Rhythmically Speaking presents . . .

The Cohort: From Home |

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 spots available for the live show. 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. 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.


| More on the Program (edits forthcoming!) |

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 7-9 local dancers to perform them all. The show will run August 13-15 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

Meet the Choreographers of The Cohort 2020!

Visiting Choreographer: 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 Choreographer: 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 Choreographer: 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.

Choreographer Selection Panel:

  • Brian J Evans: Citizen Artist & Rhythmically Speaking Board Member
  • Erinn Liebhard: Dance Artist & Rhythmically Speaking Artistic Director
  • Zoe Sealy: Professor Emeritus – U of M Dance Program & RS Board Member

The choreographic submission period for The Cohort 2020 ran September 15 – October 25, 2019. The choreographic submission period for The Cohort 2021 is expected to run mid September to late October 2020.



Rhythmically Speaking presents . . . THE COHORT

When: August 15-17 @ 7:30pm and August 17 @ 2pm
Talk-Back: Q&A with the artists after the August 16 show
Where: The Southern Theater
Who: The Cohort (the 11th annual summer RS show) featured new and revisited choreographic works by:

Erinn Liebhard (Local Artist/ New Work – RS Artistic Director)
Julie Warder (Local Artist/ New Work)
Rohan Bhagrava (New York, NY/ Revisited Work)
Pat Taylor (Los Angeles, CA/ Revisited Work)

Press Log – featuring a great review from the Minneapolis Star Tribune!

Photo Credit: Bill Cameron
Design Credit: Jaime Willems

2019 Selection Panels:

Choreographer Selection Panel:

  • Brian J Evans: Citizen Artist & Rhythmically Speaking Board Member
  • Erinn Liebhard: Dance Artist & Rhythmically Speaking Artistic Director
  • Zoe Sealy: Professor Emeritus – U of M Dance Program & RS Board Member

Dancer Selection Panel:

  • Ozzy Dris: House Dancer & Lead, Twin Cities MN House Dance
  • Judith James Ries: Former JAZZDANCE company member & master jazz teacher
  • Julie Warder: Choreographer, The Cohort 2019

More About the 2019 Artists:

Local Choreographer: Julie Warder

Julie - Headshot

Illustrious local choreographer Julie’s dance career began with Myron Johnson at Children’s Theater and Uchawi African Dancers under Richard D. Thompson. From there a BFA in dance at U of Arts in Philly, training with Philadance and performed with LEJA Dance Theater as a company member. She also was a company member of Ballet of the Dolls. Choreographically, upon returning to the Twin Cities, her works have been seen in Laurie Carlos’ Late Night, Kinetic Kitchen, Rhythmically Speaking and several Renovate and 16 Feet choreographers evenings. Julie is so honored to be a part of this wonderful expansion in the Rhythmically Speaking world. Her new work What’d You Say will be exploration of communication accentuated in rhythm.

Visiting Choreographer: Rohan Bhargava/ Rovaco Dance Company (New York, NY)

Rohan - Headshot.png

Touring choreographer we are excited to welcome to the Twin Cities for the first time, Rohan Bhargava, is an acclaimed artist from New Delhi, India. He holds a BFA in Dance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is the Founder of New York based Rovaco Dance Company. Currently, Rohan is completing a two-year residency through CUNY Dance Initiative at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Learn more at The piece Rohan will be revisiting for The Cohort, Kool Kids 2.0, is a comical beat-box and dance collaboration, satirizing the elusive state of “coolness” as a deceptively innocuous byproduct of capitalistic power struggle.

Visiting Choreographer: Pat Taylor, MFA/ JazzAntiqua (Los Angeles, CA)

Pat - Headshot

Touring choreographer Pat Taylor, returning to the Twin Cities after a smashing success of a visit to Rhythmically Speaking in 2016, is founding artistic director/choreographer of Los Angeles-based JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble. She is the recipient of a Brody Arts Fund Choreography Fellowship; grants from Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Doolittle Foundation, California Arts Council and the Center for Cultural Innovation; and was a finalist in the Leo’s Choreography Competition (Jazz Dance World Congress). Pat teaches, choreographs, lectures and tours with JazzAntiqua across the United States and internationally, including University of California – Irvine, International Association of Blacks in Dance Conferences (Washington, DC and Denver, CO), Dance USA, and Congresso Internacional de Jazz Dance (Brazil). Learn more at The work Pat will be revisiting for The Cohort, A Love Supreme, is set to and named for the seminal jazz masterpiece by legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, and is a story of redemption that embodies choreographer Pat Taylor’s signature approach to jazz dance as a reflection of the movement in the music.

