Friday, September 9, 2016

24-Hour ChoreoFest Thoughts 2016

Luminarium's 24-Hour ChoreoFest 2016. Photo: Ryan Carollo.

9:00PM- Kimberleigh A. Holman, Artistic Director, Co-Founder of Luminarium Dance Company

We just kicked off our fifth annual ChoreoFest and the energy in the building is amazing. I get to kick off the yearly ChoreoFest blog extravaganza and that’s never happened before in the five year history of this festival. We pulled two themes from Karen’s incredible sorting hat: “eerie interludes” and “beauty of chaos, ugly perfection.” While the first is comical in a ‘you’d have to know us’ sense, the second (sure, maybe a bit cliche) delights me on a making level. I love how genuine true chaos is, it’s impossible to replicate and perfect in that sense. This year Merli and I are setting a duet on ourselves (long story) which is something we’ve joked about for awhile and now find ourselves in the midst of. I hope that by the end of the 24 hours we’ve made something that feels right for us, something that we could potentially keep working on. Time to start brainstorming…

10:00PM- Kayla Luoma, Adult Company Member/ Vet; Kelsey Rainville, Teen Apprentice of Boston Community Dance Project

We are super excited to be a part of such an awesome experience. This is our first year attending the 24 hour ChoreoFest and so far we are having a blast! With having our theme: "This is why I..." and song choice picked we are feeling really strong about our concept because we feel it is such a common subject that anyone in the audience will be able to make their own connection with. We are just starting our routine and already cannot wait to see where the choreography takes us. We hope our energy and creative minds will be just as strong up until the last few hours of the 24 hour process and are looking forward to seeing what all the other talented groups have created. Follow the artistry!

11:00PM- Karen Krolak, Monkeyhouse Artistic Director & Choreographic Guru for the festival

Just finished making the rounds to all the studios with Kwaq7aj' (Pronounced "quacks" the 7 is silent) and am pleased to report that all the groups are riffing off their themes with gusto. Kwaq7aj' is still hoping that someone will use the Sir Slops A Lot movement phrase that she has been perfecting down in the heavenly Studio 7 (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Barr Foundation for investing in this magnificent space and please do not tell the other companies that it is air conditioned!!!) 

Frankly, I love this stage of the creative process - people are playing and laughing. Seeing how they sketch out ideas together shows so much of their kinesthetic logic. I highly recommend switching between the live feeds to get a sense the unique flavor of each choreographer. 

If you are in the area, you can also come down to Mass Ave and watch Monkeyhouse through the windows on the first floor. I have been very amused by all the flashing blue and red lights from the police and fire patrols on the street. Perhaps Kim can replicate that for Aisha's duet tomorrow...

Cassandra, our Dance Complex representative just emerged from the office announcing that she is going to play with the theme she pulled "On Cloud 8". How fantabulous that even the staff is getting in on the adventure of 24 hr Choreofest.

12:00AM-  Emily Jerant-Hendrickson, choreographer

Things have been going well so far. It was strange at the beginning to start a new work with bodies already in the room; usually I have some material or a concept in mind before I begin rehearsals so this really pushed me to dive into creation head first. Maggie just did a run through of what we have so far and the solo is about a third of the way done, so better get back upstairs!

1:00AM- Lillian Gaylord, Publicity Intern for Luminarium Dance Company

We have reached a milestone in the evening! The 1:00AM meeting was a rousing success with everyone sharing their thoughts, challenges, and successes. The differences and similarities between each group has led to some interesting pairings. The groups will meet and perform what they have come up with thus far in order to see the work through fresh eyes. Some of the big ideas discussed and generally agreed upon during the meeting was the subjectivity of art and performance as well as the challenge of providing constructive criticism without getting entrenched in the negatives, or going too far the other way and only providing the positives. All of the companies are working to create a piece that is not only visually appealing, but that tells a narrative that will resonate with all.

2:00AM- Choreographer

It's getting to the point where my body is taking over for what my brain is lacking in... The process has been going really well, my brain is just starting to slack off a little in comparison to what I need it to be doing! We still have a lot of time left so I'm excited to see where it will go!

3:00AM- Jennifer Webb - Choreographer- Bridges Dance Theatre

We are all still going strong. Luminarium has made us feel at home and supported. Collaborating with other groups helped us to identify where we needed to focus next in our creation process as well as which moments were clearly articulated . I am looking forward to seeing where the work goes in the next few hours.

4:00AM-Alexis Haddad - Dancer - Bridges Dance Theatre

Four AYE EMMM.....SO far so good! Since this is my first year participating I wasn't 100% sure what to expect. However Carolyn and Jen our fearless leaders are extremely organized and have a vision. Rehearsal is going well and we are making a ton of progress. We are accomplishing a lot while still being very collaborative with 12 people. On a personal level it feels good to be back in the studio after nine years. I love performing but man do I LOVE collaborating, creating and choreographing. Its been good for my body but more importantly for my soul. Really looking forward to seeing what everyone else has created and at the end having that feeling of accomplishment. Being able to sit back, reflect and say yeah I was part of that, I helped create and perform that in 24 hours with no sleep. Also God Bless Coffee

5:00AM- Sarah-Katarina "SKooJ" Founder/Director of BCDP

Boston Community Dance Project is well on their way! The creative process has made us become movement warriors! As we keep taking ambitious leaps in our piece, the struggle for stamina, longevity, and body awareness is real but our bond together is keeping us trucking through! It was so great to get feedback from Nozama to see another perspective on our piece! As time is counting down I feel everything can evolve more and do not want to stop to make changes, edits, and alterations but at the same time decisions need to be made to make the dancers and myself feel confident. Mixing two pieces of music has stalled the process a bit to pick the right sections of each song and make the routine come together. ChoreoFest is honestly an absolute black even more the trials and wish we could do this every week! Happy Dancing!

