Teacher Spotlight: Julianne Corey and Norie Mozzone

Martha Graham once said “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well, just get up and dance.” No class embraces that statement more than Nia.

Nia is a conscious movement practice that integrates energies from dance, martial arts, and somatic awareness. Based on modern dance, Nia, which stands for Neuromuscular Integrative Action, combines dance with yoga, taekwondo, and other styles to develop mindful movement. It uses basic positions focused on the base, core, and extremities in different sequences so that no class is alike. As teachers Julianne Corey and Norie Mozzone put it, “Nia brings music and movement together to create magic.”

Julianne Corey has been dancing Nia for 22 years and started teaching a few years later. She started dancing ballet when she was three years old, but didn’t like the strictness of the discipline. Having thought that dance was limited to a performative movement, Nia opened up her way of thinking to dance as a holistic movement, focused inward rather than out. “The first time I took a class at Nia Headquarters studio in Portland, OR, one of the fellow students was wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Dance Ugly and Drool.’ That has always stuck with me because I’d never before considered that dance didn’t need to ‘look good.’ But it should feel good. And in order to know what feels good, we have to allow ourselves to feel,” she says.

Norie Mozzone, Julianne’s co-teacher, didn’t come from a classical dance background. Twelve years ago, she was at a gym doing a “boring exercise” when she says she saw a class where all the women had big smiles on their faces. “I wasn’t sure what the class was, I just knew it was unusual to see women looking like they were having fun and feeling good at the gym,” she explained. She has been dancing ever since.

Julianne and Norie’s Saturday morning class has a warm, welcoming atmosphere where students are encouraged to explore different movements and dance like nobody’s watching. With music as diverse as the styles explored, Nia class goes through some simple movements and multiple pieces mixed with free dance periods. Students move around the entire room, shifting vertically, horizontally, and laterally to flow around the space. As one student put it, “Nia gives me the freedom to move as I please.”

The Nia teachers and students group recently named themselves the “Joy Collective” to capture the feeling of their movement. They continue to grow and learn from each other. As Julianne and Norie say, “Nia welcomes Every Body. Every age, size, shape, and ability. People who have never danced and people who have been dancing since day one. All you need to step into a Nia class is a desire to do something new. And have fun.”

So next time you have a free Saturday morning, come join the Nia class and share the joy and energy of a non-performative, free movement class. Nia is held at 10 a.m. every Saturday at the Dance Complex.

By Anu Reddy

For more information on Nia, visit their Youtube channel here.
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THE GROWTH OF THE “a MAKE iT / SHARE iT / SHOW iT (aMaSSiT) MENTORING LAB”

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The aMaSSiT Mentoring Lab is a four-month long multi-session course of class “labs” which focuses on choreographic skills and tool building. aMaSSiT welcomes dance makers from all dance genres in any stage of their career to revamp or kick start their choreographic journey and challenge their creative process.

The Dance Complex first introduced aMaSSiT in the fall of 2013, and has since received recognition among dance professionals both locally and nationally, including praise from Dance Magazine. Since its creation, aMaSSiT has invited a variety of dance makers to join the lab, including those specializing in tap, burlesque, musical theater, contemporary ballet, and modern.

For the past three years, Kristin Wagner has been the Project Lead for aMaSSiT where she works closely with Peter DiMuro, the Dance Complex’s Executive Artistic Director, to develop the curriculum of this season’s goals and objectives, as well as the guest facilitators. Kristin has been working directly to provide oversight on the general operations of the course for the eight artists who are currently enrolled in aMaSSiT. This season, six of those artists are working independently, and two are working in a collaborative relationship.

The program continues to focus on choreographic development through showings with critical feedback, but this season, there have been some changes to provide more tools and resources for the artists.

To start off, the application process this year has doubled in length of time to allow applicants more time to submit top-quality work and immerse themselves in their proposed projects. Applications opened in the beginning of December and closed mid-January. The program has also added more elements, such as workshops aimed at building choreographic tools (i.e. movement generation, adapting/adopting new choreographic processes, etc), and peer dialogues, as well as critical feedback from guest artists. Even the process of inviting “mentors” has transitioned to inviting facilitators to assist with peer dialogue, so artists are actively giving feedback as well as receiving it from a variety of voices.

The structure of the program itself has remained consistent, but this year with generous support from Boston Moving Arts Productions, the program has added four additional workshops emphasizing administrative process. As Kristin states “the focus of aMaSSiT has always included a heavy focus on defining and refining each artist’s creative process, and continues to do so, by offering movement workshops in generation, structure, and resolution”. This season, the program has paired the development of creative process with workshops focused on administrative practice, such as giving/receiving feedback, marketing, grant writing, and developing relations with producers. With the partnership of Boston Moving Arts Production, the program has been able to offer “four administrative workshops, three movement workshops, five showings with peer and facilitator feedback, and an informal showing of work at the conclusion of the program” for a very affordable price, creating accessibility for all artists.

