Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who is Michelle Mola?

A 2007 Juilliard graduate, Michelle Mola already has an extensive resume including an impressive number of awards and accomplishments. Her senior year of college, Michelle and a group of students raised funds to travel to Peru for one month and share dance with the people. They successfully fund raised enough money to support the troupe on a four-week, four-city tour of Peru, and dubbed themselves the Public Dance Theater. The goal of that trip was to perform as a dance company and also to provide free workshops to anyone who was interested. They worked with University students in Peru as well as impoverished children’s resource centers. While on this trip, Mola was able to premier her choreography, “Fish out of Water,” at the Instituta Cultura Peruana Norte Americano in Cusco, Peru.

Soon after graduation, she was awarded a grant as part of being named one of 10 recipients of the new Leonore Annenberg Fellowships in the Performing and Visual Arts. Mola plans to present new choreography and continue her work as a teacher and artist who operates inside and outside of the concert hall.

Recently, Mola was unanimously chosen by the 2008 Dance Films Association team of mentors as the winner of the 2008 Susan Braun Award to create a dance for the camera for DFA.

Thank you to choreographer, Michelle Mola for responding to interview questions for the PeriBlog. Michelle sent her written response from residency at The Yard Dance Colony on Martha’s Vineyard.

Q. As an artist, what is your favorite part of the creating process; from conception to stage?
A. We are always asking questions, finding ways to describe life, becoming moved by it. The line between truth and fiction is a mirage. I like to ask how do you reveal truth beyond the merely factual? When a performer identifies with a concept and believes something to be true, my favorite part is watching it turn into pretend.

Q. Can you tell me a little more about your work with Gluck Community Fellowship Program?
A. What most people call outreach is an integrated part of my work. The programs were for Juilliard students to share performances with patients at Metropolitan health care facilities. We danced for modest sized audiences in psychiatric wards, nursing homes, Aids clinics and Children's hospitals; we also talked informally. CSF programs give people a change from the daily routine of hospital life. I became a better performer there.

Q. What is your most prominent memory of the trip to Peru in 2006?
A. I became a teacher in Peru. This is the first place I taught improvisation and I learned to speak and teach in Spanish. The artists who I traveled with had information about their work to share with the students at La Catolica University in Lima. They were the first people in the country to graduate with degrees in Dance. Those same people formed a company called Andanzas. I am hugely supportive of their efforts and drive to continue dancing. Life led me to Peru and I found exchange and friendship here. Teaching and performing in cities (Arequipa, Lima, Cusco and Atalaya) where there is almost no infrastructure for dancing, but there's an interest, was empowering to everyone involved. Andanzas continues to self produce their own work in addition to teaching the younger generation throughout the city of Lima.

Q. What advice could you give another aspiring choreographer in the beginning of their professional career?
A. Tell people why you believe in what you ask them to do.

Q. What was the process like applying and receiving the grant from Annenberg Fellowship Foundation? How has that changed your mindset of your work?
A. You never know what can happen. I got a phone call about a fellowship nomination and I wrote a proposal. Through the fellowship Larry Rhodes, the Director of The Juilliard Dance, has become a mentor. It’s great to be the first choreographer and performer awarded. I was working as a cleaning lady before this to fund new pieces. I didn’t perform for anybody else so I could continue to make things while many learn about choreography by being a dancer. Other dancers have always encouraged me. And these relationships mean a great deal to me. Through friendships and periods of solitude I have always had everything I needed to get myself started. As a choreographer hopefully strong new work is on the way. This is a time to study and enjoy doing what I’ve wanted to since becoming inspired to make dance. Whatever adversity you will encounter in your life and careers I hope you always continue dancing. You never know what can happen or who is watching you.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A. New York City, The Catskills, Traveling

Q. Who were some of your influences or best teachers?
A. My best teacher was Andra Corvino. Northeastern shores


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