Thursday, August 22, 2013

Behind-the-Scenes: The Making of Luminarium's "The One I Keep"

The following entry was posted to Merli's blog yesterday, but will hopefully give Luminarium's viewers a glimpse into the making of this new film. Enjoy!

by Merli V. Guerra

Similar to this weekend's events, this entry is right on the heels of the last. While Friday and Saturday brought 24 hours of loudness, fun, chaos, laughter, tapping, singing, shouting, and cheering, Sunday brought the waking stress of Luminarium's professional film shoot for The One I Keep (to debut at Luminarium's largest production of the year, Secrets & Motion: September 13, 14, and 15 at the Armory in Somerville MA). Yet to my surprise, the experience ended up being more successful than I could have asked for.

Jess Chang in The One I Keep, Film Still.
Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium 2013.

Three days later, the blisters on my right hand are finally fading away, having hand-cut over 1,600 pieces of paper to drop on my (poor) beautiful dancer Jess Chang over the course of 3 hours. Many sincere thanks go to both Jess (for her patience and masterful retrograding) and Kim, who spent the evening steadily dropping hundreds of pieces of paper from an old popcorn box in the upstairs mezzanine, only after jerry-rigging a MacGyver-style lighting setup for the shoot. Two music stands, clamp lights, and a shoelace later, we were good to go!

Jess Chang in The One I Keep, Film Still.
Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium 2013.

For days leading up to the shoot, friends and family would respond to my stress of falling paper with "So you just need to cut up recycled printed paper?" Unfortunately for my hands, brain, and the environment at large, I am far too picky an artist to let that pass. The purpose of this work was to create a film symbolizing the secrets we share versus the few we keep. In every relationship we embark on--be it friend, lover, family member, or mentor--there is always one thought we keep to ourselves. We may utter thousands of words in confidence to a friend, only to stop ourselves from admitting that one last thought...the one we keep.

Jess Chang in The One I Keep, Film Still.
Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium 2013.

In creating this work, it was thus very important to me to make each piece of paper meaningful. After months of preparation, it wasn't until the day of the shoot that I suddenly realized the perfect way to create exactly this effect. This blog, as you likely know, serves as my online journal. It is a treasure trove of thoughts, ponderings, ambitions, fears, and well...secrets, voiced aloud. By compiling text from my recent entries, printing these words on thousands of cut pieces of paper, and letting them cascade around Jess during the shoot, the film became a literal outpouring of the thoughts I set free into the world.

Mixed into the hundreds of paper are a few secrets I haven't spoken to anyone--the last of which, Jess will ultimately keep in the film. These few unshared secrets flutter by the camera, swept up in the turbulence of all the rest, the same way they dart through one's mind before being tucked back into place.

"ATS Rentals"
Jess Chang in The One I Keep, Film Still.
Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium 2013.

"look up"
Jess Chang in The One I Keep, Film Still.
Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium 2013.

Truthfully, it was eerily exciting to see snippets of my thoughts land around Jess's shoulders, hands, and feet. It was like hearing short clips of an old recording--seeing familiar words that vaguely ring a bell for their context, but not quite enough to recall the specific event. There were also some interestingly synchronous moments. In one frame I plan to use, the words "ATS Rentals" sit on Jess's hand (the same people we rented these very cameras from, and a note clearly appearing from an old blog entry months earlier when we did a similar shoot); in another, Jess's eye is covered by a piece of paper that delicately landed on a single strand of hair, with the words "look up." It has become almost a fun game of I Spy as I sift through the footage, and more importantly, the tiny paper notes fluttering across my screen feel genuine.

Jess Chang in The One I Keep, Film Still.
Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium 2013.

So as I continue to work on this film, I can at least feel confident in its artistic merit. No recycled paper here... Instead, thousands of little thoughts--mostly told, a few yet to be discovered.

"The One I Keep" will debut at Luminarium's largest show of the year, SECRETS & MOTION, September 13, 14, and 15 at the Armory in Somerville MA. Tickets and more information on the production are available here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

24-Hour ChoreoFest Blog!!

8pm: Welcome to Choreofest!  I'm Leslie, a dancer from Luminarium, and I'm happy to be here with everyone :) After dropping my bags (air mattress included) at the dance complex, I made a juice run to live alive.  Let's just say that it was time well spent, and the Luminarium crew was off to a great start!