By Kimberly Romero

 

For more information on aMaSSiT, please visit http://www.dancecomplex.org/amassit-mentoring-lab/

The aMaSSit Thinking Workshops are open to the public. You can sign up for the Grant Writing Thinking Workshop on March 11th here. You can sign up for the Producer Relations Thinking Workshop on April 8th here.

 

Accessible Dance Initiative

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Inspired by The Dance Complex’s first ground-level studio space, The Accessible Dance Initiative is joining the landscape of programs, such as  Dance for PD and adaptive dance, being offered to make dance an available activity and means of expression for people with various experiences. The Dance Complex and Mass General Hospital have partnered to make these classes free for all participants and open to those facing many different challenges such as having Parkinson’s Disease or using a wheelchair.

A few of our students have shared their ways of finding out about the program and a number of them involve great efforts on the part of open-minded and encouraging neurologists, such as Doctor Diler Acar at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Others found out about the classes by word of mouth, tagging along with a friend or neighbor, seeking out a community or bringing their own community with them. Bob and Gwen Lintin, who have lived in the Boston Area for most of their lives brought their daughter Heidi, who was visiting from California, with them to the first class they attended. Leaving the studio, Gwen shared with us that her favorite part of the class was the level of comfort she felt while dancing: “You know sometimes I need a chair to lean on, but when we were walking around, I felt like I could hold on to anyone and just lean on them.” Heidi shared her gratitude towards the teachers and The Dance Complex for being a great and welcoming space.

These kinds of conversations, usually happen at the end of each class during the built-in time for sharing stories and experiences, making sure that you get to know people that you hold on to. Sandra Corsetti and Yasmin Byron have both been a part of the first session of Accessible Dance Classes and have come back for more. “After doing it for the first time I started paying more attention to movements that I do around my house on my own, stretching and having fun” — Sandra shared with us.

It is precisely this attention to micro-movements and the great joy that can come from natural movements that interests Sarah Friedman, a dance, choreographer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. Sarah has been working closely and collaborating with Rachel Balaban who has been spearheading Dance for Our Aging Population at Brown University and is a Dance for PD Coordinator for Connecticut and Rhode Island. Sarah and Rachel have been both working hard on raising awareness about the benefits of dance for people with movement challenges in a variety of circles. Medical Students have been co-teaching classes with Rachel and a symposium on Artist and Scientist collaboration has been held at Brown University last spring for the first time. This year Sarah is hoping to share her film explorations and Rachel is hopeful that symposium will help secure funding and support for the program. Rachel shared her enthusiasm about the classes being held at The Dance Complex and the beautiful facilities that make them possible.

Studio 7, a newly renovated ground-level space with views of Central Square and historic stained glass artwork opened its doors to a variety of students. Fatou Carol who has been teaching West African at The Dance Complex for many years and co-teaches the Accessible Dance Class shared that she has always hoped to see a handicap accessible dance studio open and accommodate a more diverse group of dancers.  Last week we welcomed Cindy, Alejandra and Alison, a group of young women in wheel chairs who have contributed so much in terms of movement, joy and support.

The success of the program owes so much to Fatou Carol and Kara who take terms teaching the class and the non-judgmental welcoming environment they create. Students who have come back since last session speak highly of the friendships they’ve developed with each other and teachers as well. Yasmin shared that is was great to “return to class after the break and see two instructors again. We give each other hugs – that feels good, too!”.  

This session of classes will wrap up by the end of the year, but as the community grows we will definitely see more next year. In the meantime, we are working on documenting the class and sharing the video with the larger community to raise awareness and start new conversations. If you know someone who might benefit from the Accessible Dance Classes or would like to learn more, do not hesitate to reach out to Kara Fili at kara@dancecomplex.org We are always inspired by and grateful to all of our students for their curiosity and open minds about the power and possibilities of dance.

Until soon,

Polina

aMaSSit Mentoring Lab with Peter DiMuro during Class Exploration Week

It is only appropriate that it was Wendy Jehlen’s Movement Exploration class that kicked off the Class Exploration Week here at the Dance Complex. And it was a huge success, bringing in both new and familiar faces to what turned out to be one of the most well attended Movement Exploration classes.

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Another highlight of this week is certainly Peter DiMuro’s aMaSSiT Mentoring Lab that is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct 26th from 8-10. The Dance Complex first introduced the aMaSSiT Mentoring Lab in the fall of 2013, and has since received recognition from dance professionals both locally and nationally, including praise from Dance Magazine. The program features a series of lab sessions that focus on dance making skills and tool building for all dance makers, whether seasoned professionals or those still building their practice, in  all dance genres, ranging from modern to tap to burlesque and everything beyond and in between.  

