Listen to all our Studio Stories Podcasts here! See each week’s special guest, learn about their past and present, and listen to their stories on our Episode Player –
Season 2. Episode 7 – November 12th
Special Guest: Leigh Dillard
Leigh W. Dillard retired as Professor Emerita, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, in 2015. She taught dance at CSB/SJU for fifteen years and was Chair of the CSB/SJU Theater Department for eight years. She was honored with the Linda Mealey Faculty/Student Collaborative Research and Creativity Award in 2015, the first and only time this has been awarded to a Fine Arts faculty member. Leigh was co-founder and Artistic Director of New Dance Ensemble, a professional repertory company in Minneapolis, 1981-91, was a member of the Nancy Hauser Dance Company 1976-79, and also danced with Margie Fargnoli’s Whispers of America company.
Season 2. Episode 6 – November 5th
Special Guest: Ranee, Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy
Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s Ragamala Dance Company is the embodiment of an immigrant story. Founded in 1992 by Ranee, and currently under the leadership of Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna and Choreographic Associate Ashwini Ramaswamy (mother and daughters), their aesthetic is deeply influenced by their cultural hybridity as Indian-American artists. Practitioners of the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam, they explore the myth and spirituality of India to engage with what they see as the dynamic tension between the historical, the ancestral, and the personal.
Season 2. Episode 5 – October 29th
Special Guest: Mary Moore Easter
In addition to the newly released book From the Flutes of Our Bones (Nodin Press), Mary Moore Easter is the author of three compelling poetry books. In a long dance career in Minnesota & nationally, her awards include a Bush Artist Fellowship in Choreography & McKnight Awards in Choreography & in Interdisciplinary Arts from Intermedia Arts. She most recently performed as a dancer in Paula Mann’s Invisible. Her career as an independent dancer/choreographer & Founder/Director of Carleton College’s dance program overlapped with writing as a Cave Canem Fellow. She is a 2020 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Easter holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence & an M.A. in Music for Dancers from Goddard.
Season 2. Episode 4 – October 22nd
Special Guest: Christopher Watson
Christopher Watson began his dance training after earning a Masters of Science in journalism from Northwestern. He began at the Houston Ballet Academy and ultimately went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in dance at the University of Michigan. Locally, Christopher Watson was a member of the New Dance Ensemble. Throughout his career, he has performed with companies in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, and more. Beyond performing, Christopher has produced dance, music, and theater events, served as guest teaching artist at multiple universities, and choreographed on his own company. Christopher Watson Dance Company was founded in 1991 in CA, and now calls Minneapolis home.
Season 2. Episode 3 – October 15th
Special Guest: Robin Stiehm
Robin Stiehm’s professional dance career spans 4 decades, beginning as a soloist for the ballet company Minnesota Dance Theatre. In 1989 Robin transitioned to modern dance and worked with New Dance Ensemble. Robin began choreographing in 1990 and in 1994 formed her own group, Dancing People Company. During her Minneapolis years, Robin’s work received support from the McKnight & Jerome Foundations, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, as well as the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship. In 2003 she relocated the company to Ashland, Oregon. In the 13 years DPC was in Oregon, Robin developed strong professional dancers and created an innovative high school program that introduced modern dance to many hundreds of students in rural Southern Oregon.
Season 2. Episode 2 – October 8th
Special Guest: Pramila Vasudevan
Pramila Vasudevan is a cultural worker, choreographer and trans disciplinary artist. She is the founding Artistic Director of Aniccha Arts (since 2004), an experimental arts collaborative producing site-specific performances that examine agency, voice, and group dynamics within community histories, institutions, and systems. This is her fifth year as director of Naked Stages at Pillsbury House Theatre, a 7 month program for early career performance artists. The pandemic has had devastating consequences for artist communities and she is currently researching what it means to build self sustaining artist ecologies that are not dependent on traditional funding models. Pramila is on a personal journey to examine her caste privilege in her body, artistic, spiritual and daily life, as she searches for paths to be in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Season 2. Episode 1 – October 1st
Special Guest: Heidi Hauser Jasmin
Heidi Hauser Jasmin spent over forty years with Hauser Dance as a performer, choreographer & teacher, and became Artistic Director of the Company & School in 1987. She studied with her mother Nancy Hauser & Hanya Holm, and has choreographed over fifty dances. Under the National Endowment for the Arts, the Hauser Dance Company performed and taught throughout the United States in the 70’s and 80’s. She has received choreographic support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Heidi also taught at the University of Minnesota for 15 years.