10pm - Hi Everyone! This is Heather from Impact Dance Company. We started several phrases in our piece and are now working on some partnering improv. We are developing interesting pictures while trying to save our energy and bodies for the tonight and tomorrow. I heard there is coffee downstairs so bring on the dancing!!

11pm - Hello All! Its Devin Holloway here. Its 11:36 and our group Paradise Lost has just created some sections of our piece. So far its going well. We have some energy and were using it. I personally feel a bit foggy. I assume it might be even more foggy as the night goes on, BUT HEY thats life. ENJOY THE FOG!

Midnight - Hello, looks like we're all introducing ourselves first. This is Rose from Luminarium Dance Company. It is now midnight and we've made a couple minutes of stuff and things. We've been approaching this dance from all sides, a bit of structure talk, a bit of movement phrase, a bit of a giant pink watermelon costume jumpsuit, and a bit of me talking in front a computer, fearing for my future Senatorial campaign. Hopefully I can keep it PG enough to do better than Anthony Weiner.

1am -Hi everyone. This is Deirdre from Impact Dance. It is 1 am and I am surprised I remember my own name right now. Ideas continue to bounce off the walls of this studio every second. Meghan has moved on to the third and final group of four dancers to set a few phrases on. So far we have completed a beginning section with all of the dancers, and two smaller sections with small groups. The choreography seems to get even more intricate and amazing as the night goes on and Meghan starts to lose her mind. The driving force behind the music is helpful in keeping the energy up. Everyone is really staying focused despite their want to fall asleep under a cold shower. Supposedly there is coffee somewhere, but I am far too tired to go get it, so I'll lift my invisible cup and toast to 15 more hours of fabulous dancing!

2am - Greetings from Monkeyhouse!  Shannon and I are still going strong, surprisingly.  We were hitting a wall about 30 minutes ago but then our MUSIC ARRIVED!  Hooray!  The brilliant David Wechsler has been slaving away in Chicago creating music to go with our theme.  We've done a lot of back and forth via Skype since 8pm, exchanging ideas, asking questions and making requests of each other.  Dave and I have worked together before, but never with such a quick turnaround.  Shannon and I have never worked together before, so this is new ground for all involved and very exciting!  The first version of the music we got to listen to right before this 2am meeting (there are people behind me rock paper scissor battling for tech times) was really terrific and fits so well with the movement we've been creating.  I can't wait to see what happens when we get to put the two together!

3am - Aaaaaand here's Merli. Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance, though tonight I've been busy wandering the building shooting footage and making new friends. It's been quite the night, and I'm pretty sure I just watched the official crash take place around 2:45am. Everyone went from giddy to sleepy in a mere 20 minutes (!), so here's hoping that those who still need to choreograph have the tenacity to carry through... Somewhere above me I can hear tapping, so I'm guessing someone's on a roll. However, this dancer/videographer is about to unroll her blanket and take a little nap. ;)

5am- Kim's turn (aka Luminarium's other Artistic Director). So! I am choreographing for the company this year, and I'm thrilled to have Katie, Leslie and Rose along for the ride. We finished our piece around 4am with a few bits and pieces up in the air, but it wouldn't be a Kim-piece if we finished it entirely ;) I DO think I'm the only awake individual that's not wearing tap shows in the building (I can hear you, upstairs!!) but that's because at 5am I turn into the magical tech fairy and set up lighting, sound and the stage space.  Tech starts promptly at 8am, and I'm trying not to distract myself with an especially enticing ebook, Plants vs Zombies 2, or cleaning (gasp! See that, mom!) as when I stay up for extended periods of time my brain takes it upon itself to set up maximum distractions so that I never rest!  Can't you tell my the tone of this entry?? In all seriousness as I take a moment of pause in a fairly quiet building, I'm incredibly grateful that this is year 2 of the 24-hr ChoreoFest. What we decided to try on a whim found sturdy footing as a festival that honors process and the community spirit. There are just under 50 people in this building that have been hard at work all night, mainly just because we can! Thrilling! I do hope anyone following along at home via Live Feed, blog or social media takes an hour of their day to come see one of the shows at 2 or 4 at the Dance Complex (536 Mass Ave, Cambridge) to see just what is possible in under a day. Spoiler alert... It's impressive! Now how can we take on the ChoreoFest approach to many more world problems??
Epilogue. Dear Merli, where on earth are you in this building? You win for best nap spot, too bad winners already picked tech times...

