Center, Hudson Guild Theater, Salvatore Capezio Theater, and the Arlington Center for the Arts (MA). We premiered my longest work yet, a 35 minute piece titled “Catch 22” in May 2017 at Dixon Place. This past November I released my first dance film creation titled “No More No More” which premiered at the Actors Fund Arts Center and will be shown again at the Center for Performance Research this coming February.

The goal of my work is to fuse tap, percussive movement, and contemporary/modern dance with humor and intricacy to create unique voices and investigate the necessity of supportive relationships, laughter, and absurdity. Also, more recently, I have been creating work about the double bind that women experience in society. If I can make an audience laugh out loud and also think deeply about the theme or message, then I feel I’ve done my job.

What is your choreographic process like?

I love quick, athletic, and nuanced movement, and I believe that’s evident in most of my work. Because I am a tap dancer, rhythmic and/or percussive movement as well as fast footwork is always involved in my contemporary choreography. As far as my process goes I feel like there are two pathways I take when creating new work. One method is spending a lot of time in the studio on my own just improvising and filming my improvisation. When I watch it back and see something I like that I want to expand on, I re-teach the improvisation to myself and then continue building from there. Another method is to spend time journaling and thinking about the bigger picture of the work – what story am I telling, how does the music influence the narrative, where are we beginning and ending in space, what are the motifs that will be seen multiple times and how can I manipulate them, etc. Then I enter the studio with these thoughts but without any planned movement and just create with my dancers on the spot. It always depends on how productive I feel I need to be in a certain rehearsal, but often I feel I am my most creative self when there’s pressure to make something in the moment. For the most part it’s a collaborative process with my dancers - though the ideas and movement are ultimately mine, I always allow and encourage feedback, suggestions, and edits from my dancers to ensure we all feel confident about the work we are presenting. Whenever I’m in the studio creating, I’m home.

This is your second time participating in NACHMO. What made you decide to do NACHMO the first time?

The reason I wanted to participate in NACHMO the first time in 2016 was because I felt it would be a good outlet for me to have a set time period in which to create a contemporary solo on myself. I’ve only ever created one other solo for myself originally in 2012, a tap solo that I performed six times on four different stages over a 4 year span. Though I create a lot of contemporary work, I generally only feel comfortable performing with my tap shoes on. So I wanted to push myself to make something new and embrace my insecurities in my technical abilities as a contemporary mover. I can’t say I love what I made, and admittedly I never returned to it (though maybe I should), but I’m glad I used NACHMO as a platform to push myself. Through the studio showing that I did I made a lot of new connections and received positive feedback that left me feeling as if I had definitely accomplished my goal and would participate in NACHMO again. And now here we are!

What are your plans for your NACHMO piece?

My plans for this year’s NACHMO piece are to expand upon a new work inspired by a section of my previous work “Catch 22.” For the first time in a few years I’m combining tap and contemporary dance into the same piece, along with text and some singing. This piece will also focus on the double bind that women experience in society, and more specifically hone in on the issues of catcalling, mansplaining, and the effects of dealing with demeaning experiences. I’m excited to continue this work, especially given the current events of the “#MEtoo” and “Times Up” movements. As a woman I feel it’s my duty to uplift other women and femmes and draw attention to these human rights issues.

What are your interests and pursuits outside of dance, and how do they inform your choreography?

Outside of choreographing I am a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine with special certifications in pre/post-natal and corrective exercise. I work with a wide variety of clients, many with physical and/or mental disabilities. I love helping people feel better and reach their goals by finding more efficient pathways of moving and rehabilitating injuries. I also teach tap and contemporary classes at two dance studios where I work with students that range from 7 to 18 years old. I truly enjoy teaching and helping people learn new skills, whether it’s a shuffle or a pull up, because knowing I helped someone take that next step is incredibly fulfilling. My training and teaching definitely inform my choreography by teaching me to be patient and regularly observe how people find ways to move when there is some sort of obstacle. When a client is coming from an injury, I have to be creative so that they can still strengthen their muscles and get a workout while avoiding patterns that could cause pain or harm. This translates into my creativity as a choreographer; if I can’t use my left wrist, what pathways should I take…?