Season 1. Episode 21 – September 24th
Special Guest: Gary Peterson
Gary Peterson has been a part of Minnesota’s dance community for 40 years. He has served as managing director of Ananya Dance Theatre and research collaborator with Dr. Ananya Chatterjee. He has also worked as executive director of James Sewell Ballet, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, Zenon Dance Company, and the Southern Theater. He has produced dance performances at more than 300 domestic and international venues, including seven New York City engagements, Bermuda, Iceland, and Ethiopia. Gary’s perspectives are informed by experiences in law office management, legislative lobbying, federal multi-district litigation, political candidacy, public affairs radio broadcasting, newspaper publishing, and by public service on the Washington staff of Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.
Season 1. Episode 20 – September 17th
Special Guest: Myron Johnson
Myron Johnson’s career as Artistic Director and Choreographer of the Ballet of the Dolls and the Ritz Theatre is one of his most well known legacies in the Twin Cities. He’s produced well over 150 ballets and shows no signs of slowing down or softening an edge that has defined his 50 years on the stage. Transitioning into a new phase of his career in 2011, Johnson’s solo show Songs for a Swan reflected on his training with Marcel Marceau in Paris in the 1970s, dancing in New York in the 1980s and the past 20 years performing and creating in the Twin Cities. Listen in to learn dance through the past, present and future with special guest Myron Johnson.
Season 1. Episode 18 – September 3rd
Special Guest: Karen Charles
A dedicated performer, teacher and creator, Karen Charles received a BFA Ballet/BS Computer Science from Texas Christian University and M.Ed. in Administration from Georgia State University. Charles has performed with numerous dance companies including Room to Move Dance Company (Atlanta, GA), Susan Warden Dance Company (Kansas City, MO) and was awarded a fellowship to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Charles served as Director at Perpich Arts High School and she was the founding Principal/Executive Director at Main Street School of Performing Arts. Charles has created/presented works for James Sewell Ballet, Carleton College, Macalester College, Main Street School of Performing Arts and Perpich Arts High School. In 2011, Karen founded Threads Dance Project, which was nominated for a SAGE Dance Award for Outstanding Performance in 2015.
Season 1. Episode 17 – August 27th
Special Guest: Neil Greenberg
A native of Mendota Heights, MN, Neil Greenberg studied with Minnesota Dance Theatre & School. In 1976, he moved to New York City and became a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. As a choreographer, he is known for his Not-About-AIDS-Dance, which employs his signature use of projected words as a layering strategy that provides doors into “meanings” in the dance, while also raising questions about the nature of meaning-making. He is currently Professor of Choreography at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School, and has previously taught at Purchase College, Sarah Lawrence College, and UC Riverside. His most recent project, To the things themselves! (2018), continues his interest in the move away from representation toward an experience of the performance moment in and of itself.
Season 1. Episode 16 – August 20th
Special Guest: Laurie Van Wieren
Laurie Van Wieren has been a creative force in the Twin Cities for 30+ years. Her choreography has been shown in the Twin Cities, nationally, and in Europe. 9×22 Dance/Lab, her monthly showcase, is the pre-eminent performance platform for local and visiting choreographers. She’s developed work for the Walker Art Center’s Open Field performance, which highlighted 100 local choreographers. Van Wieren has curated performance for the Southern, Ritz, Bryant Lake Bowl Theaters and Soo Visual Art Center. She is a recipient of fellowships/grants from McKnight, Jerome, Bush, NEA, Rockefeller Foundations and Mn State Arts Board. She has received a Special Citation SAGE Award and a SAGE Award for Outstanding Performance. Van Wieren received a City Pages Artists of the Year in 2016 for her solo dance Temporary Action Theory and her ongoing curation. She is currently making site-specific ensemble dance performances for parks and large spaces and a series of solo works for small spaces that explores the poetics of the human body within these architectures.
