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EEE Company Profile: Haley Jensen

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

When did you start dancing: I was put into community classes when I was very young and stopped going because I hated wearing tights, Hah! It wasn't until I was 10 when I started taking classes seriously at Youth Dance Ensemble in Burnsville and at Apple Valley High school and have not stopped dancing since! 

College Attended/Degree: I graduated from University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 2015 with a BFA in dance! 

Number of years with EEE: This will be my second season with EEE!! 

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs? When I am not rehearsing with EEE you will find me doing a lot of different jobs. Behind the front desk at Bierbrauer Chiropractic, Sales associate at Athleta, sitting on the Board of Directors at Youth Dance Ensemble, Dance Liaison Artist for the Modern Dance Project through YDE and district 191, and last but not least occasional dog sitter! 

What do you love about being an EEE dancer? I absolutely adore the family that is EEE and how encouraging and supportive all of the dancers are to each other. It is never a competition when we are in rehearsal or performance mode, just constant support and positive professional energy. 

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you? For our upcoming show we have 7 different choreographers so we have various stylistic choices and pieces of dance. Right now I am really learning and focusing on the specificity of each different piece. Specificity in the movement but also in character and intention in some pieces. Having a strong modern dance background, I have had lot of experience with attaching on my own personal qualities to choreography in past dances, so I find myself being challenged (in a good way!) this season when choreographers are looking for precision and counts and rhythms. This is a wonderful quality to have because it aids in being a very diverse performer and I love being able to research this every rehearsal with all of these smart beautiful jazz dancers! 

Random/fun fact about yourself: I have a love and obsession with sharks! 

Get to Know EEE First JazzView Choreographers: Crystal Secor

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Photo by: Bill Cameron; EEE's "The Trio"

Photo by: Bill Cameron; EEE's "The Trio"

Crystal Secor is a 2008 graduate of the University of MN where she received her BFA in dance.  While studying at the U of MN she had the opportunity to work with Guest Artists Ananya Chatterjae, Bebe Miller, Sardono Kusumo, as well as local artists Jeffery Peterson and Karen Charles of the Threads Dance Project.  Prior to her studies at the U of MN, Crystal completed a BS in Kinesiology from the University of WI, Eau Claire. While at UWEC she participated in the Concert Dance Company, a student organized dance group that presented original student  choreography and participated in ACDFA.  She is a current member of Eclectic Edge Ensemble and has been a member since 2009.  She is also a member of AMP (Alternative Motion Project) and is in her third season of performances with the company.  When she's not rehearsing she teaches tap, jazz and ballet at the studio where she grew up dancing as a Senior Competition Assistant.  She most recently joined the faculty as SPCPA teaching jazz technique to the 11th-12th grade students.  In the past she has been a part of the Lux Winterguard for the 2014-2015 season, an independent color guard which provides educational and performance opportunities in the art of color guard. Crystal would like to thank her husband and family for all their continued support for all these years!

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 Photo by: Calabay Productions; EEE's "The Trio"

Photo by: Calabay Productions; EEE's "The Trio"

Title of the Piece is TBD: I’ll be honest, heading into this process I didn’t have a particular intention or inspiration for this piece.  I was mostly nervous about the thought of creating a concert dance work, something I hadn’t had practice in since college.  It was, as they say, like riding a bike.  Once I was in the space, with the dancers, creating and watching them explore the movement it was just like old times!

Now getting to the nitty gritty - what was my inspiration for this work? Well we can all agree it was a tiresome, unnerving, and stressful election season.  Once the day had come and past, I was able to reflect on my experience in those 24 hours.  Who I was with, what I was seeing and hearing leading up to that day, the warm comforting embraces from my close family of artists, and the emotional rollercoaster to follow.  I sat down and wrote out my narrative of those experiences, and tried to portray the feelings of community, the idea of support for one another, and though we may feel bombarded by the thoughts of others, we can rise above and look ahead.  I was also inspired by an article I found in the NYTimes following the election in which artists submitted artwork based on their feelings post-election.  I found one picture that particularly grabbed me and was able to use the imagery as inspiration for a quartet.  As a dancer I found it comforting to be able to create this work and discuss with the dancers our experiences. It was therapeutic and cathartic to be able to create this piece.  It reminds of a quote I recently read by the late Carrie Fisher “Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”