In this special one night aMaSSiT “preview,” Peter DiMuro will whet our choreographic palettes with an overview of a few tools focused on helping choreographers explore ideas around knowing and un-knowing: how to allow a dialogue between the dance-maker and their ideas.   
 
The session will be reminiscent of the full multi-session course, which includes choreographic tools workshops, facilitated peer discussion and response,  and dialogue with guest artists.  
 
If you have interest in participating in the full course, scheduled to resume in February 2017, this workshop will give you a great idea of what is in store! 
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In the meantime, check the full Class Exploration Week schedule and share with all those who have been wondering what you are up to at the Dance Complex. Tell your friends, families and local baristas about it. At least that’s what I did — and got a free coffee in return!

Happy Exploration,

Until Soon,

Polina

The Dance Complex in the Press

14457284_10154595338388593_757865611552912917_n As many of you know, The Dance Complex turned 25 this September — an occasion that prompted a day of celebration and a revelation of a number of exciting events on the horizon. “25 & Dancing On!”, a newly unveiled anniversary celebration naturally sparked a lot of interest among local press and media outlets, which generously covered the history of the Dance Complex, Executive Director Peter DiMuro’s vision for the Complex and the kind words that the Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern’s had to say about the role that the Dance Complex plays in preserving the local community and “its flavor”.

A story by Natalie Handy in the Cambridge Chronicle beautifully traces the mission of the Dance Complex from its early days under the supervision of Rozann Kraus, to its ambitious plans for the future. It celebrates the success and perseverance of the Dance Complex that is rooted in the “access, openness and being welcoming and non-judgmental”, its past but also “dancing into future”.

Read the full story here: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/news/20161006/central-squares-dance-complex-celebrates-25-years-in-cambridge and to learn more about the new Accessible Dance Initiative, stay tuned and check the Writing Dance Center Blog later this month.

Until soon,

Polina

Student Spotlight: Cassandre Charles

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Cassandre Charles, Boston native and arts enthusiast, lights up the Dance Complex with her warmth and love of moving. Anyone who knows Cassandre speaks to her loyalty as a student, work-study, and supporter of the Dance Complex.

After her health declined due to an autoimmune disease, Cassandre adopted dancing as a vehicle to recovery. The work study program at the DC allowed Cassandre to return to work and afford ballet classes. Cassandre uses the Dance Complex both as a rehearsal space, and as an opportunity to explore and improve her own technique.

Where at the DC can you find Cassandre?

Among her favorite classes are ballet with Roseann Ridings and Anna Myer, Modern Connections with Jenny Oliver, movement exploration with Wendy Jehlen, Ethno-Haitian with Jean Appolon, and Modern Jazz Blues with Adrienne Hawkins.

In addition to being a dedicated student, Cassandre utilizes the Dance Complex as a rehearsal space.  As a member of Paradise Lost: A Movement Collective, Cassandre fuses her love of dance with storytelling and improvisation. She also uses the studios to choreograph for her own, heels (!!!) dance fitness classes. Most recently, Cassandre organized and led a book drive in the newly-renovated studio 7 to fundraise for Jean Appolon’s Expressions Dance Company. Working at the DC has also familiarized Cassandre with tech production, and now, she applies her knowledge to her work as a stage manager for theater and dance performances.

Cassandre has, for the past three years, embraced every opportunity to grow as a person and artist. What sparks this love of dance? Cassandre says, “I am surrounded by ‘co-workers’ who live to move”. The inspiring students at the DC, paired with the guidance and thoughtfulness of the instructors, motivates Cassandre to take risks in her own movement.

“Here, [Dance Complex patrons] hear about every kind of dance. Our work-studies, patrons and staff have such vast backgrounds–one is bound to be exposed to new movement”.

Charles says that many of her performance opportunities are a result of networking at the DC, where she has met out-of-state teachers, professional dancers, and arts administrators. She premiered a piece at the Dorchester Art Project, entitled “Body, Spirit, Soul” in which she shares her story–a transformation from sickness and immobility to dance. She says, “my dance-family from the Dance Complex are hugely responsible for my motivation”.

We’re so grateful to have Cassandre as part of our DC community–her spirited energy inspires us all!

Until next time,
Augie

Know Your DC History!

 

Did you know that in 1992, The Dance Complex hosted the Mark Morris Dance Group? Mark Morris is a renowned dancer and choreographer known for his unique musicality and vivacious work. He formed his company in 1980, and since then, has created 150 works– 20 of which have been commissioned by ballet companies (markmorrisdancegroup.org).

During his time at The Dance Complex, Morris offered a choreography workshop, while his company members led a repertory workshop.

Check out the program below, courtesy of the Cambridge Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For a the full Dance Complex timeline, visit:

http://www.dancenarratives.org/boston/dancecomplex

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