6am - Intimations Dance - The sunrise is beautiful through the windows of studio 6. I am in and out of sleep. We're all sleeping in puddles of blankets, pillows, clothing, bags strewn across the floor. The sunlight changes from a deep blue on the horizon and brighter yellows and greens towards the top in squares of light between the panes. Some have been replaced. The light casts shadows on dancers sleeping around me in different shapes. I still see the lights from cars outside moving across the ceiling before we fell asleep about an hour ago. I am wake-dreaming about the piece, and try to see new possibilities.

7am - Paradise Lost - After a mere 3 hours and change of sleep, I woke up with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was late. Confusion sets in. Why are the lights on? My eyes adjust to the space and I remember where I am. Studio 3. The Dance Complex. Central Square. I try to sit up and immediately am reminded of the work from last night. My hamstrings are tight, My left IT band feels funk, and for some reason I can't place, the top of my left foot is sore. Somehow I have enough sense to check the time on my phone. 6:56am. Just about 7am. Tech isn't for another hour and a half and my alarm is due to go off in a hour and ten. I have never been more happy to have another hours worth of sleep. I settle back onto my make shift bed of two small mats and a pillow trying to find a new comfortable position so I don't end up a stiff board. Why am I here? I am here.

8am - We're just getting up from a short nap (well, three of us slept while the birthday girl was on night watch, I guess) and ready to polish the choreography we finally finished just a few hours ago. I can't remember what we created and have a vague fear that it could be completely terrible, produced in a somnolent haze. I also don't remember having ever rehearsed at this hour in my life, and I can't say I plan on doing so ever again. Surprisingly, as we start to review what we choreographed (How did we remember this stuff?!), I find there are only a few parts that we need to go over. And, even more surprisingly, I haven't yet gnawed off someone's arm in desperate hunger. Everything really does look so different in the morning than at night. I'm proud of us for getting through this, despite an initially rough start, and not having TOO much to do before our tech in two hours!

9am - Good morning!  Monkeyhouse had the 8am tech slot so we probably woke up many of the other companies with our pre-tech practicing.  (Sorry!)  I got the final draft of the music from David at 6am while Shannon was asleep.  (I would just like to point out that it is an hour earlier in Chicago so I think David cheated.  But he is going into a weekend full 48 hours of adventure with the Chicago Theatre Conference at the Theatre Wit this morning and after the shows Shannon and I are going home to sleep, so I suppose we can't complain.)  So we ran the piece through with the music for the first time just an hour ago.  There were a few moments that needed ironing, but all in all I would definitely call this a collaborative success!  Now let's just hope we can remember the steps once we hit the theatre...

10am - Rise and shine Impact dancers! After a mere four hours of sleep, we woke up to the cool Boston air and the bright morning sun. As we quickly threw our next set of rehearsal clothes on, Meghan turned on the music and we enjoyed a relaxing warm up. Not sure if our bodies were awake yet, we took part in an activity. Much like copy-cat, a designated dancer played "leader". Looking at the clock, it was a shocking realization that our bodies had already done so much without the hands reaching 9:00 AM yet. As we began to rehearse our Choreofest piece, it was evident that it was tune up time. We began to clean the choreography, getting into each muscle and movement to ensure that not only was it correct, but it was at its full expression and power. Now, for costuming...

11am - Sun streaming through the studio 6 windows had roused a sleepy but determined group of Intimations dancers, and by 11 a.m. we were deep into the work. It was immediately clear that we made the right choice in finishing the setting of the piece's structure BEFORE we took our brief (very brief) snooze. We were able to more or less run on autopilot for the beginning of the morning, warming up our bodies as we re-familiarized ourselves not just with the movements, but the theme of the piece and the characters we were imagining for ourselves as we moved. Typing is officially difficult on this lack of sleep, but here's hoping adrenaline with push us to show something we can be proud of. So far, so good! As we found with tech, just now, lights and wings and audience seats make everything feel more real. I think it's safe to say that this work has transitioned from an experiment of sorts to a true performance piece.