Photo by: Bill Cameron; EEE's "Waiting for Love"

Photo by: Bill Cameron; EEE's "Waiting for Love"

Description of choreographic process - My process began with improvisation to a few pieces of music.  I filmed myself so I was able to then solidify the movements I felt worked best and filPhoto by: Bill Cameron; EEE's "The Trio"ter out those that did not.  I came into the studio with the dancers and taught the main phrase work material, and then had the dancers come up with their own movement based on the following two sentences (1) I am most afraid of _______ (2) I am most joyous when __________.  Between these two creation processes and some other tasks I gave the dancers, the piece started to unfold.

Experience stepping out of the company and working with EEE dancers -My experience stepping out of the company and into a choreographic role was absolutely humbling.  It helped me rediscover and appreciate the unique qualities of each company member, something I didn’t always get to see dancing alongside them.  Their feedback and discussions helped focus and guide the direction of the piece and in the end it wasn’t something I alone created - it was truly a collaboration.  I feel grateful to the dancers and to Karis for opening up the space to create, and for trusting and believing in me when I was uncertain.  Thank you to my beautiful cast, may we continue to express those words and feelings that are hard to say

Photo by: Calabay Productions EEE's "And Then There Was..."

Photo by: Calabay Productions EEE's "And Then There Was..."

EEE First JazzView
March 17th-19th, 2017 @ JSB TEK BOX
JSB TEK BOX; The Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts
528 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 5540

Purchase Tickets at:

EEE Company Profile: Rachel Horner

Eclectic Edge Ensemble


When did you start dancing? Started dance at 4! At the Waconia performing arts center

College Attended/Degree: U of MN BA Dance

Number of years with EEE: First year EEE

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs? Dance instructor at Waconia dance arts, celebrate dance academy, freelance musical choreographer western suburbs, children's pastor, freelance performer, blog writer!

What do you love about being an EEE dancer? Positive joyful environment! I feel respected and cherished and heard! It's a beautiful community of dancers who deeply care about not only the work but those around them. Love that it's jazz!!! There are flowing magical moments and also sharp crazy ones!

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you? Inspiring me right now is the art of saying no. To say yes to things I want to do and no to those that wouldn't be a good fit and would simply be too much for me to handle healthily. I'm trying to not stretch myself too thin so that I can fully be present in my jobs and in my life. With less things going on, I'm finding that I can pour out more love and more joy as I work which results in getting to enjoy my students and my colleagues instead of simply ploughing through a hectic schedule from on event to another. It has made me love to live my life and that's a precious gift to have in any season is life.

Random/fun fact about yourself: I love to travel places with only a backpack!

What music are you moving and grooving to right now: I'm loving the trolls soundtrack for using to teach my jazz and hip hop classes! dorky I know but there are some good jams on that! 

EEE Company Profile: Emily Magnuson

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Photo credit: Dan Norman

Photo credit: Dan Norman

When did you start dancing: When I was 3 years old.

College Attended/Degree: Minnesota State University, Mankato.  BFA in Dance and a minor in Business Administration

Number of years with EEE:  A little over a year!  I joined as an apprentice in the fall of 2015.

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs? I teach dance at a couple different studios and work at a bank.

What do you love about being an EEE dancer? I love the community feeling in EEE!  I've felt extremely welcome since day one.  It’s an amazing group of people that are inspiring as people and dancers.  I love getting to dance with them every week.

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you? All the company members inspire me!  They keep me excited to dance and to teach.  They provide an amazing example of how to balance many things in life while still being able to do what you love.

What music are you moving and grooving to right now? Anything Sia!  I love dancing to her music.

EEE Company Profile: Mallory Dykema

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Photo by Bill Cameron from "Lost" EEE Twelve

Photo by Bill Cameron from "Lost" EEE Twelve

When did you start dancing: I began formal dance training when I was in 6th grade- a lot later than many. However, I was born into a family where creative expression was a way of life in our home. I was used to expressing myself through music, stories, and art so when I began ballet class at eleven- it made sense to me. A few years in and I was in class 5-6 days a week. I grew up with such a rich training and began some of my deepest friendships- such wonderful memories! 

