Rhythmically Speaking 2017 marks the ninth installment of our annual production featuring the work of local and national choreographers working in jazz and American vernacular dance. This year’s production, exploring how rhythm and groove serve as means to both escape and connect, will feature the work of:

(Photo by Bill Cameron)

Karla Grotting
O’Calla Joslyn
Kaleena Miller
Laura Osterhaus
Jeffrey Peterson (MN-bred, PA-based)
Abigail Whitmore

RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard will also be presenting a piece in the show. Choreographer bios available below.

WHERE: the Illusion Theater in downtown Minneapolis, MN

WHEN: August 17-19 @ 7:30pm and August 19th @ 2pm

TICKETS: Available for advanced online purchase or at the door each night of the production. If you wish to support the show beyond the price of a ticket and to contribute directly to the creation process of the 2017 artists, visit our DONATE & SUPPORT page!

TRANSPORTATION: More on this to come soon.

BEFORE + AFTER: More on this to come soon.


Karla Grotting | is a dancer, choreographer, educator, and producer working with a unique blend of jazz, tap, modern, and percussive dance techniques. She is founding member, principal dancer, and artistic associate with Joe Chvala’s The Flying Foot Forum, and has performed with companies such as Jazzdance: by Danny Buraczeski, MN Jazz Dance Co,  Keane Sense of Rhythm, Off-Leash Area, and Combustible Company. Karla has been on faculty with the University of Minnesota Department of Theater and Dance since 1998, and a guest artist and instructor at St Olaf College since 2014. She has created dance works for Gustavus Adolphus College, St Olaf College, UW-Whitewater, Macalester College, Eclectic Edge Ensemble and others. Karla was named as one of City Pages’ Artists of the Year for 2015. Her project, Lost Voices in Jazz: The Choreographers of the Minnesota Jazz Dance Company was recognized with the Sage Award for Outstanding Performance in 2015.

O’Calla Joslyn | In her younger years, O’Calla took jazz and tap at the local dance studio, and co-founded Revolution Youth Theater as a teenager, performing and choreographing in shows the group toured in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The organization won the Minnesota Peace Prize in 2000 for work done in the community. College at the University of Minnesota brought more dance opportunities, during and after which she performed and choreographed for events throughout the community. Favorites include Moulin Rouge New Years Eve and Prince Night at First Avenue. Since college, she’s danced for April Sellers Dance Collective and choreographed and performed for Enticing Entertainment. She is currently rehearsing for Erinn Liebhard’s new work being presented at Icehouse in Spring of 2017. This is O’Calla’s first year presenting work in Rhythmically Speaking.

Erinn Liebhard | (MFA University of Colorado Boulder, BFA University of Minnesota) is a dance artist that makes opportunities for people to experience the embodiment of music, with a speciality in jazz and the America vernacular. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Rhythmically Speaking, is currently on faculty at Winona State University and is a Teaching Artist for the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, and her scholarly work has been featured in publications including Journal of Dance Education. Her choreography has been presented across the U.S. and Canada, and she has performed for creatives as varied as hip-hop dance theater artist Rennie Harris, contemporary performance company Off-Leash Area and the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers Appalachian clogging company. She is currently a company member of Contempo Physical Dance and enjoys flexing her physical comedy musclesplaying “Nerdette” for Saint Paul Saints Baseball’s Entertainment Team.

Kaleena Miller | is a founding member of Rhythmic Circus, Co-Director of the Twin Cities Tap Festival, and host of the Cutting Board. She is also a 2015 McKnight Dance Fellow and was recently named one of DANCE Magazine’s “25 to Watch”. She is also director/ lead choreographer for Kaleena Miller Dance, a tap dance group devoted to the historical preservation as well as the creative advancement of American Tap Dance.

Laura Osterhaus | is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota—Twin Cites, receiving her B.A. in dance and retail merchandising/fashion studies. During her time at the U of M, Laura had the opportunity to perform the work of modern/contemporary dance choreographers Uri Sands, Nora Chipaumire, Gregory Dolbashian, Maurya Kerr, Scott Rink, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Garth Fagan, Gerald Casel, Wynn Fricke, Joanie Smith, and Erin Thompson. She is currently digging deeper into performance through an apprenticeship with Zenon Dance Company, performing the work of Danny Buraczeski this past fall. Laura is also a co-founder and co-director of Kelvin Wailey, an emerging dance group that dabbles in developing performance in obscure places. She is excited and eager for this opportunity to further her own work!

Jeffrey Peterson | holds a BFA in dance from the University of Minnesota, an MFA in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a Certification in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis (LMA) from Integrated Movement Studies. Professional credits include JAZZDANCE! By Danny Buraczeski, ARENA dances by Mathew Janczewski, Clare Byrne, Edisa Weeks, the Minnesota Opera, as well as the Madison Scouts and Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps, to name a few. Called “moving and heart racingly joyous” by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and “poetic precision” by the Minneapolis StarTribune, Peterson’s choreography has been seen at venues including Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, Judson Memorial Church, The Minnesota Fringe Festival, The Bryant Lake Bowl, Intermedia Arts, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He has staged choreography on student dance companies at Gustavus Adolphus College, Hamline University, St. Mary’s University – Winona, the Perpich Center for Arts Education, Old Dominion University, University of Vermont and Bucknell University. His scholarly work, focusing on contextualizing and supporting Jazz dance through applied research on the African diaspora and somatics, has been presented through the National Dance Education Organization and Bill Evans’ Somatics Conferences. Originally from Minnesota, Peterson teaches modern, jazz, partnering, composition, and LMA as an Assistant Professor of Dance at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This is his third time presenting his work as part of Rhythmically Speaking.

Abigail Whitmore | is a dancer, pilates instructor, and choreographer in the Twin Cities. The month of May brings graduation from the University of Minnesota Dance Program where she has worked with numerous guest artists including Justin Jones, Martha Graham Dance Company, Gerald Casel, Joanie Smith, Luciana Achugar, Michel Kouakou, and Angharad Davies. She represented the University at the American College Dance Association in 2015, presenting research on “The Changing Context of Contemporary Dance” and again in 2016, performing work by Leila Awadallah at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.. Abigail has been involved in the local dance community and performed an improvised solo at Future Interstates as well as adapted an existing solo for a grove of trees at Laurie Van Wieren’s Field Work. Last summer she co-presented a performance at Glam Doll Donuts with Annika Hansen. She is grateful for the opportunity to present at Rhythmically Speaking!

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