12pm - As we did not develop the concept for our piece until ~1:30 a.m., I think we -- Ryan P. Casey and dancers -- are all pleasantly surprised post-tech rehearsal that everything came together. As artistic director and lead choreographer for my group, I, Ryan, realize now that I should have taken control much earlier in the process and made executive decisions that would have expedited our choreography sessions. However, I am impressed with how we collaborated as a team to create this original piece, a deviation from our typical fare, after so many failed ideas, disagreements and dead ends. It is surprising how such a broad, ostensibly (and deceptively) simple theme, "wishes," proved so difficult for us -- perhaps precisely because it is so sweeping. We had a lot of good ideas but had struggled to settle on one. I am proud of us for not taking one of the easier roads to success, but rather fighting to develop a unique idea that we had from the start and that we struggled throughout the night to bring to life. All of us are happy with what we've created together and looking forward to the show!

1pm - Hello Luminarium fans! Intern Ira here! This is it, just a breath away from having our amazing dancers take over the stage and shine at 2pm. Looking forward to share emotions, passion and luminosity with all of you! After 17 sleepless hrs of fun, dance and little bit tiredness we are all still here, ready to make 24Hour ChoreoFest unforgettable! Our Community Outreach Program for 2014 is growing steadily but we always need your help making it come to fruition. With your support we will help hundreds of kids see their visions come to life. I urge you to donate whatever you can, buy a fancy 24Hour ChoreoFest T-shirt! Make a difference! This is my last day as a marketing and development intern for Luminarium, though I may find myself around again next summer - it's hard to stay away when you have fallen in love ;)  Thank you Merli and Kim for this adventurous and thrilling summer we shared!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meet the 2013 ChoreoFest Participants: Ryan P. Casey!

There is an abundance of modern and contemporary dance happening in the area so when we were graced with applications beyond this genre it was pretty hard to contain our excitement.  Even more exciting is the fact that Ryan Casey, master of all things rhythmic/noisy/foot-related, will be bringing a slew of tappers to 24-Hr ChoreoFest.  Yet another reason to come check out the shows on Saturday, 2pm and 4pm, at the Dance Complex.

Ryan, tell us about yourself!

RC: I grew up in Lexington, MA, at The Dance Inn, studying tap since the age of 5 with Thelma Goldberg and Kelly Kaleta. Many of my dancers trained there, too; we were members of the studio's acclaimed Legacy Dance Company until we graduated high school. From there, I went to NYU, where I studied journalism and literature while continuing to teach and perform and dabbling in choreography. I'm a founding member of Michelle Dorrance's company, Dorrance Dance, which she started in 2011. Last year, I assembled my choreography into a full-length show, "Transitions," and called some of my closest dance friends, and one of my best students, to help bring my vision to life. So far, we've presented it in Maine, Massachusetts & New York, and we've performed excerpts at various festivals and on TV. I look forward to being in the Boston area over the next year, strengthening my connections within the dance community and continuing to work with my wonderful cast of dancers.

LDC: How do you feel in advance of ChoreoFest?  What do you hope to accomplish, personally and choreographically?
RC: I think the festival will be a terrific bonding experience for me and my dancers (and the other participating companies, as well). We get along and work together so well, since we have known each other for so long, but haven't ever participated in something like this, so I think it will be a worthwhile experience for us as a troupe. It's also, honestly, an excuse to create a new piece; I'm always busy creating in the summer because that's when we all have the most free time. I love knowing that in 24 hours we'll draft an entire piece that we can continue to transform. I've never created work within such limited time, so I look forward to learning how I'll handle the pressure as a choreographer and how we all will handle it as a group. I think I'll emerge from this experience with a better knowledge of myself as a choreographer and director.

LDC: Tell us about your typical creative process.
RC: I usually develop the concept for a piece by listening to music that I want to dance to and thinking about some of the themes and ideas I want to explore (Recently, for example, I've been inspired to work on a set of dances about hipsters, and another about superheroes). I spend a lot of time selecting music -- it has to be catchy, clever, unique -- and then I get into the studio and start making things up. I keep a notebook of ideas, possible songs, phrases to remember, casting thoughts, etc., both on paper and on my computer. I'm a visual person, so I like to see all my ideas written out before I start putting them in motion. Rarely do I choreograph in a linear fashion; I work on different sections and then try to glue them all together somehow. My dancers are really helpful with that. Right now, for the first time, I've been in the studio with them choreographing as I go along, which I don't usually do, and it's been great to have them present for instant feedback.