College Attended/Degree: University of Minnesota // BFA Dance

Number of years with EEE: Since winter of 2007! 9 years!

Photo by Bill Cameron from "Waiting for Love" First Nights

Photo by Bill Cameron from "Waiting for Love" First Nights

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs? I'm a mama of three, so that's the main gig now! I used to teach dance, choreograph musicals, direct shows, and have my own freelance makeup biz. When my second baby came, I realized that I can't do everything and I let go of some things in my schedule. When my third baby came, I realized I can't do anything!--- besides mothering my precious babies of course. oh and I homeschool my oldest!

What do you love about being an EEE dancer? There's A LOT to love, here's a few things:

Karis is a special type of artistic director. She really sees us- all aspects of who we are and desires to highlight and nurture the uniqueness in all of us. She treats us like fellow artists and values our voice. Karis cares about our lives beyond dance. 

The stories. I love to perform characters and tell stories- EEE has given me so many opportunities to dance stories. 

Photo by Bill Cameron from "Foot Flight by Night" -preview

Photo by Bill Cameron from "Foot Flight by Night" -preview

The other dancers! They're talented and committed, focused and excellent. Also, they're wonderful people and my friends. The rehearsal environment is very familial. 

The ability to continue performing after becoming a mother times three. Karis, a mother herself, is so encouraging and understanding of motherhood and its demands. She keeps involving mama dancers which is so special and important and meaningful to me!

Photo by Calabay Productions "The Trio"

Photo by Calabay Productions "The Trio"

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you?  My body has gone through three pregnancies, three recoveries. After my third sweet boy, I've had less time/energy for dancing which means that my body doesn't feel like the dancing body it once was. Sometimes I wonder if I can still call myself a "dancer"- which alludes to how loaded that title has been for me. Then I think what if being a "dancer" simply means devoting oneself to the exploration of movement and loving that. Because in some ways, I love exploring movement more now than I did when I lived my life in the studio. I have more perspective and freedom than I did at 21 (thank God). So I'm learning to accept the title of "dancer" with the freedom to acknowledge that even though I dance less, I'm not less of a dancer.

Photo by Calabay Productions "Waiting for Love" from DreamScape

Photo by Calabay Productions "Waiting for Love" from DreamScape

Random/fun fact about yourself: My favorite color is leopard print. 

What music are you moving and grooving to right now: CHRISTMAS MUSIC 24/7 (until 12/26)

Get to know EEE's "First JazzView" Guest Choreographers

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner is a teaching specialist and creative practitioner in the areas of both contemporary modern dance and American concert jazz technique.  Gutierrez-Garner received her B.F.A. Summa Cum Laude at the University of Minnesota, and her M.F.A. as an Advanced Opportunity Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. She has served as the Choreographer in Residence for the Minnesota Dance Theater, under the direction of Lise Houlton, and is a four- time winner of the Arizona Choreography Competition’s Professional Division.  Original works by Gutierrez-Garner have been commissioned by numerous colleges and universities across the U.S. including Kent State University, University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, Gustavus Adolphus College, University of Oregon, University of Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee State University, as well as by professional companies including the Minnesota Dance Theater, Zenon Dance Company and JazzAntiqua. She has twice been invited to present work at the American College Dance Association’s National Conference. Her work has been produced across the U.S in Minneapolis, MN (including the Southern Theater, the Fitzgerald Theater, the Walker Art Center, the O'Shaugnessey Theater, the Guthrie Lab), several Arizona venues (including the Herberger Theater, the Orpheum Theater, Tempe Center for the Arts and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts), New York City's Miller Theater, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Gutierrez-Garner’s work has seen support from organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Walker Art Center, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She has taught on the dance faculties of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and Gustavus Adolphus College, among others, as well as the prestigious Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine.  She currently serves on the faculty of Western Oregon University.

