Rhythmically Speaking presents . . .


When: August 14th, 7:30-9pm
Where: Zoom Webinars
How: Reserve your spot and receive access information through Eventbrite
$20-24 suggested donation via our GiveMN page

Rhythmically Speaking is a dance company on a mission to spark vibrancy and connectedness through engagement with staged works inspired by jazz and American social dance ideas. We are moved by and wish to share with you the ways these modes of creative expression connect us to the moment, ourselves and others, music and movement during a time in which the human need for connection has been so illuminated. While we usually create human connection through live workshops and performances, our difficult but necessary decision to postpone our twelfth annual August show (The Cohort 2020) to May 20-22, 2021 has challenged us to connect in a new way: with a virtual event we’ve aptly titled The Cohort: From Home!

The Cohort: From Home will stream live via Zoom August 14, one of the nights The Cohort 2020 was supposed to play (8/13-8/15) at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. The event, running from 7:30-9:00pm, will offer sneak peeks of the choreography that will be featured on the show we’re now calling The Cohort 20/21 in May 2021, live improvisations by RS dancers, and other good stuff, all coming to you from the homes of our artists. Stick around afterward for a Happy Hour with them!

Your Eventbrite reservation guarantees you’ll have one of 100 total Zoom sign-ins available for the live show (viewing optimal on laptop or desktop computer). If you cannot make the live event (or it sells out!), video of it will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel for a full week after the event. A donation of $20-$24 per person watching is suggested, and can be made at our GiveMN page (if you are not able to contribute right now, please consider the show a gift!) Your donation/s of what a ticket to our live show this August would have cost will help ensure the vibrant, unique programming of our small but significant nonprofit arts organization will again make it to stage and studio where it thrives. As an organization built around dance forms with African and Latin diasporic roots and branches, anti-racism and intersectional justice efforts must also be central in our work, which is why we will proudly donate 10% of the proceeds from this event to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Folks watching the show via YouTube, if you’d like to check out the chat that happened during the show, here it is!




Visiting: Dougie Robbins

Dougie Robbins is a New York based director and choreographer, and Artistic Director of DPRdance. DPRdance sets out to identify and expand theatrical jazz. Favorite presentation venues so far: LPAC, Dixon Place, TaDa!. Visit the DPR website to learn more.

Dougie’s work for The Cohort 2020, SCAT CATS, is set in a 40’s New York jazz club – the “Drunken Stumble” – and follows the story of a couple who meet across the dance floor. Using traditional theater jazz technique and golden age jazz music as a foundation, SCAT CATS interprets jazz improvisation to mine the subconsciousness of the characters and further the story, creating an entertaining, heartwarming, fast-paced piece of dance.

Local: Kayla Schiltgen

Kayla Schiltgen is an artist and farmer from Two Harbors, Minnesota. Through movement, narrative, humor, and improvisation she creates work that reflects how she navigates the world and finds understanding for what is occurring in her daily life. Her background has inspired a curiosity around work, community, traditional craft, and pace which has become a source for generating choreography. Kayla’s work has been presented as part of Walker Art Center’s Choreographer’s Evening, Eclectic Edge Ensemble’s First Jazz View, multiple Dances at the Lake Festivals, Dances on the Lakewalk in Duluth, and multiple Minnesota Fringe Festivals.

Her new work for The Cohort 2020, Long Drag, examines the implications of groove through sea shanties, jazz funk, and movement. Action shot photo credit to Stan Waldhauser.

Visiting: Ayo Walker

Dr. Ayo Walker is a Performance Studies Practitioner, Choreographer, and Dance Educator. Ayo’s latest works, “The Breedlove’s Pas de Duke” and “Do Hashtags Make Black Lives Matter?” were produced by her project-based dance company, Ayo & Company and commissioned by PUSHfest, National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), Sacramento Black Art of Dance (S/BAD), the DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival, and Emergence Dance Festival. Ayo is honored to join Rhythmically Speaking’s The Cohort 2020.

While undoing fear of whites losing dominance due to learning from a black body, Ayo’s work being revisited for The Cohort, The Boom Boom Room, challenges the approach to mastering culturally othered dance aesthetics from spectating and requires the embodiment of black vernacular dances rather than stealing steps stripped of their groove. Utilizing a mixed race cast of dancers to see the Juke Joint in the unseen (an integrated public gathering), The Boom Boom Room explores African American vernacular dance styles representing the get down quality of plantation dancing, and swing styles such as the Boogie Woogie and Bop that later became social jazz dance forms and the first stirrings of an American cultural aesthetic.

RS Artistic/ Executive Director Erinn Liebhard also creates work for this production.

Erinn’s work for The Cohort 2020 will explore the jazz sensibilities and human toil and triumph embedded in the work of modern musical icon Thom Yorke and his band Radiohead through embodied exploration of jazz covers of their work.