Interview with NACHMO Alum Jerica Niehoff

What made you decide to participate in NACHMO for the first time?

My friend Jennifer Roit was the one who initially told me about NACHMO and got me interested in participating in the studio showing after I had expressed interest in working on choreography.

What inspired your latest NACHMO work?

My latest NACHMO piece was inspired by observing how humans in general don’t think that much about their consequences in their life. Specifically in how we damage our planet by day to day activities.

What was an initial struggle and how did you overcome it?

A struggle I had when creating the piece was making sure it was clear that each person in my piece was a different character telling their story, and we weren’t dancing to just dance. I overcame that by having very talented friends to work with who were able to take my choreography and understand the story I had in my mind and put everything together. 

How did you feel about the relatively short work time? (NACHMO is generally dedicated to a one-month creative process in January.)

I personally like having a time limit to create work. It is helpful in making me be a very organized choreographer and storyteller.

Did you receive any feedback from the studio and/or the theater show?

I did receive feedback after I did the studio showing this year. I got some costume tips and I also was given a lot of positive feedback on my choreography and dancers!

What made you decide to continue to develop your NACHMO piece?

When I registered for NACHMO I knew I had the time limit and I also knew I wanted to make the piece a little bit longer, so I was looking for ways to I could do that. I then applied for Westfest and was able to extend the piece by 2 minutes. I also wanted to have a chance to have the piece on stage at least one more time. 

Who are the dance creators you enjoy watching?

You can never go wrong when watching anything done by the Batsheva company as well as Alvin Ailey. I also always enjoy watching work that is created by Yoshito Sakuraba (Abarukas), Jennifer Archibald, and Shawn T. Bible.

Any advice for budding choreographers?

Keep putting yourself out there. Going out and seeing dance is also a great way to become inspired. Try not to be too harsh of a judge on your own choreography.


Interview with NACHMO Alum Laura Lamp

Choreographer and NACHMO Alum Laura Lamp dancing a work by Alaine Handa for A.H. Dance Company.

Choreographer and NACHMO Alum Laura Lamp dancing a work by Alaine Handa for A.H. Dance Company.

What made you decide to participate in NACHMO Film? What inspired your short film "Snow"?

I had choreographed a dance piece for NACHMO before, but I wanted to challenge myself and create a dance film in a month. "Snow" was inspired by the beauty of Park City, Utah.

Laura Lamp and another dancer  Parallax  choreographed by Laura for NACHMO 2015

Laura Lamp and another dancer Parallax choreographed by Laura for NACHMO 2015

How did you feel about the relatively short work time? (NACHMO is generally dedicated to a one-month creative process in January, allowing for some post-production in February.)

I loved having a short work time. I like to work on things slowly and take time to reflect on the process, but instead I had to focus on the task at hand and make clear decisions quicker than I usually do. That forced me to move forward confidently with my decisions. It only took one day to shoot everything I needed. The editing afterwards is what took the most time. 

What was an initial struggle and how did you help overcome it?
Dancing in several feet of snow in freezing temperatures was the biggest struggle in making this short. The environment changed the way I was able to move, and my approach was to surrender to the cold which ended up becoming part of the story.



How did you first get interested in working with a camera?
My boyfriend, Kevin Tadge is a filmmaker and suggested that I try making a dance film. The first one I made was well received and won a couple of awards, and so I've been experimenting ever since.

What do you think is a unique feature of being able to work with a camera vs. working for the stage?
Working with the camera lets me have more control over exactly what the audience focuses on. I love that I'm able to shoot in various locations and tie them together through editing.  