LDC: What is your current greatest fear about the festival?
RC: Typically, when I get stuck, I abandon a piece of choreography, or a particular section, and revisit it after mulling it over for a few days or weeks, or even months. I'm worried about how I'll be able to overcome this kind of hurdle without the luxury of having more time to consider certain artistic decisions.

LDC: What's the longest amount of time you've been awake for?  How do you plan to cope with a lack of sleep and lots to get done before Saturday?
RC: Even though I just graduated college in May, I can't say I ever pulled an all-nighter at NYU -- LOL! I was an over-achiever; I would never have left things until the last minute. I'm a night owl, though, and I like to go to bed around 2 or 3, so I'm not worried about being able to stay awake. I think my dancers and I will be able to keep each other focused and motivated! What I love about the group is that everyone always has great ideas to contribute, so I know we'll be able to help each other out, even if someone needs a nap break.

LDC: Anything else you want to share with blog readers?
RC: Check us out on Facebook -- "like" the "Transitions Tap Tour" page and stay updated on where we'll be performing next! :-)

Credit: Chelsea Hack

Credit: Maya Reardon

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meet the 2013 ChoreoFest Participants: Jessica Muise/Intimations Dance

79 hours until the 2013 24-Hr ChoreoFest Festivities (tongue-twister, anyone?) commence.  Meaning in 96 or 98 hours (aka 2pm/4pm on Saturday) we will be graced with YOUR presence at one of the festival's culminating concerts.  Right?  Today we present to you an interview with Jessica Muise, of Intimations Dance Company.

Jessica Muise is a choreographer, dancer, educator, and permaculturalist born and raised in Waltham, MA. She is the founder and artistic director of Intimations Dance Company and co-founder of Our Permaculture Trip. Her goal is to combine the arts and permaculture in teaching, writing and education projects for healing and transformation. Her choreography has been presented for the JOMBA! International Dance Festival, The Gallatin Arts Festival and National Choreography Month Boston. She has performed with various dance companies in South Africa, NYC and Boston, including the Flatfoot Training Company, Dancers/Choreographers Alliance, Cambridge Dance Company and Selmadanse. She has taught modern and creative dance to children and adults since 2006 for various schools and community organizations including Brooklyn International High School, OnStage Dance Company, Newton Community Education and the Magwa Environment Through the Arts Project. When not dancing, she works at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, tries to grow food, and takes lots of pack walks with her boyfriend Mike and dog Banjo.

LDC: How do you feel in advance of ChoreoFest?  What do you hope to accomplish, personally and choreographically?

JM: I am partly relieved that I don’t have to prepare anything beforehand. Although much of my dance-work happens through collaboration with dancers in the studio, before any new project I spend hours taking videos of myself improvising, watching videos, researching, writing, and create a core phrase to start with. I also don’t have to do all the logistical work of booking rehearsal spaces and trying to make divergent dancer schedules mesh, which I am grateful for.

However, having so many unknowns in a process that will be extremely time-compressed is making me anxious, both in a nervous and excited way. I can almost picture myself in the studio at 3:00am, trying to make decisions that I believe in, but, being tired and feeling the pressure of wanting to create meaningful work, I fear I will question those decisions. I think this process will challenge me to trust my gut and believe in myself. When making dance, I always try to find ‘the flow’, where I am completely in the now, when everything is happening. I am looking forward to getting to that place and rolling with it.

LDC: Describe your typical creative process.

JM: Although I do a lot on my own, choreographing for me is best a process that happens with other people. My dancers and I start with a concept, informed by shared concerns or ideas at the time or the theme/parameters of the performance we are creating for. I usually begin with a writing exercise and discussion to draw out the story we’d like to tell. I also bring a short phrase to share which sets the general movement quality and gives the dancers some core vocabulary to draw from in the next phase - improvisation. We warm up across the floor with different impetuses for movement, like ‘each next move must change direction’ or ‘your head can’t leave the floor’. From there we create additional phrases within a structured use of space, time and energy, mostly informed by Laban Movement Analysis, and layered with words culled from writing exercises and discussion. I then give a set of “gifts” dancers must add to their phrase to to develop it like ‘add a pause’ or ‘repeat something at least 3 times’ and have them work in pairs, or groups to see how the phrase interacts with itself. This process creates the scaffolding of shared material we use to compose the work. Working this way I often feel more like a composer. We have the instruments and the notes, which I string together to try and convey meaning. Sometimes that meaning is clearly connected to the concept we began with, sometimes it is divergent from the starting point.