Nieya Amezquita:

Nieya graduated from the University of Georgia with a BFA in dance and a BS in psychology. Dance has given Nieya the opportunity to perform nationally and internationally, showcase choreography at ACDA, work for the Joffrey Ballet school, and teach dance within her communities. She currently works with Threads Dance project, Concerto Dance and Rhythmically Speaking. She hopes to continue to be a part of works that generate conversations about the social, racial and psychological state of our society today.

Rae Charles:

Rae Charles, BFA New York University, M.Ed University of Michigan, was selected as an “up and coming young choreographer” at the 2012 Young Choreographer’s Festival in New York City. She joined Threads Dance Project as a full-time company member and Development Manager in 2014, and went on to become a Dance Instructor PiM Arts High School in Eden Prairie. Charles is currently pursuing her Ph.d in Arts in Education at the University of Minnesota, researching dance education, educational reform, culturally relevant pedagogy, anti-racism, equity, and social justice.

Doug Hooker:

Doug graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelors in Dance. He has had a variety of professional performing opportunities, including with the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps, touring with Broadway show Blast!. Local works of note include Dancing People Company, ARENA DANCES, Paula Mann, The Minnesota Opera, Threads Dance Project, and Shapiro & Smith.

Amy Jones:

Amy graduated with a degree in Theater/ Dance from Luther College and has performed concert and commercial contemporary, jazz, hip-hop and ballet in NYC and Minneapolis. She is also a pilates and aerial fitness instructor.

Sara Karimi:

A native of Wisconsin and a graduate of University of Iowa (BFA in Dance Performance, BA in English), Sara has danced and toured nationally and internationally with Kayle & Co., 10,000 Feet Dance Company, The Architects and Threads Dance Project, among others. Upon relocating to the Twin Cities seven years ago, she has worked with regional and local choreographers; and is in her sixth season with Threads Dance Project and her seventh season with Borealis Dance. Sara is also a 400 hour certified yoga instructor and has taught workshops and classes in Colorado, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Kelli Miles:

Kelli is a Minneapolis-based dancer, choreographer, teacher and arts manager. She graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in the Spring of 2018 with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Leadership. Throughout her training, she has spent time dancing in New York City, San Francisco, Nashville and Israel. She has had the honor of performing works by Ohad Naharin, Banning Bouldin, Uri Sands, Gina Patterson and Angharad Davies. Kelli is constantly inspired by way in which this movement form sparks conversation, invokes visceral reactions and creates community.

Kathleen Pender:

Kathleen Pender is a Minneapolis-based performer, dance educator, and arts administrator with a B.A. in Dance from St. Olaf College. She teaches for the Northfield Arts Guild and Young Dance, where she also works as Communication Assistant. She has performed in works by local choreographers Erinn Liebhard, April Sellers, Julie Warder, Taja Will, and Pat Taylor/JazzAntiqua (LA), among others. Kathleen is passionate about community and relationships cultivated through movement exploration, education, and performance.

John Surber:

John Surber is a professional dance artist and teacher out of the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area who graduated Cum Laude from Gustavus Adolphus College with a B.A. in Dance in May of 2017. John started dancing in college, training primarily in modern, and dabbling in the areas of jazz and hip hop. John has performed with Rhythmically Speaking, Arbeit Opera Theatre, 16 Feet, Kinetic Evolutions and the Christopher Watson Dance Company and 8:20 Dance Company. He also teaches for Reflections Dance Academy in Shakopee.

Crissy Tolson:

Crissy Tolson has worked with numerous Twin Cities companies and artists such as Rhythmically Speaking, Alternative Motion Project, Loom Lab, Borealis Dance, Pedro Pablo and Laura Selle Virtucio. She is also a founding member of Painting the Room, a Minneapolis based music/dance/text improvisation group. Her performance has been highlighted by the Star Tribune: “She commanded such presence… articulating emotions with precision …downright terrifying”. Off the stage, she’s co-produced and directed three shows for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Crissy holds a BFA in Dance from George Mason University and recently went to Amsterdam to study improvisation composition under Katie Duck.

Technical Assistance:

  • Luther Bell: Owner – Twin Lake Media/ RS Advisory Panel
  • Jillian Bell: National Technical Representative – Tamron USA
  • Kristine Elias: Communications Director – University of Minnesota Medical School/ RS Advisory Panel
  • Kristoffer Olson: Associate Director, Analytics – ICF Next/ RS Advisory Panel

Happy Hour Co-Hosts:

  • Hannah Elias: Development Operations – Planned Parenthood North Central States/ RS Advisory Panel
  • Brian J. Evans: Assistant Professor of Dance – Bates College/ RS Advisory Panel

Choreographer Selection Panel:

  • Brian J. Evans: Assistant Professor of Dance – Bates College/ RS Advisory Panel
  • Erinn Liebhard: RS Artistic Director/ Dance Artist
  • Zoe Sealy: Professor Emeritus – U of M Dance Program & RS Advisory Panel


The music used in the show features the following artists: Jack Brass Band, Mammal Hands, James Copus, Jacob Gurevitsch, Christian Sands, Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids, Athletic Progression, Kan Sano, Adrian Younge – Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Roy Ayers, Common and Samora Pinderhughes, Amy Winehouse, Stan Getz, Greg Foat, The New Mastersounds, Ella Fitzgerald, The Vitamin String Quartet and other artists randomly selected from this playlist for improvisations.