Still from the documentary Dreaming to Escape

Still from the documentary Dreaming to Escape

What do you miss in live performance that you would like to see captured more on film?
I don't think the ephemeral quality of live performance can't be replicated in film. There is a certain sort of magic that happens when people come together to watch a dancer or a group of dancers performing. Although that can't quite be captured on film, I love when I'm able to watch a film and then come back to it again after a period of time and notice how my reaction to it is different because I have changed and grown.

Who are the film creators you enjoy watching, be it with or without movement?
Elizabeth Wood really inspires me. I love what Celia Rowlson-Hall creates, Wim Wenders' Pina, Ron Fricke's Baraka, and of course anything by Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson

A current work in progress by Laura Lamp

A current work in progress by Laura Lamp

Any advice for budding choreographers/cinematographers?

The important thing is to keep creating. I've learned so much just by trying again and again to make dance films. That goes for life, too!

Check out more of Laura's work on instagram @lauralamp, on her website: lauramlamp.com, and of course on vimeo.

Interview with Adam H Weinert

Our final interview for your film inspiration is the multi-faceted Adam H Weinert. Adam is a performance-based artist born and raised in New York City. His work breaks out of traditional formats and includes technology in truly fascinating ways. Check out his answers and try something new yourself!

How did you get interested in working with a camera?

When I choreograph it’s hard for me to just sit at the edge of the room and watch. I want to get close to the action and move around. I was drawn to working with film and video because it lets you work with proximity, and translate that experience to the viewer. 

What was an initial struggle and how did you overcome it?

Not having the right equipment. Making friends with people who did.  

What was your initial inspiration for your innovative guerrilla work at MoMA?

That project, The Reaccession of Ted Shawn, came about after an invitation from MoMA to reconstruct and re-perform the early solos of Ted Shawn from the 1930’s. During the performances it felt as if everyone were watching me through their smartphones while they were tweeting, texting or taking photographs. Rather than ignore it, I wanted to engage these technologies and so created an app whereby people view the performances through their mobile devices.  The app turns your smartphone into a time machine, allowing you to see performances by Weinert and Shawn using augmented reality technology. By following directions on the project’s website which walks the viewer through five floors of the museum, the mobile app is able to recognize architectural details and museum signage in order to display the digital installation on your screen. The MoMA map is also “rigged”, allowing you to take aspects of the exhibition home with you or view them online.

How do you find an audience for your work in new spaces, on film, on stage, in the digital sphere?

When I launched The Reaccession of Ted Shawn, I was excited to receive critical acclaim from dance writers in Time Out New York, The Financial Times, and others, but more excited still to be written up by tech bloggers and cultural writers in Gizmodo, Gawker, and Hyperallergic. I am very interested in continuing to build bridges between these communities. The press tended to focus on the subversive, unauthorized aspect of the installation, an angle I invited and perhaps encouraged, but which only represents a part of the conversation I wanted to instigate. I’m more interested in creating new places and ways for museums, and those inside of them, to construct meaning. This installation would not be possible without the architecture of the space or participating members of the public. It is built, activated, and augmented by them.

What do you miss in live performance that you would like to see captured more on film?

I enjoy it when technology is used to bring the performance closer to the public. The first time I saw this done successfully was in William Forsythe’s Kammer/Kammer. Here, large television screens were suspended over the audience to reveal parts of the stage that were otherwise unseen. Technology can sometimes create an artificial distance or disconnection, but I love to see it used to make the experience more vital.

Who are the film creators you enjoy watching, be it with or without movement?

DV8 Physical Theater is still making some of the most incredible films from their live performances.  Michelle Ellsworth is another one of my favorite artists working in video.  

Any advice for budding choreographers cinematographers?

Just start doing it. Ask your favorite band if you can make a music video for them.  If they say no, do it anyway and send it to them. Try out a few different editing programs and see which one feels the most intuitive. Play around and don’t worry if it’s bad. Dance is establishing itself as a medium that can thrive outside of the concert hall and gain traction with new audiences. Be a part of the change that helps dance stay vital.