Choreographer & – Erinn Liebhard (creating a piece, performing in Julie & Pat’s casts):

Erinn is a dance artist (MFA University of Colorado Boulder, BFA University of Minnesota) making opportunities for people to experience the reflective and connective power of groove. Having grown up dancing socially at her dad’s rock band’s gigs, she discovered at a young age the exhilaration of grooving alongside others. Her artistry is guided by her history with and fondness for social dance and the vernacular forms that develop out of this practice, which has led her to work with creatives as varied as hip-hop dance theater artist Rennie Harris and Appalachian clogging company the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers. Erinn creates and presents her own choreographic work, and supports and presents new work by others through Rhythmically Speaking, the organization she co-founded and artistic directs, and she currently performs as a member of Afro-Brazilian company Contempo Physical Dance and as self-created character entertainer “Nerdette” for Saint Paul Saints Baseball’s Entertainment Team. An active educator, she is an instructor for Zenon Dance School, a teaching artist for the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts and an active conference presenter and writer.

Beatboxer – Fernando Acevedo (Rohan’s cast):

Fernando Acevedo is a beatboxer and music producer based in Queens, NY. He currently teaches music to youth, freelances, busks and participates in competitions. You can find him on social media @apparitionmuzik.

Dancer – Nora Anderson (Erinn & Julie’s casts):

Nora graduated summa cum laude from Beloit College in 2013 with degrees in dance and anthropology. She has performed for the Women of Substance series at the O’Shaughnessy, Collectivus Dance Company, Rhythmically Speaking, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Notably, she has performed work by Erinn Liebhard, Karla Grotting, Mathew Janczewski, Blake Nellis, Vanessa Voskuil, Anna Marie Shogren, and Jolene Konkel. Nora has also choreographed and produced work for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and has co-produced two of her own shows with Crissy Tolson under the name Body Group. Currently, she is a member of Painting the Room, an improv performance group, and will be pursuing a doctoral degree in physical therapy this fall.

Dancer – Doug Hooker (Erinn, Julie, Pat & Rohan’s casts):

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.

Dancer – Erik Hunder (Julie & Pat’s casts):

Erik received his BA in Dance from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. There, he trained in many different dance styles and worked with locally, nationally, and internationally renowned teachers and choreographers. Erik has performed locally with MinnesoTap, Artistry Theatres, Kaleena Miller Dance, Keane Sense of Rhythm, Collide Theatrical Dance Company, Rhythmically Speaking, and in various independent projects. Additionally, he teaches at various local dance studios and works as a character performer at Nickelodeon Universe.

Dancer – Sara Karimi (Erinn, Julie & Pat’s casts):

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.

Dancer – Kelli Miles (Julie, Pat & Rohan’s casts):

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.

Dancer – Kathleen Pender (Erinn, Julie & Pat’s casts):

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 Administrative Assistant. She was Company Manager for Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater from 2013-2019. She has performed for local choreographers Erinn Liebhard, April Sellers, and Taja Will, among others. Kathleen is passionate about community and relationships cultivated through movement exploration, education, and performance.

Dancer – Betsy Schaefer-Roob (Erinn, Pat & Rohan’s casts):

Betsy was born and raised in Elm Grove, WI. She has lived and studied in Michigan, Oregon, El Salvador, and Minnesota where she completed her self-designed degree at the University of Minnesota—a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in English, Dance, and Sustainability Studies. She currently dances with Mathew Janczewski’s ARENA DANCES, and has also worked with Karen L. Charles’ Threads Dance Project, Dance & Other Behaviors, and nationally and internationally based choreographers Lynn Andrews, Sasha Kleinplatz, Linda Lehovec, A.T. Moffett, Anne-René Petrarca, and Ray Tadio. Her own work with faux pas, a duo with Julie Marie Muskat, has been presented as part of Candy Box Dance Festival at the Southern Theater. Alongside dancing, Betsy manages the Children’s Literacy Program for Hennepin Healthcare System.

Dancer – Cheng Xiong (Pat & Rohan’s casts):

Cheng is a young professional dancer that grew up on the East side of St. Paul, Minnesota who started off as a street dancer. Xiong received his Bachelors of Art in Dance at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2014. He is now currently working with a few professional dance companies such as Black Label Movement, Strong Movement and BRKFST Dance Company. Xiong is not just a sought-after Hip-Hop/Breakdance instructor, he is also leading and helping connect communities with a passionate organization called Hmong Breakers Leadership Council.

Lighting Designer & Tech Director – Mike Grogan:

Mike Grogan is an experienced and sought-after dance lighting designer and technical director in the Twin Cities and beyond. In addition to this work, he is the Technical Coordinator for the Dance Program at the University of Minnesota. This is his seventh Rhythmically Speaking show!

Stage Manager – Sarah Salisbury:

Sarah could not imagine a summer without working on Rhythmically Speaking. When not managing dancers, Sarah is the Production Director for Haunted Basement, a freelance stage manager/technician and props designer, a pet sitter and an event coordinator for Rock What You Got.




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