LDC: What is your current greatest fear about the festival? 

JM: That the piece will be unresolved. I always have that fear making new work, that we didn’t have enough time, or the phrasing is just not right, or I used the wrong exercises to draw stuff out. Also, crashing from too much coffee.

LDC: What's the longest amount of time you've been awake for?  How do you plan to cope with a lack of sleep and an excess of things to do?

JM: Last time I can remember being awake for an extended period with too much to do was in college in South Africa. I had two 15 page papers due by the end of the next day, and I was not even close to being finished. One paper was about global food systems, and the other about dance education. I stayed up for 36 hours in the computer lab and ate a lot of cheese curls and chocolate from the vending machine. I got both papers in on-time, and think I got good marks.

I am lucky enough to work with dancers who are familiar with my process, and bring a lot to the table. I trust that their creativity and willingness to be fearless in the studio will make it work. I will also probably drink a lot of coffee.

LDC: Anything else you'd like to share?

JM: Can’t wait to start!

Photo Credit: Kristophe Diaz

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the 2013 ChoreoFest Participants: Tyler Catanella/Paradise Lost

It's Monday.  24-Hour ChoreoFest is on Friday.  That means it's time to meet another participant.  Here is some important information and insight from Tyler Catanella, director of Paradise Lost.  Enjoy!

Hello! My name is Tyler Catanella, and I am the Artistic Director of Paradise Lost, a collective of Boston dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists that focuses on creating improvisational art with personal and social effect. I was born and raised in the greater Philadelphia region, and grew up immersed in hip-hop dance, music, and culture. After being exposed to modern and contemporary dance in Boston during my time studying Theatre Education and Acting at Emerson College, I started to pursue choreography as a way to bring my many worlds together. What I ultimately create with Paradise Lost is dance theatre with strong modern and hip-hop roots.

I direct, compose music, and choreograph dance theatre through this wonderful company of artists regularly; my newest work, Nostalgia, co-directed and choreographed with company leader Rose Fieschko, premiered at Green Street Studios this past March.

LDC: How do you feel in advance of ChoreoFest?  What do you hope to accomplish, personally and choreographically?

TC: If there’s one thing that I seek to accomplish with Paradise Lost, it’s creating a safe space and a proud product. The challenge with this festival is the amount of time in which we must selflessly throw ourselves into the themes and movements we’re given. Working in limitations can be so difficult, but I want us to leave the Dance Complex knowing that we gave it our all, and having no regrets in showing what it is that we do. Personally, I hope to challenge the dance community to ask, “What is dance?” It’s a question I still wrestle with, and one that I am excited to explore with the five other companies at this festival.

Another goal I’ve added for Paradise Lost for the 24-Hour ChoreoFest is to compose our own original music for the entire piece while creating the choreography. I’ve brought in a couple dancers who are also musicians that can help me in scoring the piece. I’ll be bringing all of my recording software, instruments, and microphones to use at our disposal. I want to create an entirely original piece in 24 hours!

LDC: Your creative process... do you have a typical way to work through something new? Tell us how you create.

TC: The first thing I do in the rehearsal room is establish a safe space to work, where infinite possibilities lie and judgment can be thrown out the window. The second most important thing for me as a choreographer is establishing a sense of ensemble and relationship among the dancers. Awareness is huge for me, especially when using improvisation and contact improv as a tool in both the creative process and performance. After doing a few improvisations and movement scores based around a theme or image for the piece (vomiting material, I call it), I can look back on what we’ve done and use what felt right as building blocks or inspiration for the piece. Then, it’s non-stop setting and organizing the material. I try to stay as truthful and organic as possible in both my leadership and my choreography, and often find myself using a lot of actor-language when choreographing.

LDC: What's the greatest fear you have about the festival?

TC: Not having enough energy to power through the night is a big fear of mine at the moment. As an improviser, I love the pressure of crunch time. It gives me so much inspiration and energy, but will it be enough to keep us all awake? I sure hope so!

LDC: What's your record for longest amount of time you've been awake?  How will you cope with a lack of sleep and an excess of things to do?