Work Description:
"All Together Now" is a jazz group work set to the sounds of French jazz music maker St. Germain. Inspired by past and present-day demonstrations of solidarity against oppression and violence world wide, "All Together Now" explores and celebrates the structures that bind us together and ignite power for change.

Experience with EEE:
Last year I decided I wanted to to submit my work "All Together Now"  for the 2016 Rhythmically Speaking series. I have presented in this series before, and always find it so rewarding and inspiring to be in the company of other rhythm based artists. Having spent much of my early years as a choreographer in the Twin Cities, it is such a gift to return to this rich community of dance artists.  The challenge, however, is that I am now based in Oregon, a long way from MN.  I decided to reach out to Karis, who I had known since our college days at the University of Minnesota, to see if this might be a collaborative project she might be interested in for EEE.  Thankfully she was.  This resulted in a deeply rewarding experience of setting "All Together Now" on several members of Eclectic Edge Ensemble, as well as other prominent members of the Twin Cities Dance Community.  Time was of the essence, and the fact that I was able to remount the work so quickly, in three rehearsals, is a testament to the incredible talent and artistry of Karis and EEE.  The dancers absorbed the structural complexities of the choreography and dove deep into the powerful themes of the work.  When they performed it a few weeks later, it was like they had been dancing this piece for much longer, embedding the steps with their personal nuance and artistry.  They did such an incredible job in fact, that I was invited to set the work on JazzAntiqua, the L.A. based company that was also a part of Rhythmically Speaking.  I know this was a direct result of how the Eclectic Edge artists brought the work to a new level of powerful expression.  I made "All Together Now"  a few years ago, having been inspired by the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma, the uprising of Black Lives Matter, and the powerful protests against violence world wide.  But even today, this piece continues to hold space for victims of oppression and gives voice to those who oppose it.  I am so pleased to be sharing "All Together Now" once again in the Twin Cities and grateful that EEE will be the couriers of my work.

"All Together Now" by Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, produced on the RS 2016 show. Photo by V. Paul Virtucio

"All Together Now" by Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, produced on the RS 2016 show. Photo by V. Paul Virtucio

EEE's First JazzView at The TEK BOX; The Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts

528 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN55403

Show dates & times:  

Fri • 7:30pm | March 17
Sat • 2pm & 7:30pm | March 18
Sun • 2pm | March 19

Get to know EEE's "First JazzView" Guest Choreographers

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Kyle Weiler is a dancer, actor, singer and a recent graduate of The Juilliard School. He has danced the works of José Limon, Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Kyle Abraham, Camille A Brown, Brian Brooks. Throughout his education he performed at NY City Center, BAM Fisher, and in the Chicago Dancing Festival. Recent musical credits include: Dame Yankees (Ordway) and Mamma Mia & Dear Edwina (Theatre Aspen). Kyle taught and performed in Arusha, Tanzania while participating in Arts Powers Arusha: a student initiated, arts outreach exchange in Arusha, Tanzania. Back home in Minnesota, he co-created and original teen cabaret for Hennepin Theatre Trust, and assistant directed/choreographed Bare: The Pop Opera at Minneapolis Children’s Theatre. He is a founding member of the Arts Fusion Initiative, a diverse group of artists who create unique, interdisciplinary performances inspired by American poets. His choreography has been showcase at NY Jazz Choreography Inc. and in Juilliard’s Choreographic Honors. For the next 15 months, Kyle will be adventuring around Europe and Asia, playing Diesel in the centennial tour of West Side Story. Many thanks to EEE for keeping jazz dance alive in the Twin Cities!

Inspiration for Duke Juke

I spend this summer living and performing in Aspen, Colorado. For a portion of my time there, I was choreographing a musical for the advanced students at Theatre Aspen's Summer School. On one of my mornings off, I went to see the school's junior production of Bye Bye Birdie. The cast was made up of (what looked like) hundreds of tiny little girls in huge poodle skirts, and little men with greased hair. The girls spent most of the production screaming, and chasing after one tiny little boy in a black leather jacket. I had never seen anything so endearing and hilarious. The sight was so odd, sweet, comical, chaotic, and full of intense effort. Funnily enough, that image became my main inspiration for the piece. Additionally, I have always loved Duke Ellington's music. I explored creating to his famous compositions last spring and wanted another opportunity to dive deeper into his iconic recordings. 


