RS 10/2018

With our 2018 annual production, Rhythmically Speaking (RS) celebrates 10 years of presenting lively new and restaged choreographic work inspired by American vernacular dance ideas. We support innovative Twin Cities artists at various ranges in their careers and welcome guests from other cities to share their ideas with us. When we open submissions to the public each year, we’re always thrilled to see what choreographers are creating. We are proud to support the development of work in and ongoing conversation around what constitutes American vernacular dance.



We are excited to announce the choreographers this years panel (Brian Evans, Erinn Liebhard and Zoe Sealy) have selected to show work on this years production:


Gabriel Anderson & Laura Selle-Virtucio
Leila Awadallah
Melissa Clark
Brandi Coleman (Dallas TX)
Karla Grotting
Jolene Konkel
Emma Marlar


RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard will also have a piece on the show.


WHERE: The Southern Theater in Minneapolis, MN

WHEN: August 16-18, 2018 @ 7:30pm and August 18 @ 2pm (Talk Backs after the 8/17 evening and 8/18 afternoon show)




Learn more about this year’s artists:


Gabriel Anderson & Laura Selle-Virtucio

Gabriel Anderson | is a freelance dance artist based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Recent performance credits include: Hear Here, a Live Music & Movement Festival (Maggie Bergeron & Company/ Cedar Cultural Center), Rhythmically Speaking 2017 (Jeffrey Peterson, The Illusion Theater), and Field Dances (Merce Cunningham reconstruction/ Walker Art Center). Gabriel danced consistently in the works of Mathew Janczewski’s ARENA DANCES prior to attending the University of Iowa to receive his Master of Fine Arts (emphasis in choreography) in 2012. Gabriel’s own works have been performed at colleges, universities, and performance venues, including: St. Olaf College, Hamline University, Ritz Theater, Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater, and as part of activities with the Arts Schools Network national conference at Northrop Auditorium. Currently, Mr. Anderson serves as Chair of the Department of Dance at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, where he teaches and provides curricular, programmatic and administrative oversight.

Laura Selle-Virtucuio | from Sioux Falls, SD, received a BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota in 1999. She is the Artistic Associate with Shapiro & Smith Dance, with whom she has danced 15 years and also serves as Rehearsal Director and stages the company’s repertoire across the country. She has performed work by Chris Schlichting since 2012; most recently completing performances at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in NYC and a new work residency at MANCC in Tallahasse, FL. In years past, Laura performed with Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater, Carl Flink’s Black Label Movement and Zenon Dance Company. While with Zenon, she had the pleasure of dancing in works by Luciana Achugar, Faye Driscoll, Daniel Charon, and Danny Buraczeski to name a few. Laura received a 2007 McKnight Fellowship for Dancers and a MN Sage Award for Best Performer. She also teaches dance at the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts and occasionally the University of Minnesota.


Leila Awadallah | is an emerging Palestinian-American dancer and choreographer based in the Twin Cities. Thematically, her creative work unfolds within the intersections of diasporic Arab identity, Palestinian stories, and building a deeper connectivity with ancestry as it lives in the body’s cellular memory. Linked to this is an intentional response to the ways mainstream media / histories erase, vilify, and distort Arab and Palestinian identity. In terms of movement aesthetic, Leila is more recently beginning to explore how Arab cultural forms, such as folk dance, the rhythms in Arabic music, and Arabic calligraphy, can be embedded into the movement she choreographs. Making within a contemporary context, Leila is researching how to saturate her artistry with influences from diasporic Palestinian identity in order to develop her own articulation of Arab American contemporary dance. She thanks Ananya Dance Theatre and the Jerome foundation for both inspiring, guiding and supporting this research. Leila is a 5 year company member of Ananya Dance Theatre and a co-creator of Kelvin Wailey. 


Melissa Clark | Originally from Gary, Indiana, Melissa began studying dance at the age of two. As a Diasporic artist with over thirty years of training and performing in Classical, Contemporary, and Traditional Folkloric dance forms, her specific interests focus on identifying and promoting cross-cultural intersections in dance and arts aesthetics, musicality, historical content, and curative properties. Melissa has actively trained, studied, and performed various art forms in Twin Cities for the past twelve years. Her background includes: Capoeira, Ballet, Tap, Modern, Contemporary, Samba, Hip Hop, Chicago House, Afro-Brasilian, Afro-Cuban, West African Dance from Ghana and Guinea, as well as Traditional Haitian Dance.


Brandi Coleman | is an Artist in Residence in Jazz Dance at Southern Methodist University and is the associate artistic director of Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project. JRJP is an Emmy Award winning performing and teaching company that celebrates the communal core of jazz performance – dancing, singing and storytelling in rhythmically syncopated bursts of energy. As a performing and teaching artist with the company, she received an Emmy Award for her performance in the PBS documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project: Getting There and has led residencies and master classes at universities across the country and internationally. As well, her choreography has been presented at Links Hall, Northwestern University, Stephens College, Carthage College, University of Dubuque, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Southern Methodist University. Brandi holds a BA in Dance from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL and an MFA in Performing Arts: Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Karla Grotting | is a dancer, choreographer and educator 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 FTF Works. Karla has been on faculty with the University of Minnesota Department of Theater and Dance since 1998. She has created dance works for the Flying Foot Forum, Carleton College, 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.


Jolene Konkel | began her dance training at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts and under William Reilly, a descendent of Jerome Robbins’ Ballets USA. While in Milwaukee she first performed professionally with the Milwaukee Ballet and the Milwaukee Opera Company before relocating to Chicago to study jazz dance at Gus Giordano’s and the Lou Conte Dance Studio. She then migrated to Minneapolis to pursue a BFA in dance at the University of Minnesota, where she studied under and performed the works of Zoe Sealy, Cathy Young and Danny Buraczeski. In 2007, she completed her MFA in Performance and Choreography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her choreography spans from musical theatre, having choreographed over 35 productions (including Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, Phantom of the Opera, Anything Goes and West Side Story), to jazz and modern concert dance that has been presented as a part of UWM’s Dancemakers series, Jazz Here, Jazz Now at the U of M, Renovate Choreographers Evening at the Ritz Theater, and at the Old Arizona, Patrick’s Cabaret, Zenon Dance Zone, the MN Fringe Festival and for Rhythmically Speaking in 2008 and 2011. Currently, Jolene serves as Adjunct Faculty in Dance and Resident Choreographer at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, where she developed and oversees the Department of Music and Theatre’s dance minor. She is thrilled to be back as a choreographer for Rhythmically Speaking, presenting a tribute to Jerome Robbins in celebration of his centennial.


Emma Marlar |, originally from Kenosha, WI, now resides in the Minneapolis area, balancing a career in the performance, creation, and technical aspects of dance. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a BFA in Dance in 2016, she has taken on work that allows her to support others, create collaboratively, and pursue endless explorations in movement. Emma is the Production Manager for Ananya Dance Theatre and has been with the company for five seasons. She also is constantly moving and making in the emerging dance trio, Kelvin Wailey, and continues to dance in other project based work around the Twin Cities. Emma is incredibly excited and grateful to take on this choreographic opportunity with Rhythmically Speaking 2018, after having been involved in the show for many years. She can’t wait to present new work in such a supportive community!