Under the title TERRA NOVA, this is the third year that Rosanna Gamson has led the six consecutive weeks-long choreographic residency for young or inspiring choreographers to receive constructive criticism for their works-in-progress. These artists were in excellent and experienced hands as Gamson is the Founder and Artistic Director of Rosanna Gamson/World Wide, a Los Angeles based company that has toured nationally and internationally since 2000. Gamson is also on the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance faculty at California Institute of the Arts Dance Department. It is important to note that TERRA NOVA is made possible through Gamson’s company partnership with MiModa Studio and Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles, along with the support of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Each year notable arts professionals are invited to attend individual sessions during which they provide additional insight and feedback. The residency culminates in a performance and conversation with the public, including “key community dance stakeholders” and the work is professionally documented on video. Dancer, actor, educator and performer Marissa Moses said of her experience in TERRA NOVA 2016, “Working with Rosanna Gamson during the Terra Nova Choreographic Residency was just the artistic kick in the pants that I needed! For two years I have been journaling, considering, and envisioning a solo project inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.” 

Marissa Moses – Homegrown@MiModa – Photo by Clarence Alford

The choreographers who participated in the first TERRA NOVA experience were Julianna Bulgarelli, Laura Karlin, Marissa Moses, “Dunn-Korpela, Brigette M”, Grace Burdick, Jane Hamor, Carol Katz, and Melani De Guzman. The professional special guests who provided constructive and critical feedback were Vic Marks, Renae Niles, Ann Haskins, and Ben Johnson.

In 2017, I had the honor of being one of the artists to participate as a panelist to provide my professional insight and feedback. The other special guests who joined me at that presentation were George Lugg, Susan Josephs, and Ann Carlson; and the choreographers participating in the workshop were Julianna Bulgarelli, Carolyn Ellis, Mallory Fabian, Shenandoah Harris, Belle Jessen, Adam Kerbel, Juli Kim, Alex Mathews, and Annalee Traylor. Later in 2017, I reviewed the very powerful work Daedalus’ Daughter at the Bootleg Theater by 2016 participant Carol Katz. It was very clear that Katz’s six weeks involvement with TERRA NOVA served her, and those who attended the performances of Daedalus’ Daughter, quite well.

Vannia Ibarguen – Homegrown@MiModa – TERRA NOVA – Photo by Clarence Alford

This past weekend, I attended the performance of TERRA NOVA presented by DRC’s Homegrown@Mimoda. I went as an observer and someone interested in who among the six participants might be Los Angeles’ next inspiring or breakout choreographer(s). Some were there for a second time; Mallory Fabian, Adam Kerbel, and Marissa Moses. It was the first time for Vannia Ibarguen, Andrew Pearson, and Cody Brunelle-Potter. Along with Gamson, the professional special guests included Bridgett Dunn-Korpela, Artistic Director of B. Dunn Movement, and Ben Johnson, Performing Arts Division Director, Department of Cultural Affairs Los Angeles. Looking around the audience, I also recognized several prominent LA dance artists and choreographers who provided invaluable feedback to the choreographers.

The evening was structured around an open discussion period after two works were presented. The questions asked of the choreographers were intelligent and, at times, challenging. Each artist seemed genuinely appreciative of the information that they were receiving and provided concrete responses as to why they created the work, chose the music they did and/or presented their work in the configuration in which we observed it. For example, Andrew Pearson and Marissa Moses chose to present their work with the audience seated in 2 lined up rows of chairs facing each other. This created a hallway-like stage, or as one observer said, suggested a fashion show runway . This worked for some and others it presented a challenge to see the movement clearly.

Rosanna Gamson, and everyone in sustaining TERRA NOVA, have provided an invaluable learning opportunity in a completely safe environment for these dance artists. Now, it is up to them to accept or reject the feedback that they received from the professional and non-professional community. What these six artists clearly expressed was that they knew that not all young choreographers get this form of backing.

TERRA NOVA – Photo courtesy of DRC

What is important about TERRA NOVA is the artistic growth that these participating choreographers went through over the six weeks period of presenting their work to their peers and to professionals from their chosen field. I recognized several of this year’s choreographers: Cody Brunelle-Potter, Mallory Fabian and Andrew Pearson from seeing them onstage and reviewing their work for LA Dance Chronicle. Rosanna Gamson and the DRC are providing a great service to Los Angeles dance artists with this creative opportunity and I look forward to TERRA NOVA 2019.

For more information on Rosanna Gamson/World Wide, Click here.

For information about the Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles, click here.