BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance


Q&A with Company Dancer Kimberly Murry

February 21, 2017

Q. Where are you from?

A. Gosh, I’m a little bit from everywhere. I’m originally from Los Angeles, I lived in Detroit for a little while, I did high school and college in Ohio and then I lived in Chicago for a bit as well.

Q. What are some unique characteristics of the towns you grew up in?

A. I’d say each of the places I’m from are uniquely different and influenced who I was tremendously. I will say that the first place I moved by myself, like as an adult, was Chicago and there was something unique about it. It was so clean and nice, and people were still very Midwestern in a city that’s not necessarily considered that Midwestern.

Q. When did you start dancing? What’s your dance journey?

A. I started in high school, I had no dance training prior to joining my high school dance team. So I literally learned what a pirouette was, which by the way involved no technique, in a school gymnasium. And I did that for two years and I really liked it and thought I should stick it out so I took my first ballet, tap and jazz class at 16. After another two years of taking class I thought ‘I wanna do this for real’ so I applied to a bunch of schools and auditioned and just hoped for the best. I went to Ohio University, I joined their school of dance in 2009, I auditioned that winter and I got in and it was like, ‘alright, I guess you’re doing this!’

Q. That’s such an amazing story, to start so late and be able to make a career out of it.

A. Yeah, it was a lot of practicing on my own, like while my mom was making dinner I’d be over by the counter practicing tendus. I felt like I was playing catch-up, especially those last two years of high school, thinking ‘I’m really going to do this, so I really need to jump ahead.’ I didn’t take a lot of class outside of school, I was in a school-to-college program where I was able to get my dance classes to count towards my high school education. So my actual dance classes only happened between the hours of 12-3 during my junior and senior year of high school. It was a lot of self-practice.

Q. How are you enjoying dancing for Bodystories: Teresa Fellion Dance?

A. Oh I love it. It’s nice to have a voice, it’s nice to be heard, it’s nice to be able to move like myself, and have a space to codify that, to feel and to discuss it. To really be able to feel out the movement and speak about the movement.

Q. What is it like to dance in a company that is mostly comprised of women?

A. It’s always empowering, it’s always beautiful to be in a space with not only women but strong women that have an opinion, that have something to say, that feel passionate about this particular thing that we’re doing. So that is always exciting, to know that I can come into this space and be with like-minded people.

Q. How do you, as a dancer, approach translating the complex emotional and intellectual themes behind Teresa Fellion’s work? What is that process like?

A. It depends. In the beginning that process was trying to embody those words and to produce exactly what I thought she was wanting me to produce. I wanted very much to be in tune with what she was saying and what she was trying to draw out of us, as a group and as myself as a part of this group and as we’ve gone through the rehearsal process a bit more I think I’m trusting myself and the idea that what she’s saying, she wants me to interpret back out. A little less giving her what she wants, or what I think she wants and more what can I as a person give back. It’s turned into kind of a call and response, she can call it and I can respond and she can call it again or we go from there.

Q. What has the process of creating Agawam been like?

A. It’s been exciting! It’s been hard, hard in a good way. I feel like as a group we’re being challenged. Being with a new group of dancers is always a learning experience and we’ve had to really jump in and say, ‘alright! I’ve got to trust that I can throw my weight on you, cause this is what we’re doing!’ We’ve really had to dive in, it’s been a fun experience, and it’s been a learning experience too.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect of dancing Agawam?

A. It requires a lot of stamina. Right now [January 31st] we’re very movement heavy, and I think with editing the piece it will have more shape. But right now it’s very movement heavy, which is great, I love to move. But once we finally got all these pieces to kind of chunk together, I was like, ‘that’s a long 8 minutes, that’s a long 8 minutes y’all!’ I was like, ooh I need to take a spinning class after this just to get my endurance up cause this is gonna be a 20 minute piece and mama can barely make it through 8. So, yes stamina!

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of dancing Agawam?

A. When those pieces do come together, when they finally do gel and we’ve kept the integrity of all these small pieces and we’ve found a way to weave them all together. I think we just accomplished that today in rehearsal and it’s just a feeling of, hallelujah, that works.

Q. Agawam examines the post-depression working family and family life, although we may be decades removed from that time, how do you feel that idea, and the piece, can resonate today?

A. I mean I kind of think those ideas date back to the American dream. Families coming over here, immigration, huge troves of people trying to be who they are, live in that moment and find who they are in this new unabridged culture that is the American culture. I remember Teresa mentioning that she comes from an Italian family that came over during that time. You know, we’re still such a young country, we’re all within generations of being an immigrant. My culture is the American culture, but for my grandfather maybe it wasn’t necessarily that way for him, he definitely lived through a different time period than I could ever relate to.