Season 1. Episode 15 – August 13th
Special Guest: Amy Behm Thomson
Amy Behm-Thomson studied dance at the University of Minnesota. She was a very active member of the Minneapolis dance community for over 15 years. Amy joined ARENA Dances in 1999 and Zenon Dance Company in 2000. She has also performed with Dancing People Company, Ragamala Music and Dance, Catalyst – Dances by Emily Johnson, and Cathy Young Dance. She is the proud mother of two young children living in North Carolina with her husband and teaching yoga at Franklin Street Yoga.
Season 1. Episode 14 – August 6th
Special Guest: Greg Waletski
Greg Waletski is a graduate of Chaska High school & St. Old College. He has been a member of the Twin Cities dance scene for over 30 years, 22 of which he was a member of Zenon Dance Company. His most recent projects have been dances by Megan Meyer, including (FW) Redux which has been interrupted by Covid. In 2013, Greg began a career transition to American Sign Language/English Interpreting and now works as an Interpreter. He was awarded McKnight Fellowships for Dance in 2000 and 2013, and a SAGE Award for outstanding performer in 2011. He is also a DJ, spinning soul 45s at the monthly dance night, Hipshaker.
Season 1. Episode 13 – July 30th
Special Guest: Linda Andrews
Since starting Zenon in 1983, Linda Andrews has earned accolades for developing the company’s unique modern and jazz aesthetic by commissioning repertory works from such choreographers as Bebe Miller, Dwight Rhoden, Bill T. Jones, Bill Young, Llory Wilson, Joe Goode, Stephanie Skura, David Dorfman, Doug Varone, Danny Buraczeski, Daniel Rousseve, Cathy Young, Keely Garfield, Johannes Wieland, Seán Curran, Colleen Thomas and Andrea Miller. She studied at the Martha Graham School, Alvin Ailey Dance Center, the Juilliard School, and with Alvin Nikolais, Lynn Simonson and Merce Cunningham. She holds a degree in dance and drama from Hollins College in Virginia. Linda has taught dance and creative movement since 1972, and has developed Zenon Dance School into a recognized training center for vocational and professional dancers. She is the mother of two amazing daughters, Laura and Lily, and lives in St. Louis Park with her two cats, Ollie and Jack.
Season 1. Episode 12 – July 23rd
Special Guest: Zoe Sealy
Early in her career, Zoe Sealy performed in ballet, jazz and musical theater, and taught and competed professionally in ballroom dance. In 1972, she founded the Zoe Sealy Dance Center, a primary training ground for jazz and tap artists. She also founded the first jazz dance company in the upper Midwest, Minnesota Jazz Dance Company. She was the first woman in the country to head a professional jazz dance company. She was an early believer in having her dancers study a combination of dance forms – ballet, tap, jazz and modern – in order to develop their knowledge, strength, and a sophisticated use of dynamics, rhythm and musicality. Her work has been commissioned across the nation and internationally. She has been on the faculties of the International Music Camp of Fine Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, Northwest Ballet and Ballet Arts Minnesota. Zoe was on the faculty in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota for 25 years [1983 – 2008] where she built the jazz program. Now retired and living in Florida, she continues to freelance as a choreographer, and still serves on various panels and boards. Her most gratifying work now is advising and mentoring younger artists, helping them to develop their skills and encouraging them as they grow in their chosen fields.
