Monica and Graciela are pioneers in a new form of aerial dance, and they’re some of the most amazing and diverse dance professionals I’ve ever met. On this episode of DLEW, they’re sharing their vision and approach to aerial dance, and they’re diving into what’s inside their new book, Aerial Dance for Dancers ? Hammock ? Technique and Syllabus 1.
Learn more about Monica & Graciela’s new book at: www.aerialdancefordancers.com
Sisters and passionate advocates of the power of movement, Monica and Graciela Newsam studied ballet and contemporary dance in their native Panama, yoga and Indian classical dance in India, and circus and acrobatics all over the world. They co-founded and still regularly collaborate with Gramo Danse, the first aerial dance company in Panama.
In 2015, Monica & Graciela Newsam created NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE in order to expand global awareness of this unique art form. As teachers, performers and choreographers – Monica at Webster University in Saint Louis MO, and Graciela with her company Arts de l’Air, on the French Riviera – the sisters fulfil their dream of introducing performers of all ages to the excitement of aerial dance.
Monica Newsam, President of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE, was born in Panama. Her discovery of a passion for movement and dance at age five marked the beginning of a life-long journey to define her singular artistic vision.
Monica’s internationally acclaimed body of work in dance and choreography stretches across four continents. She has performed in France, Italy, India, Ecuador, El Salvador, Cuba, the Bahamas and the United States. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National School of Dance and Folklore in Havana, where she also performed professionally with the Cuban dance company “Retazos.” Upon her return to Panama, Monica co-created the first panamanian contemporary dance company “Creadanza,” with her sister and constant collaborator Graciela Newsam.
Monica continued her exploration of international movement styles in India. She received a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala, and also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. Following successful performances in New Delhi, both Monica and Graciela performed in France and Italy. Returning home again, Monica joined the faculty at the University of Panama as a professor of dance, while continuing to perform extensively in Central and South America.
In 1999, inspired by their desire to take dance into the local community, Graciela and Monica co-founded Gramo Danse Company, the first aerial dance company in Panama. In her continuing relationship with Gramo Danse as performer and contributing choreographer, Monica is fulfilling her dream of educating children about the power of dance.
In 2003, Monica received a master’s degree in education from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. She began exploring aerial circus techniques which lent new perspectives to her artistic work. Currently, Monica teaches aerial dance at Webster University in St. Louis, where she also choreographs for its Dance Ensembles. In 2010 and 2011, Monica worked with the St. Louis non-profit consortium ANNONYArts to produce her shows “Aerial Fusion” and “Airborne Soirée.”
Throughout her extensive creative output, Monica seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline. Her most recent projects include the joint development with Graciela of a university-level aerial dance curriculum. Monica first introduced this curriculum Xielo/Gramo Danse in Panama, and is expanding it with her students at Webster.
Graciela Newsam, Co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE, was born in Panama and started dancing at an early age. While studying journalism at the University of Panama, Graciela began teaching dance under the guidance of renowned instructors Ginela Vasquez, Leslie Reyes and Barbara Berger. She performed in different venues throughout Panama City, such as the Pacific Theater Center and the Panama Canal Zone. She also co-founded the first Panamanian contemporary dance company “Creadanza,” with her sister and life-long collaborator Monica Newsam.
Graciela’s enthusiasm for dance has inspired her to study different styles of movement such as classical ballet, contemporary dance, gymnastics, Indian classical dance, yoga, and aerial circus. While studying in India, Graciela received a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center; she also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. Successful performances in New Delhi generated invitations for Graciela to perform in both France and Italy. Her interest in dance analysis brought her to Paris to study Benesh Movement Notation at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Paris, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1997.
As a professor of dance at the University of Panama, Graciela developed an interest in the native dances of her country. Her 1998 article “La Danza en Ngobe,” based on her research into the authentic dance culture of the Ngobe-Buglé people, appeared in the book Pueblos Indígenas de Panamá, published by UNESCO.
In 1999, inspired by their desire to take dance into the local community, Graciela and Monica co-founded Gramo Danse Company, the first aerial dance company in Panama. Graciela also began exploring aerial circus techniques in order to add another dimension to her work. Through her continuing association with Gramo Danse as a teacher, performer and choreographer, Graciela is fulfilling her dream of introducing children to the power of dance.
In all the facets of her artistic output, Graciela seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline. Her current projects include the joint development with Monica of a university-level aerial dance curriculum. This curriculum has already been implemented Xielo/Gramo Danse in Panama, with a future expansion planned at Webster University in St. Louis.
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