My choreographic process with the EEE dancers was fast and furious. I was in the studio with them for only four days. I must have been inspired by how quick the rehearsal process was because the choreography ended up being just as speedy. I was so fortunate that the dancers were so willing to tackle any challenge I presented them. They were vulnerable enough to be silly, giddy, and stupid at times. Each one of them displayed an incredible work ethic from the beginning to end. I purposefully came into the rehearsal room with lots of ideas, but no set plan. I wanted to remain open as much as possible. Not ever working with the dancers before, I didn't want to come in and set something without understanding their movement quality first. I wanted to create the piece with them rather than for them. That is always a challenge for me because I feel "naked," standing in the front of room knowing I don't have the answers. I'm much more drawn to a rehearsal room that is filled with "I'm not sure, but what if..."

From the very beginning, the EEE dancers were incredibly open, receptive, enthusiastic and eager. They were the sweetest people I have ever worked with. It was a joy working alongside them in the studio. Plus... we had cutest babies in the world hanging out in the corner while we created. What's not to love!

You can catch Kyle's Duke Juke in EEE's First JazzView

The TEK BOX; The Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts

528 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN55403

Show dates & times:  

Fri • 7:30pm | March 17
Sat • 2pm & 7:30pm | March 18
Sun • 2pm | March 19

Happy Thanksgiving from EEE!

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays! A time to be near your loved ones and feel gratitude for everything you have in your life. Eclectic Edge Ensemble has many things to be thankful for this year! First of all, we are truly thankful for our supporters! Cheers to those that have been a part of our audience during the past 13 seasons! Thank you for supporting us by coming to our shows, taking our classes and helping us raise funds. We are also very grateful for our board members who help guide the vision of our company- thank you for your continued time, support, and wisdom!

Secondly, we are thankful for our incredible dancers and collaborators, our tech and design staff, including Julia Carlis who has been designing the majority of Karis’ shows since 1999 (yes you read that right!) as well as our rehearsal space at Ballare Teatro Performing Arts Center! Without these elements we wouldn't be able to continue the work we do.  Eclectic Edge Ensemble is a family of dancers and musicians that create, imagine, and restage dance pieces. We couldn't do anything without the people involved and we are grateful for their creativity, artistry, and expertise!


Third, we are thankful for the opportunity and ability to share our passion and love for dance in the Twin Cities. Our talented artists and teachers love to pour their knowledge into the community. With that said- we are very excited about the future of our outreach program! 

Finally, EEE's bright future compels us give thanks! As we look ahead, we are enthusiastic about all that we have planned. We approach this upcoming performance season with renewed energy to keep jazz and rhythm based dances alive in the Twin Cities. Thank you to all who have supported us, past and present, and we hope you will continue by attending this seasons performances.

From the bottom of all of our hearts, Happy Thanksgiving!

EEE's 14th Season Starts NOW....

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

And We Are Back! Eclectic Edge Ensemble is kicking off their 14th Season!

I am so thrilled to be back with EEE as we dive into our 2016-2017 season. In late August I gave birth to our beautiful daughter Ophelia May! I have cherished being able to take some quality time off to spend with her and our 2 year old Nola. One of EEE’s goals is to give a place for our dancing mamas to keep on rehearsing, teaching and performing. Right now there are over 10 babies that come in and out of EEE’s rehearsals. I am so blessed to find a way to enjoy being a Mama and continue to work, push and pursue my dreams with EEE!

In September, while I was on maternity leave, the EEE dancers had an incredible opportunity to work with our first guest choreographer Kyle Weiler! I first met Kyle when he was a student in one of EEE summer Jazz Intensives. Now he has graduated from Julliard and creating and performing around the world! His work will be performed at EEE’s winter show First JazzView.

Eclectic Edge Ensemble is working on two productions this season. EEE will produce for the first time March 17th-19th, 2017 at The TEK Box with a show entitled EEE First JazzView. This show features both established and emerging rhythm based choreographers including EEE’s, very own Crystal Secor & Kayla Schiltgen. Other choreographers include Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Kyle Weiler, Kaleena Miller & Jeremy Bensussan.