Adam H Weinert is a performance-based artist born and raised in New York City. He began his training at The School of American Ballet, and continued on to Vassar College, The Juilliard School, and New York University, where he recently earned a Master’s Degree under the tutelage of André Lepecki. Adam has danced with The Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company, The Mark Morris Dance Group, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Christopher Williams, and for six years served as the Artistic Associate to Jonah Bokaer. In addition to his performance work, Adam has been published in The New York Times, the Juilliard Journal, and as a featured profile in New York Magazine. He produced and choreographed an award-winning collection of dance film shorts screened nationally and abroad, and his performance works have toured to four continents including a number of non-traditional dance venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, The Tate Britain Museum, and The Tate Modern Museum. He was awarded Presidential Distinction and Scholastic Distinction from the Juilliard School, and in 2008 received the Hector Zaraspe Prize for Outstanding Choreography. He is currently Visiting Artist in Residence at Bard College.


NACHMO Boston 'Shorts' performances Jan 29-31

After a busy month full of creating, moving, sharing, collaborating, dancing and choreographing, it is time for our selected Boston NACHMO artists to showcase their creations! This weekend we are featuring 10 choreographers in NACHMO “Shorts,” a pre-show to the CATALYSTS performances at the Dance Complex. These showings are free to the public and we encourage sharing feedback to the artists. Here’s a rundown of the featured artists this weekend:


Performing Friday January 29th, 7:00-7:45PM

Juliana Utz / Turning Key Dance - From their FB page: “Turning Key Dance delivers clean lines, subtle nuances, and unique worlds, bringing contemporary ballet to a new light.”

Josie Bray - After working in musical theatre for 8 years, Josie had the opportunity to get a #kickinthepants from NACHMO and explore a new concert dance duet!

Lilly Cryan - This dancing artist / yoga instructor / choreographer / dance teacher / blogger will be performing a solo! See a short preview here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBFycl7hjRa/


Performing Saturday January 30th, 7:00-7:45PM

Deadfall Dance -  From their website: "Deadfall Dance, directed by Judith Wombwell, was founded to cultivate creative collaborations and to explore innovative techniques of developing movement. Besides the natural kinesthetic implications, the name derives from the Native American tradition of making use of downed wood; in a similar fashion, DeadFall Dance uses available resources. DeadFall consists of a group of artists located in the Greater Boston area. The work is strongly influenced by post-modern dance, the visual arts, multi media work, and is largely driven by explorations of literature, philosophy and man’s relationship to the natural world."

Meghan Carmichael - Check out Meghan’s trailer for her new NACHMO work: https://vimeo.com/152351519

Carlee Travis - Carlee will be showing her new work, “Touch Your Woman,” is a “series of wrestling matches” curated with collaboration of her dancers. Her conceptual dance is rooted in contact improvisation principles and explores the “potentialities of feminine aggression and intimacy.”


Performing Sunday January 31st, 6:00-6:45PM

Heather Brown - After having a successful show earlier this month at AS220 in Providence, RI, Heather Brown Dance will be presenting more of her work at NACHMO! Check out her work here: http://heatherbrowndance.com/

Jordan Jamil Ahmed - Check out Jordan’s artist feature blog post here! http://www.nachmo.org/blog/2016/1/24/nachmo-boston-dance-artist-feature-jordan-jamil-ahmed

Claire Johannes - Claire will be showcasing her work on the 31st, then showing it again on February 7th in the 6pm show. Her work is a structured improvisational duet with Jordan Jamil Ahmed, which “focuses on how to broaden our understandings of connection and contact within performative improvisational structures.”

Eugenia Kim / Penumbra:RME - Currently living in Hong Kong, Eugenia has put together her work through e-mails, videos, and skype sessions with her solo dancer, Katie Suyematsu. Her work will include video, live dance, and the poetry of Paula HaanSoo Junn. Check out her posts about her process here: http://penumbrarme.org/

Come check out all of these wonderful artists for free! Then, stick around for the CATALYSTS show right after these “Shorts,” all at the Dance Complex.