Program Description:

The Cohort is a reimagining of Rhythmically Speaking’s annual summer multi-choreographer production. After hitting 10 years of successfully presenting the work of 7-8 mostly local choreographers and their own casts to media acclaim and sell-out crowds, we decided this past year it was time to stretch ourselves to fulfill our mission in innovative new ways. The Cohort 2019 built on our celebrated model of bringing together local choreographers and dancers to invest in staged work inspired by jazz and American social dance ideas and their sociocutural histories and innovations, while making a more significant space for visiting choreographers to share such work with our communities. This second round of the program will again support fewer choreographers making longer works than in past years, and a selected cast of 8-10 local dancers to perform them all. The choreographic submission period for The Cohort 2020 ran September 15 – October 25, 2019.



Rhythmically Speaking presents . . . The Cohort

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 15-17, 2019
Featured work by RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard with local choreographer Julie Warder and visiting choreographers Rohan Bhargava/ Rovaco Dance (New York, NY) and Pat Taylor/ JazzAntiqua (Los Angeles, CA). Company of local dancers: Nora Anderson, Doug Hooker, Erik Hunder, Sara Karimi, Erinn Liebhard, Kelli Miles, Kathleen Pender, Betsy Schaefer-Roob, Cheng Xiong. Also featured was the beatboxing of Fernando Acevedo (NY), with Lighting Design and Technical Direction by Mike Grogan and Stage Management by Sarah Salisbury. Choreographer selection panel: Brian J. Evans, Erinn Liebhard and Zoe Sealy. Dancer selection panel: Ozzy Dris, Erinn Liebhard, Judith James Ries and Julie Warder.
Press Log

Rhythmically Speaking 10/2018

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 16-18, 2018
Featured work by Gabriel Anderson & Laura Selle-Virtucio, Leila Awadallah, Melissa Clark, Brandi Coleman (Dallas, TX), Karla Grotting, Jolene Konkel, Erinn Liebhard (RS Artistic Director) and Emma Marlar
Press Log

Rhythmically Speaking 2017

Illusion Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 17-19, 2017
Featured work by Karla Grotting, O’Calla Joslyn, Erinn Liebhard (RS Artistic Director), Kaleena Miller, Laura Osterhaus, Jeffrey Peterson (PA) and Abigail Whitmore
Press Log

Rhythmically Speaking 2016

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 18-20, 2016
Featured work by Rush Benson, Rae Charles, Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner (OR), Karla Grotting, Erinn Liebhard (RS Artistic Director), Laura Selle-Virtucio and Pat Taylor/ JazzAntiqua Dance Ensemble (CA)
Press Log

Rhythmically Speaking 2015

Bedlam Lowertown, St. Paul MN
August 20-22, 2015
Featured work by Rush Benson and Brian Evans, Jennifer Glaws, Sarah Jabar, Keane Sense of Rhythm, Erinn Liebhard, Emily Oleson and Kwame Opare (West Virginia/ D.C.) and Clarence Teeters Jr. (reconstructed by Karla Grotting)
Press Log

Rhythmically Speaking 2014

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 14-16, 2014
Featured work by Michele Dunleavy, Karla Grotting, B-Boy J-Sun, Erinn Liebhard, Christine Maginnis, Joanne Spencer and Voice of Culture
Press Log

Rhythmically Speaking 2013

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 15-17, 2013
Featured work by Yung-Tsi Bolon & Laura Horn, Emily Broeker, Maura Garcia, Karla Grotting, RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard, Christine Maginnis and Darrius Strong
Press Log

2012: Rhythmically Speaking presents . . .

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 16-18, 2012
Featured work by Deborah Elias, Karla Grotting, Cythnia Gutierrez-Garner, Carrie Lande, RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard, Jennifer Mack, Whitney McClusky, J-Sun and Dancin’ Dave and Joanne Spencer
Press Log
KFAI Fresh Air Radio Feature

2011: Rhythmically Speaking presents Groovers & Makers

Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 25-27, 2011
Featured work by Emily Broeker, Jennifer Glaws, Karla Grotting, Jolene Konkel, Carrie Lande, RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard, Jeffrey Peterson, Julie Warder and Cathy Wind
Press Log

2010: Rhythmically Speaking presents Principles of Pulse

Bedlam Theater, Minneapolis MN
August 19-21, 2010
Featured work by Jennifer Glaws, Karla Grotting, Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Sarah Jabar, Ellen Keane, RS Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard, Jeffrey Peterson, Kenna Sarge and Karis Sloss
Press Log

2009: Rhythmically Speaking

Bedlam Theatre, Minneapolis MN
August 20-22, 2009
Featured work by Karla Grotting, Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Jolene Konkel, RS Co-Artistic Director Erinn Liebhard, Kaleena Miller, Karis Sloss, and RS Co-Artistic Director Heather P. Westerlund