6:00AM-Aisha Cruse, Monkeyhouse Choreographer

So, sometimes you're standing in a dance studio eating a sandwich looking at a folding screen thinking "what do i want from you," and then bam it's a security blanket. It's always been a security blanket and then your piece is about safety and change and how to deal with your past self as you're aging and your ideas about who your future self should be and then it's 3 am and your piece is done. Surprise!

7:00AM- Andrea West, Monkeyhouse Dancer

Connecting to another human through movement is an amazing feeling, even more so in the middle of the night when your head is out of the way and nothing but trust is left. Ive learned so much from letting go and trusting my experience. Never would have thought an overtired brain would serve me well, but it has ultimately enhanced my experience and allowed me to throw myself into this without hesitation. I'm proud of myself and all I can share this experience with.

8:00AM- Arianna Patel and Katherine Leary, Bridges Dancers

We're definetely at a loss for sleep,  but the overall experience has been an adventure from start to finish. Being able to get feedback from other dancers and choreographers has made the process much easier because they were able to tell us what worked well and what didn't. We would definetly do it again!

9:00AM- Gracie Novikoff, Co-Director of Nozama Dance Collective

We are leaving many unanswered questions with our piece, and that's okay! We are embracing the "work in progress" nature of this incredible festival. Our piece begins with the dancers in a la-la land state, and the work explores the limits of that space. At 4am we got to the point where the dancers had broken the boundaries of la-la land, and we had numerous roads we could go down. Very uncharacteristically, we chose none of them. We are leaving the piece in a tumultuous place, and we want to leave the audience wondering what will happen to these ladies next. We are anxious for feedback on what an audience member imagines happening. We are excited to keep playing with this piece and the choreography, but we cut ourselves a break and called it at 5am for a very necessary 2 hour nap on some dope tumbling pads. We woke up to a solid Spotify wake up playlist and, needless to say, Nozama runs on Dunkin' and we are ready to tech!

This was an amazing experience for us. We tapped into the true collective nature of our company and all of the participants aided in choreographing and contributing. A good chunk of the piece is improvisation, which allows the audience to see each dancer's unique contribution and style. This process brought us together, bonded us as a team, and showed us what each incredible member of this family can bring to the table. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Luminarium at the Historic Wayside Inn

On Sunday, July 24, 2016, Luminarium presented the culminating performance of its annual Cultural Community Outreach Project—dedicated to highlighting an historical community establishment through the integration of dance and the arts.

For its 2016 project, the company chose to showcase Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA, as it celebrated its 300th anniversary as a local landmark of great historical significance. Viewers were invited to picnic on the lawn while watching one of Luminarium's three performances throughout the afternoon. The company created three new live performance pieces honoring the Wayside: One focused on the land, one on the inn, and a third that condensed the Wayside's 300 years of history into a 3-minute theatrical introduction. Viewers were also eager to visit the grist mill, where Luminarium's latest film—an experimental film featuring slow-motion dancing with flour—was projected onto the mill's large stone wall.

Following the event, Merli V. Guerra (Artistic Director and leader of this annual endeavor) shared with the company:
We received a ton of glowing feedback from strangers of all ages and backgrounds about every aspect of the event. A few highlights included an historian who’s written many books about the Wayside saying that we truly “got it” and "captured the history" and essence of the Wayside. An elderly woman approached me to say that she isn’t able to make it into the city any more and was so appreciative to have professional dance of our caliber brought to her town—and that her sister was so thrilled to hear about the event the night before, that she hopped in the car and drove three hours up from CT to join her! Mark, our incredible Wayside tech helper, told me that the music carried all the way to the chapel, and that many of the visitors there inquired where it was coming from, then promptly raced over to the mill. And of course there were so many young dancers in attendance who had never seen contemporary dance before, but were excited to see more now. In case you didn’t think you were making a difference—you are!

Below is a list of press, footage, and photos documenting this successful event. Many thanks to all who were involved in this project, and for those just viewing it for the first time, enjoy!


The Hostess Diaries, filmed and edited by Guerra.

Another copy of The Hostess Diaries, including opening remarks by Guerra (choreographer) and Mali Sastri (composer), was filmed and given to us by John Doherty.


WMCT-TV in Marlboro: News clip featuring interviews with Guerra and Company Member Amy Mastrangelo, alongside footage from the 1:30pm performance.

Sudbury TV: A full 30-minute segment showing footage from the 3pm performance.


Preview in The Town Crier.

Preview in MetroWest Daily News.


We are grateful to have been sent so many stellar images of this beautiful event. Click on the thumbnails above to view the full gallery including photos by Karen Irwin Photography, Maria Fonseca Photography, and frequent Luminarium photographer Ryan Carollo.

Supported in part by a grant from the Sudbury Cultural Council,
a local agency which is supported by the
Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.