Q. In our current political climate with so much uncertainty, what do you think the role of dance and art will be?

A. We’re gonna have to keep making and spreading the love through it, that’s so cliche and everytime I say it I think it’s cliche, but I had this really resonating moment after the election. I was in shock, and the night after my roommate and I actually collaborated on a piece that we did at Ready Freddy’s?! in Brooklyn. It was called “Is You Woke,” and it was a racially charged piece, and my roommate made this really awesome video to go along with it. It kind of dealt with my own feelings on all of this, as a black American, as someone who was confused as to why this was going on. And it was amazing to dance in this space and not be judged, to just put all this out–how I was feeling about racial tension, and immigration tension and everything else. To just be in that space and have people come up to me after and say ‘thank you.’ There were no words, you didn’t even need to put it into anything, sometimes it was just a hug. I think dance will continue to be that physical embodiment of all those things that I can’t say, or describe, those feelings that keep me up at night. Maybe it won’t change your mind, but maybe you’ll understand a little more, maybe it won’t be an argument.

Q&A with Company Dancer Jessica Stroh

February 14, 2017

Q. Where are you from and what are some unique characteristics of your hometown?

A. Ocala, Florida, it’s title is the “horse capital of the world”, it has lots of open pastures for horses and cows and there are tons of elderly people, maybe that’s why I adore old people.

Q. When did you begin dancing? What’s your dance journey?

A. Well, I was a very hyper child, so my parents thought it would be a good idea to put my energy to use. So, at the age of 3 they enrolled me in ballet and tap. After that I did gymnastics for a few years, but eventually had to make the tough decision to either do dance or do gymnastics. I chose dance. Around the age of 12 I started to realize that this hobby was more of a passion, something that I had to do, something that I wanted to learn more and more about. So I went to the University of South Florida where I attained a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Psychology. After that I studied and received scholarships with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, BODYTRAFFIC, and Repertory Dance Theater. I also received a scholarship to study abroad in Paris, France where I performed and choreographed my own work. In Paris, I met Colleen Thomas and she invited me to come to New York to collaborate and perform with her in a new work, “Her(e) Repetitive Blueprint” my senior year of college.

Q. How are you enjoying dancing for BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance?

A. I’m enjoying the freedoms and openness of Teresa’s process. I really feel like I can contribute my own opinion and own artistry into her work, and as someone who not only loves to dance, but to choreograph as well, it’s a real treat as an artist.

Q. What is it like to dance in a company that is mostly comprised of women?

A. It’s empowering! To see all of these different women with different personalities and styles of movement strengthens my own feministic qualities and creativity. There’s so much beauty in each of the women I am blessed and honored to dance with. I am thankful to stand beside such women as these.

Q. How do you, as a dancer, approach translating the complex emotional and intellectual themes behind Teresa Fellion’s work into movement?

A. Hmm, for me, different works have different processes. I’d say for Agawam it’s a bit of understanding the strong images Teresa expresses, then taking those images and relating them to my own life–like, when have I experienced something similar? How would that make me feel?– then taking those emotions and embodying them through a physical and spatial landscape. Perhaps creating an internal dialogue or narration while my physical external language is what’s “speaking” for me.

Q. What has the process of creating Agawam been like?

A. Play, give and take, improvisation into structure, silliness, trial and error, success.

Q. Agawam examines the post-depression era working family and family life.Although we may be decades removed from that time, how do you feel the piece resonates today?

A. We can all relate to struggle, hard work, and trying to hustle and bustle, especially here in NYC. They weren’t alone, and neither are we.

Q. In the research phase of Agawam Teresa looked into examples of cultural appropriation, or “cultural borrowing” in the post-depression era. In dance, movements are often appropriated from other dance forms or techniques, do you feel like this can be considered appropriation? Or is it just inspiration?

A. I think it depends on how it is done. In my opinion, appropriation occurs when there is lack of research on the dance form; and when one tries to emulate the form without knowing the reasoning or history behind the movements. Some try to copy the style and say they are doing  it, but it is performed sloppily and usually come across to those who know the technique well as mocking the dance form. For example, Kendall Jenner on pointe. Yikes. Inspiration of different cultural dance forms or techniques is a balance of knowing the history and reasoning behind the techniques along with drawing out and experimenting with the technique with respect to the original form.