TC: With most of us coming out of college, we’re still riding the waves of pulling all-nighters for papers and projects, so staying up all night to complete a task isn’t an entirely new concept for us. Other company members will likely be doing coffee and energy drinks, but not me - I’m a religious tea drinker… Bad news for my sleepy-time tea habit.

LDC: Anything other thoughts?

TC: We have a website coming soon, but here’s a link to our Facebook page to stay connected in the meantime! We have weekly open improv jam sessions starting in September, so be sure to check out our page if you’d like to experience Paradise Lost and join us during the year! Also look out for our newest work “October” to premiere at the end of the Fall season.

Lastly, we couldn’t be more excited to join the Boston dance community for this event, nor more thankful for the opportunity to challenge ourselves and share our movement with an amazing audience of artists. Thanks so much, Luminarium. You guys rock.

Now, let’s get lost!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Meet the 2013 ChoreoFest Participants: Meghan McCaffrey/IMPACT Dance

In just one week (ONE! really!) we will be rushing about amidst last minute preparations for a long twenty-four hours of creation.  We anticipate about 45 wonderful people simultaneously making new work in the building aided by caffeine, camaraderie, and hitting a second/third/fourth wind.  As we are incredibly excited for this week to speed by, here is a second interview with a 2013 24-Hour ChoreoFest Participant...  meet Meghan McCaffrey!

Meghan McCaffrey is the Founder and Artistic Director of IMPACT Dance Company, a Contemporary Dance Company that focuses on bringing REAL LIFE to dance, raising awareness through movement and volunteering in multiple communities. She has taught all over Massachusetts at dance studios, public and private schools, dance programs, dance teacher's clubs and colleges. Meghan's choreography has been presented at dance festivals in Massachusetts and in New York. She has choreographed for numerous organizations including Dean College's dance department and most recently the Boston Arts Academy Summer Dance Program. 

LDC: How do you feel in advance of ChoreoFest?  What do you hope to accomplish, personally and choreographically?

MM: I am BEYOND ecstatic. I have wanted to participate in this fest since I found out about it last year! I hope to accomplish two things personally. The first being to truly not do ANYTHING before hand. I am a planner in regards to everything. I want to know the who, what, where and how. So it is going to be a  challenge to not plan any choreography, music or costumes... but I can do it ! Secondly I want to not rush while I am in rehearsal. I always feel I have to rush while in the studio. With this festival I am challenging myself to relax, fully develop my movement and choreography, let it breathe and transform itself into a beautiful end result. Basically I want to live in the process and just let everything fall into place. 

LDC: Describe your typical creative process.

MM: Usually I listen to the piece of music I am going to choreograph to five billion times, on repeat and then add some. I like to let the music tell me what to do and to learn all the nooks and crannies of each bar and or lyric. I then usually create three or four phrases. Which I then manipulate while in rehearsal with the dancers. I tend to come up with movement in the strangest places and I will name that phrase after the place where it was created. (There is a Dunkin Donuts phrase. Where I had to stand in what felt like the longest line ever and I created one of my favorite phrases!) I rarely sit in a studio by myself and choreograph. Every day life experiences inspire my movement as well as driving in my car. Very dangerous but most of my choreography comes from my head, while I am driving. 

LDC: What is your current greatest fear about the festival?

MM: That I will fall asleep while dancing or speaking!! ;) 

LDC: What's the longest amount of time you've been awake for?  How do you plan to cope with a lack of sleep and an excess of things to do?

MM: I believe the longest time I have been awake for is probably 20 hours. I plan on coffee, music and movement to keep me going. I do well under pressure, I sometimes tend to be a procrastinator.. so I believe this whole process will resemble my typical process when I am home. (Whether it's finishing an application an hour before the deadline, or finding a song 30minutes before rehearsal.) Fingers crossed! 

LDC: Anything else you'd like to share?

MM: I am so mad I didn't come up with this idea first!!! LOL But I am very excited to be participating in it this year. Can't wait to meet all of you and the other companies! 


Make sure YOU come see Meghan/IMPACT dance (with all 11+ of their dancers, wow!) and the other ChoreoFest participants next Saturday, August 17, at either 2pm of 4pm.  Buy tickets at, or email  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meet the 2013 ChoreoFest Participants: Nicole Harris/Monkeyhouse

With just 10 days to go before we lock ourselves into a building to create dance (yes, this is fun), we would like to introduce the first of our 2013 24-Hour ChoreoFest participants.  

