RS 2016 – Meet the Choreographers #3 – Rush Benson!

Meet Rush Benson, our third feature of the seven choreographers of RS 2016:


Rush Benson | Rush Benson is an actor, dancer, teacher, musician, and choreographer originally from Minneapolis, MN. In 2013, Rush graduated with a B.A. in Theatre and Dance from Gustavus Adolphus College and is currently a company member with the Flying Foot Forum directed by Joe Chvala. Rush works as a musical theater choreographer and dance teacher at Washburn High School, Ramsey Middle School and Henry Sibley High School. Most recently, Rush has performed at The Guthrie (“The Music Man”), The Ordway (“A Chorus Line”) and The Old Log Theater (“The Wedding Singer”). In 2014, Rush traveled to Hong Kong to perform as a musician and artist in the Pier Windows Project with Folded Paper Dance and Theatre directed by Kanta Kochar. Rush has performed in choreographic works by Jamal Sims (Choreographer from the Step Up film series), Phillip Flickinger, Heather Klopchin, Stephan Koplowitz, and Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. He has also performed locally with the James Sewell Ballet, Collide Theatrical Dance Company, Bloomington Civic Theater, Minnesota Dance Theater, Keane Sense of Rhythm Tap Company, Youth Performance Company, and in the jazz-based dance show “Rhythmically Speaking.” Rush teaches regularly at Zenon Dance School in Minneapolis. He enjoys a solid jam session, ciphers, colored pencils, animals, nature, and the feeling you get from a deep intellectual discussion.

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RS 2016 – Meet the Choreographers #2 – Rae Charles!

Meet Rae Charles, our second feature of the seven choreographers of RS 2016:


Rachel (Rae) Charles made her professional performance and choreographic debut in 2011 as a Guest Artist & Choreographer for the Threads Dance Project in Minneapolis, MN. The following year, Charles was awarded a BFA in Dance with honors from the Tisch School of the Arts and was also recognized as one of the most “up and coming young choreographers” participating in the 2012 Young Choreographer’s Festival in New York City. She has danced for the likes of Erin Bomboy, MBDance, areadance, and Mike Esperanza’s BARE Dance Company while continuing her work as a freelance choreographer—self-producing showings in New York as well as setting work as a teacher and choreographer throughout the Twin Cities. Ms. Charles also has performed the repertoire of Robert Battle, Ron K. Brown, David Dorfman, Larry Kegwin, Alonzo King, Nicholas Leichter, Sydney Skybetter, Kate Weare, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar among many others before joining Threads Dance Project as a full-time company member and Development Manager in 2014. Today, she is thrilled to continue growing as an educator and fulfilling her passion of empowering the next generation of dancers as a full time instructor at Main Street School of the Performing Arts.

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RS 2016 – Meet the Choreographers #1 – Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner

As we lead up to the show, we are excited to share with you more about each of the Rhythmically Speaking 2016 choreographers! First up: Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner!


Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner is a teaching specialist and creative practitioner in the areas of both contemporary post-modern dance and American concert jazz technique.  Gutierrez-Garner received her B.F.A. Summa Cum Laude at the University of Minnesota, and her M.F.A. as an Advanced Opportunity Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. Original works by Gutierrez-Garner have been commissioned by numerous colleges and universities across the U.S., and by regional repertory companies including the Minnesota Dance Theater, Zenon Dance Company and Dulce Dance Company. Her work, which has been produced  nationally and has seen support from organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Walker Art Center, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She has taught on the dance faculties of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and Gustavus Adolphus College, as well as the prestigious Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine. She currently serves on the faculty of Western Oregon University.

Keep your eyes peeled for more on our 2016 choreographers!

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Dancer Audition for Rhythmically Speaking 2016!

Looking to get your rhythm on, Minnesota dancer-types? Come out to Rhythmically Speaking’s audition for dancers!

Liebhard 6 - Cameron

RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard and 2016 choreographer Rae Charles are looking for folks for their work in this year’s RS annual production, running August 18-20 at the Southern Theater. Audition details:

When: Sunday, May 29th, 1-3pm
Where: The Illusion Theater @ The Cowles Center
Bring: A resume and headshot

The mission of Rhythmically Speaking is to revitalize jazz and rhythm-based dance forms in the Twin Cities, supporting its practitioners, educating its audiences, and celebrating its rich history while nurturing innovation through performance. Our anchor program is our annual production, each year featuring some of the best local and national choreographers working in jazz, rhythm-driven and vernacularly-inspired dance. This year’s choreographers also include Rush Benson, Cindy Garner, Karla Grotting, Laura Selle-Virtucio and Pat Taylor (Artistic Director of Jazz Antiqua in Los Angeles).

If you are interested in joining our community for this year’s production, come out to the audition! Questions can be directed to

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RS 2016 Choreographer Announcement


Thank you to all who submitted choreographic work for Rhythmically Speaking 2016. Each year, we receive many solid, thoughtful, intriguing and high-quality submissions, which makes for a lot of difficult decisions. Like a creative puzzle, the show has been curated as a whole to represent a wide, diverse range of work while fitting together as a cohesive, intriguing show of a decent length. There were many factors at play in selecting works for the show, including centrality of metric rhythm, artistic quality, style, concept, and length. Choreographers for the 2016 show are as follows:

Rush Benson
Rae Charles
Cindy Garner
Karla Grotting
Laura Selle-Virtucio
Pat Taylor (Artistic Director of LA-based company Jazz Antiqua)

RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard will also be presenting a piece in the show. We truly enjoyed viewing your work, and encourage you to continue creating and enriching our community; we are really blown away by the wealth of rhythmic talent in the Twin Cities! Thank you for engaging with Rhythmically Speaking. We hope you will stay connected with us in the future, as we exist to serve the jazz and rhythm-based dance community of which you are a part!

Groove on,

Rhythmically Speaking Programming Committee

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