Season 1. Episode 11 – July 16th
Special Guest: Louise Robinson
Louise Robinson began dancing in her parent’s sunroom in Winona, MN at the age of three and has maintained a connection with dance in Minnesota ever since. She attended St. Olaf College, where she studied with Ann Wagner, Susan Bauer and Toni Sostek. It was during college that she started learning the administrative side of dance and first got involved in an organization being formed in the Twin Cities – MICA, aka the Minnesota Independent Choreographers’ Alliance. In the early 80’s, she managed several dance companies including Whispers of America Chamber Dance Ensemble (Margie Fargnoli, Artistic Director) the Nancy Hauser Dance Company, and the Minnesota Jazz Dance Company (Zoe Sealy, Artistic Director). In the mid-80’s, she worked for several years at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. And through the early 90’s, she served as Program Director and Executive Director of the Minnesota Dance Alliance (previously MICA), where she led the effort to utilize Studio 6A as a dance performance venue. More recently, she was Managing Director of Ragamala Dance Company helping them navigate their emergence on the national and international scene. She retired from Ragamala in 2017.
Season 1. Episode 10 – July 9th
Special Guest: April Sellers
April Sellers is an independent choreographer, dancer and performance curator who has created over 60 works over the past 18 years. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of April Sellers Dance Collective which is renowned for its complex expressions of identity in highly crafted performances. She uses movement, humor, and a mix of scripted and improvised content to explore gender, politics and pop culture. Her most recent and transgressive performance, Animal Corridor prompted the award “Best Artist of the Year” by City Pages in 2017.
Season 1. Episode 9 – July 2nd
Special Guest: Judith Brin Ingber
Judith Brin Ingber’s history in the dance field is both impressive and impactful. A Minneapolis native, Judith grew up training with Lillian Vai before moving to New York to study at Sarah Lawrence College, and the studios of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. During that time she also began writing about dance, as the editorial assistant at Dance Magazine. With a multifaceted career in dance, Judith has since split time between Minneapolis and Israel. She conceived Choroegrapher’s Evening and was the first director of the dance program of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. She taught apprentices of the two modern dance companies at the Batsheva Bat Dor Dance Society and choreographed a program for young audiences for the Batsheva Dance Company. Today, she continues to research, lecture and teach…and dance!
Season 1. Episode 8 – June 25th
Special Guest: Linda Shapiro
Linda Shapiro works as a freelance writer and has published articles, reviews and essays on dance and other subjects in The Twin Cities Reader, The Minnesota Monthly, Midwest Home & Design, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, Architecture Minnesota, Music Live, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, CLA Today, City Pages, Twin Cities Metro, The Rake and Dance Magazine and The Gay City News in New York
Season 1. Episode 7 – June 18th
Special Guest: Patrick Scully
Patrick Scully is a Minneapolis based choreographer/dancer and performance artist. He began dancing in 1972 as a college freshman. In 1976, he co-founded Contactworks, a Minneapolis based dance collective focused on contact improvisation. In 1980, he left Contactworks in search of a way to bring his voice as a gay man into the work he was creating. This eventually led him to Remy Charlip’s Naropa East workshop in 1984, Meetings with Remarkable Women. That led him to dance with Remy, beginning with Remy’s Ten Men show in BAM’s Next Wave Festival in 1984. In his heart, and daily life, Patrick is still dancing with Remy. Patrick’s most current project is Leaves of Grass – Illuminated, about Walt Whitman. In addition to his performing work, Patrick is the founder and long time director of Patrick’s Cabaret, in Minneapolis.
Season 1. Episode 6 – June 11th
Special Guest: Rosy Simas
Rosy Simas is a transdisciplinary artist who historically has presented work as a choreographer. Simas is Haudenosaunee, enrolled Seneca, Heron Clan. “The culture, history, and identity stored in my body is the underpinning of all my artwork. Creating is a spiritual act for me, rooted in nature, formed through my link to my ancestors and the land of which we are made.” Simas’ projects merge decolonized physical movement with media, sound, and objects for stage and installation. She unites cultural concepts and images with scientific and philosophical theories to create work that is literal, abstract, and metaphoric. Her work weaves themes of personal and collective identity with family, matriarchy, sovereignty, equality, and healing. She creates dance work with a team of Native artists and artists of color, driven by movement-vocabularies developed through deep listening.