Q. In our current political climate with so much uncertainty, what do you think the role of dance and art will be?

A. What a beautiful question. I believe in the power of art. Because of our current political climate, there are a lot of people who are hurting, questioning, angry, shocked, in fear, etc. Art, however, has the power to heal, to empower, to wake up people who don’t want to listen audibly, but can be impacted visually through movement. During the depression, people would come see dance to escape the realities of their world. Their suffering and pain and isolation would disappear as art transfixed them. I believe dance and art will be the catalyst of change, of a place where people can feel safe to express, empathize, and empower their own thoughts and the thoughts of those around them. Art is so important right now.

Q&A with Company Dancer Ashley Zimmerman

February 7, 2017

We sat down with our company dancers recently and had a chat. We learned about their hometowns, dance journeys, and the process of creating Agawam. First up is our chat with Ashley Zimmerman!

Q. Where are you from and what are some unique characteristics of your hometown?

A. I am from outside of Philadelphia, close to the King of Prussia area, in Pennsylvania. Well, we have the King of Prussia mall which is a huge deal for some people. It’s the biggest mall in America in terms of number of stores, and it’s the most exciting part of my hometown. [laughs]

Q. When did you begin dancing? What’s your dance journey?

A. I started when I was four years old, I started taking class at the YMCA. And then in middle school I started to get more serious, and I went to a small school close to my house. Then from there I went to college at Point Park University and got a B.A. in dance, and two years ago I moved to New York


Q. How are you enjoying dancing for Bodystories: Teresa Fellion Dance?

A. It’s great, I’m learning so much. It’s challenging—I’m not used to creating a lot of my own movement and I’m not used to being so involved in the process. Most of my experience has been, ‘here are some moves go do them,’ and Teresa instead likes to sculpt a piece rather than build a piece, or at least that’s what it feels like. So I am enjoying my time, definitely growing a lot.

Q. How do you, as a dancer, approach translating the complex emotional and intellectual themes behind Teresa Fellion’s work? What is that process like?

A. Teresa might give us a task, and you complete the task on your own, and then come together with the other dancers to clarify what your task is and to find out what works best, so in the end we can get closer to what she wants and be able to find the best example of the idea that she is going for.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect of dancing Agawam?

A. It’s a lot for my brain, a lot of small details, a lot of very particular timing and such. If someone’s off a little bit, it’s going to mess up what I’m doing next because it’s a lot of reacting to other people.

Q. What’s been the most rewarding aspect of dancing Agawam?

A. I don’t know yet! But at this point in the process, just to see how much we’ve created, and to step back and say ‘wow we have so much material,’ and we have so many ideas that now it’s just the process of combing it out—that’s exciting.

Q. Agawam explores the post-depression era working family and family life. Although we may be decades removed from that time, how do you feel the piece resonates today?

A. We starting working on movement that really resonated with that idea. I know I personally created a very grounded, aggressive foot phrase for Teresa, and that kind of related to that theme of frustration and constant work.

Q. In our current political climate with so much uncertainty about the future, what do you think the role of dance and art will be?

A. That’s hard to answer. I think dance is supposed to be a mirror on society. Like, ‘look what’s happening, you can’t see it because the everyday is getting in your way but if you just stop and look you’d notice.’ And I mean this for artistic dance. Obviously there is an entertainment aspect to dance which can help us forget, maybe, what’s happening. But as an art form, I think dance can show what’s happening. It’s another way of viewing reality that’s can be a little clearer.



September 6, 2016

Week 8 with Teresa!

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Week 8 closed out the season at Ross, and we made every minute count! These seven spirited dancers threw themselves into their studies with energy and ambition. Even though our week was one day shorter than usual, these dancers still wanted to learn and perform a third dance for the showing, in addition to all of our technical and creative exercises!

Monday, we studied hip hop, focusing on syncopation with the music and footwork. The dancers truly loved our dance, Salute! See here.

Tuesday, we focused on contemporary dance, working with texture and changes in speed, as well as floor work, and several types of turns. See here. Wednesday was our musical theatre day. We had such a wonderful time creating a swing dance remix with music from The Great Gatsby. See here. In the dance minor, we had an intimate group of three lovely dancers with diverse backgrounds in dance. We did a mix of modern and contemporary dance techniques, and created one short introduction in our showing to Rihanna’s ubiquitous song “Work,” and a longer piece including solos to “Figure Me Out.”  See here and here.

We got wild on Friday with the Lip Sync Battle. Special shout-out to the amazing dancers on team white, rock on! The dancers in the Week 8 Major and Minor worked very well as teams to create and challenge themselves with movement each day. It was great to dance with them, and we hope to see everyone again next summer!