Meet Nicole Harris (via biography), followed by a Luminarium Q&A.  Enjoy!


Nicole Harris, Monkeyhouse's Community Engagement Coordinator, grew up studying with Karen Krolak who quickly became her mentor.  When Nicole was nineteen years old Karen presented her with the opportunity to perform her well loved piece What’s Next? in Philadelphia in the fall of 2000 and went on to become one of the founding members of Monkeyhouse, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting communities to choreography under Karen's direction.  With Monkeyhouse Nicole presented her own choreography in New York City for the first time at age nineteen, toured the country numerous times performing both her own work and that of other company choreographers, premiered over a dozen pieces of choreography and worked with an extensive list of students of all ages.  In 2007 Nicole moved to New York City where she studied extensively with Derick K. Grant and Lynn Schwab.  While there Nicole was invited to perform at the TAP CITY Main Event in choreography by Lynn Schwab in 2009 & 2010 at Symphony Space; presented work at the Cool New York Dance Festival in 2009 & 2010 and was asked to perform at the 2008 Edmonton Fringe Festival.  Since moving back to Boston in 2012 Nicole has been dedicating her time to Monkeyhouse and the Natick High School Drama program, where she has been working with an amazing group of students since 2002.  After recovering from a series of strokes in 2011, Nicole has continued searching for new ways her art could help people.  Monkeyhouse's Against the Odds:  Imperfect{vie} Experiments, a festival that looks at artists who look at how to overcome obstacles, is very much inspired by the medical misadventures of Nicole and other members of the company.  She returned to the Monkeyhouse stage in March for the first time since getting out of the hospital and since then has been busy developing new and exciting adventures for Monkeyhouse.

LDC: How do you feel in advance of ChoreoFest?  What do you hope to accomplish, personally and choreographically?
NH: I am incredibly excited to participate in ChoreoFest.   Everyone at Monkeyhouse is a huge fan of Luminarium and we're honored to have been chosen to be part of this choreographic adventure two years in a row!  Personally, I am not known for building pieces in a short amount of time, so the overnight time limit is going to be an interesting structure for me.  Luckily, I am being locked in with the amazing Shannon Sullivan.  Shannon and I have known each other for a number of years, although this will be the first time we've created something together.  I am looking forward to seeing what all the crazy parameters of time, topic, lack of sleep and a new collaborator bring out in both of us!  I'm hoping to expand how I think about creating work and perhaps find new processes for myself, no matter what the end result.

LDC: Describe your typical creative process.
NH: Oh dear.  I didn't know people have typical creative processes.  I tend to tackle each project individually.  Look at the parameters of the project and see what happens.  I don't think there's much "typical" about it, for me.  I can't wait to see how other people answer this question!

LDC: What is your current greatest fear about the festival?
NH: I find I'm actually kind of nervous!  I haven't made many tap pieces based solely on a topic. When it comes to modern pieces I tend to be much better about taking a topic and making a piece that says something.  One of my biggest challenges as a tap dancer/choreographer is being able to replicate that process with my shoes on.  So I figured I'd apply to something where I have no choice but to tackle that challenge.  So I'm nervous but excited!

LDC: What's the longest amount of time you've been awake for?  How do you plan to cope with a lack of sleep and an excess of things to do?
NH: I'm not going to lie, I like my sleep.  I'm not sure what the longest amount of time is but as a young person I certainly did more than my share of staying up until all hours doing who knows what.  But those days are long gone!  I don't drink coffee, so I might need to have a secret stash of chocolate ice cream in our studio.... 
Honestly, besides sleeping a lot during the day before I arrive, I'm not terribly worried about the stress of it all.  We are excited to participate and we want to have fun with the challenge.  If fun involves a brief nap, I'm okay with that.  :)

LDC: Anything else you'd like to share?
NH: I'd like to thank everyone at Luminarium for creating this opportunity.  I love the new voice you have brought to the Boston dance community over the last three years.  I am incredibly excited to have an excuse to work with you guys again as well as a first time to create a piece with Shannon.  And there are a few possibilities of other VERY exciting collaborators who just might show up as part of Monkeyhouse's ChoreoFest adventure too!  I can't wait!