Season 1. Episode 5 – June 4th
Special Guest: Erin Thompson
Erin Thompson began her dance performance career with the Minnesota Dance Theatre in 1970 and continued in New York City in the companies of Nina Wiener and Bebe Miller from 1980-1989. Erin received a New York Dance and Performance award, “BESSIE”, in 1986 for her dancing in Nina Wiener’s Enclosed Time at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. She moved back to Minneapolis in 1990, danced with Zenon Dance Company for two years, and founded 45 Chartreuse Dance Company with her husband, Byron Richard in 1992. They received choreographer’s fellowships from the McKnight Foundation (1993) and from the National Endowment for the Arts (1994, 1996).
Since 1991, Erin has been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theater Arts and Dance as well as at Zenon Dance Company where she continues to provide advanced professional contemporary/modern dance training for the Twin Cites dance community. In recent years she has appeared in the work of choreographers Joanie Smith, Judith Howard, Penny Freeh, Sharon Picasso and Deborah Jinza Thayer. Erin received a Sage Award for Outstanding Dance Educator in 2008 and the City Pages Best Dancer Award in 2016. She is also an ATI certified Alexander Technique teacher. Erin is a 2019 McKnight Dancer Fellow.
Season 1. Episode 4 – May 28th
Special Guest: Danny Buraczeski
Danny Buraczeski, is Professor Emeritus of Dance at Southern Methodist University. At SMU, he taught classic jazz dance technique, composition and choreography. A classic jazz stylist for over three decades, his work has traced a clear and deep investigation of jazz, its sources and its ongoing evolution. After a career on Broadway appearing in such musicals as MAME with Angela Lansbury and THE ACT with Liza Minnelli, he founded the original New York City based JAZZDANCE in 1979. Based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul from 1992-2005, the company performed at leading concert halls and festivals in more than 35 states, in Europe, Russia and the Caribbean. Buraczeski’s choreography has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, the Joyce Theater, the Library of Congress, the American Dance Festival, the Bates Dance Festival and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Buraczeski was named Artist of the Year in 2000 by the Minneapolis StarTribune. He has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, for whom he is now a regular panelist/consultant.
Season 1. Episode 3 – May 21st
Special Guest: Morgan Thorson
Since 2000, Morgan Thorson has generated a body of work that investigates the conventions of western concert dance through interdisciplinary collaboration. Engaged in critical dialogue with the form, and inspired by a topic, physical process or point of view, her work honors the body as a complex means of expression as it relates to the site in which it is situated. For Morgan, dancing provides communication and connection to people, silence, rage, space, beauty and itinerant imagination.
A certified Skinner Releasing Technique instructor, she is a 2016 Creative Campus Fellow at Wesleyan University where she engages students and professors in interdisciplinary practices, developing pedagogy in Dance, Archaeology, and Religious Studies.
Season 1. Episode 2 – May 14th
Special Guest: Kenna-Camara Cottman
Kenna-Camara Cottman has worked in the field of dance and art for over 20 years. Kenna is a Black American Griot, following in the oral tradition of storytelling through art. She has studied traditional and contemporary drum and dance forms from experts such as Ananya Chatterjee, Koto N’Gum, Fode Seydou Bangoura, Backa Niang and William Atchouellou. She is a dance educator who teaches about the history of African peoples through art, culture, movement and song. Managing her own company, Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, has given Kenna the opportunity to train with world class artists and develop her traditional drum and dance skills. Combining these forms with her experiences, Kenna creates contemporary Black dance that deals with interesting topics, confusing cultural ideas, and movement-based puzzles.
Season 1. Episode 1 – May 7th
Special Guest: Caroline Palmer
Caroline Palmer is a freelance arts writer. She began writing in New York City at Paper Magazine and also contributed to American Theater and Movement Research Journal. After moving to Minnesota, she contributed to City Pages and Star Tribune for several years before starting work on book about the history of dance in the Twin Cities. She has also written a blog, Big Dance Town.