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Leading the dance major and minor for the final week of Ross Summer Program was truly rewarding. It is bittersweet to say goodbye on the final day after witnessing the students’ growth over the past eight weeks; the friendships they make, the skills they learn, and so much more. We at BodyStories wish all of our summer dance program students the very best during their 2016/17 school year. If you’re interested in joining BodyStories for dance afterschool,  please contact or 646.662.5128 for more information. Congratulations all on a great summer!


August 22, 2016

Week 7 with Julia!

Week 7 at The Ross School was a blast! The dance major had four talented and energetic students who always tried everything and had a great time dancing. Day one we learned modern technique, including our modern dance flat backs and drop swings. The dancers also worked in partners to create duets with secret handshakes. We worked together to create a dance to Flo Rida’s “Welcome to My House.” See here.

We had lots of fun on day 2 in our hip hop class working on our sassy walks and putting together our hip hop routine! Our attitude was put to work as we danced to “Worth It,” by Fifth Dimension. See here.

Day 3 we were soft and regal in our ballet class where we learned new vocabulary and practiced our first, second, and fifth positions! The dancers were the spirit of elegance in our ballet routine, set to the ubiquitous “Hello,” by Adele.

Friday’s showing was a huge success. Adapting to a schedule conflict, two of our students transformed all of our routines from quartets to duets and they did an amazing job. All the musical theater students stopped by to watch so we had a big audience!
One of my favorite camper quotes from the week was “I wish my school had dance during the year!” That was from El who had never danced before!
It was a great week in the Hamptons all around!


August 18, 2016

Week 6 with Mia!


Week 6 consisted of a group of 7 dancers ready to learn, play, and perform. We began day 1 by introducing ourselves. We did so by dancing the spelling of our names utilizing various parts of the body.  Each dancer came up with a unique way to dance and shape the letters that make up their first name.  We were able to transition this improvisation into little solo moments in our modern/contemporary dance later that day.  

We explored several warm up phrases using modern techniques such as under-curve swings, head to tail connection, and floor work. Then we began putting together a contemporary modern routine using some of the phrases from warm up along with our name improvisations, and various spatial patterns.  The routine was to the Glee cast’s version of “Yesterday” by The Beatles.  The young ladies performed the dance with wonderful ease and awareness. See here.


On day 2, we began to explore jazz technique. Our warm up consisted of isolations, and a lot of lunges and stretches.  We went across the floor doing battement phrases and pirouettes combinations.  The jazz was tough, because of the more rigid technique, but the girls stuck with it and prevailed. We did our routine to the latest Beyonce hit “Hold Up.” It’s a fun summer jam that allowed the girls to explore their sassiness on top of executing tough jazz techniques, as well as a classic kick line! See here

On day 3, we came in feeling tired and sore.  Wednesdays are always tough.  But we swiftly pumped up the energy to start learning hip hop grooves. We discussed the origin of hip hop dance and how there is always a strong connection to music and community.  From there, we learned some eighties hip hop moves, and then moved our way into the new millennium to some of the recent hip hop crazes.  YES we did the “Whip and Nay Nay.” Then we put it all together in a routine.  See here. Our counselor Amanda had the idea to do a flash mob with the hip hop dances that other campers might know.  And we were able to perform our dance, flash mob style, during lunch break on Thursday. See here.


The remaining two days were spent going over the techniques we learned and perfecting our dances. Friday was our big performance day.  All the parents came and we also had the early childhood department come down to see our moves.  It was super fun and rewarding.

It was pretty much a consensus with all the dance campers that their favorite routine was the hip hop routine.  And speaking to each of them individually, the majority said their favorite exercise was a trust exercise we did on Wednesday, in which one partner keeps her eyes closed while the other partner guides her through the space without crashing her into the walls or another group.  We really grew as dancers and as a team throughout the week.  With two more weeks left, the dance majors are on fire!


Behind the Scenes at Ross 2016

August 8, 2016

Week 5 with Teresa!

In teaching two weeks in a row, I had a chance to really get to know the students and faculty at Ross. I feel like I learned as much about movement expression and invention in the games of “dance catch” that I played in “off” time after class, as I did in the studio. The students here really digest the tools offered to them to create their own inventions in a magical way. One student from last week is even singing “Eye of the Tiger in her Glee Club minor this week. She is obsessed and I love it!

I had the joy of leading an amazingly vibrant group of seven students Week 5, including our supportive Counselor In Training, Isabella! With this amount of energy, we kept all of the dances light and rapid.

We focused on a Jazz Dance on Day One, set to the infectious music of Jason Derulo.  Watch it [HERE!] I couldn’t help but bring back a retro theme day after our request for Eye of the Tiger last week. No live band this week, but we did an extended dance to [Groove is in the Heart] by Dee-Lite with tons of turns, jumps, and handstands. Go 90’s!

For hip hop we danced to Meghan Trainor’s “NO” in a majorly empowering way. It was great to explore some of the floorwork we had been doing in technique class, and work with the music.

During Week Five, I also had the opportunity to assist Michael Apuzzo from the Paul Taylor Dance Company in a workshop for Ross Students. Dancing with and helping to lead the high school and younger students in the circular choreography was a great way to witness my students’ growth from another perspective. Watch the dance [HERE].

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Each week at Ross brings new creative challenges. I look forward to Week Eight!


August 1, 2016

Week 4 with Teresa!


In starting my third year teaching and directing the Ross Summer Dance Program, I was looking forward to further defining the expectations and standards of our dance curriculum, and to designing classes that are exploratory, challenging, and fun for all of the dancers involved. I was also so excited to see our students who I have enjoyed getting to know over the years. They continually engage me with their depth of imagination, intelligence, and creativity!

Week Four was a group of four dedicated dancers that were an absolute delight. Our first day we focused on Jazz technique, and then created a dance to Justin Bieber’s catchy beats. It was a light and fun dance, focusing on our fancy footwork. Watch it [here]!

Our next dance technique was contemporary. The dancers embodied intentional focus, sustained movements, and partnered very well with the music. As per special request by The Ross Rock Band, we did a Throwback Dance Day and created a dance to “Eye of the Tiger.” You can see [our version] where we ate up the whole studio space, and then contained it to perform in the band room. It was such a fun experience to perform this dance in two locations, and to feel the intensity of the live music behind our Rocky-themed movements!

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During Week Four I also had the opportunity to choreograph with the dance minor students. We had a wonderful time working with one of my favorite music artists, LCD Soundsystem, appropriately named “Home.” BodyStories has been performing our newest work, HOME this year, and a piece of it followed me out here to East Hampton.


July 25, 2016

Week 3 with Geena!

As I arrived in Bridgehampton on Saturday, the song Happy with Me by Holychild started playing in my ears. I used this song last year at the Ross School for choreography and found it to be the perfect theme for my arrival.

This week we covered lyrical/modern dance, hip-hop and a [dance from Trinidad].  The students were all so excited and eager to have fun and enjoy dance!  I pushed the dancers to be more creative than ever – to put their whole body and emotions into the dance, to take risks and make up creative movements on their own.  As a reward we played lots of movement games.

We did interviews of their favorite activities: Sophia, Gabby and Matilda all loved the Cheetah Girls dance.  Watch the dance [HERE]!

Rénee’s favorite dance was You’ve Got Time.  You can certainly see their personalities come to the surface in this dance.  Watch it [HERE]!

And Mission Impossible was unanimously chosen as a favorite game – a movement game across the floor with a few curveballs!

All in all, so much fun!

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July 19, 2016

Week 2 with Monica!

This week I had a terrific group of six young students who took on Creative movement, Jazz, Contemporary, and Modern movement. Many were returning students and it was exciting to see students I had taught two years ago! Here’s how the week went–

We explored modern movement on Day 1 along with creative movement exercises and composition. Our favorite exercise was the Statue Game. The students paired up and one became the artist and the other the statue. They learned how to communicate without speaking and found creative poses! We also created duets using movement from abstractly spelling their names.

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Day 2 was Jazz day, which was their favorite. We moved through classic jazz technique including jazz walks, kicks, and leaps. I choreographed our dance to Justin Timberlake’s new song Can’t Stop the Feeling and they could not get enough of it!  Watch the video [here]!

Day 3 was our day to explore contemporary movement, stage presence, and emotions while dancing. Out improvisation for the day came from looking into how certain emotions inspire us to move in different ways. Energy, focus, and listening to the music helped us dive deeper into our contemporary dance to Adele’s Someone Like You.  Watch the video [here]!

Day 4 was more in depth modern dance techniques including floor work! We also explored mirroring and weight sharing with partners. We had so m to review for our show that we practiced all afternoon!

The students had a fabulous performance on Friday and they were so excited to share with family, friends, and fellow campers!  We also supported the theater major by watching their production of Alice and Wonderland.

That’s a wrap!