Second, in July, EEE will premier the full production of Foot Flight by Night -  EEE’s take on A Midsummer’s Night Dream July 20th-23rd, 2017 at The Lab Theater. Our preview of Foot Flight by Night performed to rave reviews at The Southern Theater. You do not want to miss this one either! A story filled with magic, mystery, betrayal, and...a frog!

It is also GIVING time and we really hope you will include Eclectic Edge Ensemble in your end of year giving! We have a couple of ways you can give to EEE in November. First with GiveMN’s GIVE TO THE MAX on-line giving day! This year's Give to the Max day is happening Thursday November 17th, 2016. This annual day of giving is an easy way for donors to provide financial support to their favorite non-profits throughout the state of Minnesota. Eclectic Edge Ensemble is once again participating as a charitable organization – and our goal is to raise $4,000.00 and to achieve that we need your help!

Visit our GiveMN page here to make a contribution!

Looking for another way to donate to Eclectic Edge Ensemble?  Join us for our LuLaRoe Fundraising Event! If you haven't already fallen in love with this brand, you're about to! LuLaRoe will donate $2-$3 for every item purchased to Eclectic Edge Ensemble. So let's shop 'til we drop!

Can't join us in person? While LuLaRoe is meant to be touched, we understand if you can't make it to the boutique. Emily our consultant has decided to dedicate her online sale on Tuesday, November 22 as an EEE fundraiser as well. Join her group at

So we are back! Check back often as I, dancers and members of the EEE Arts Advisory board and guest writers will be creating blogs about our experiences. CHEERS to a FABULOUS SEASON!

EEE Company Profile:

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Heather Annis

College Attended/Degree: I attended the University of Minnesota, and received a BFA in dance.

Number of years with EEE: I have been dancing with EEE for 7 years!

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs? 

I teach dance at Ballare Teatro Performing Arts Center, and take care of my beautiful daughter Felicity.

What do you love about being an EEE dancer? I love the family we are, and the beautiful friendships I've made. Karis and EEE create such a safe and loving environment. It allows me as an artist and dancer to feel confident and creative. I also really love jazz dance!

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you? Right now we are in show week, so I'm really concentrated on stamina and performance quality! There are so many great characters in this show, and it is fun to figure out how they can come to life.

Random/fun fact about yourself: One of my favorite things to do is go vintage/antique shopping! I love mixing old and new pieces throughout our house!

Snow Bound! Musicians:

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Meet a couple of our collaborators! 

Snow Bound! A Journey from Autumn to Spring's soundscape features original music from four very talented musicians: Richard Sloss, Brian Erickson, Nathaniel Kling and Warren Park. In today's post you'll hear from the latter two musicians- a little about their process in creating their pieces of music for Snow Bound!

Nathaniel Kling

How many pieces did you compose for Snow Bound and on what instrument?: One guitar solo for Snowbound. This is my fourth composition for EEE (cello and upright bass compositions previously).

Photo from 2014's "Dreamscape"

Photo from 2014's "Dreamscape"

What message/feeling/emotion did your piece need to convey?: isolation during winter months

How did you evoke the message through your piece of music?: My piece has a lot of space. The dancers are often left alone with silence. The melodies and phrases are intended to evoke the various emotions one feels while alone. These can be feelings of melancholy and loneliness but also ones of peace and contentment. 

What was your collaboration with EEE Artistic Director Karis like?: I really enjoy collaborating with Karis. She often provides the title of the segment (e.g. "Isolation") and then allows me do whatever I want with it musically. There is much creative freedom.

Warren Park

photo credit: Mischa

photo credit: Mischa

Instrument you compose for/play:    I play piano, and several of my original pieces for Snow Bound! use recordings I made on my grand piano at home. Many of the other pieces I wrote for the show are recorded from the computer, using sampled sounds from a great collection of real orchestral instruments called the Garritan Personal Orchestra.

How many pieces did you compose for Snow Bound? Somewhere around a quarter of the pieces of music used in Snow Bound! are my own compositions. At least a dozen of them--maybe more.

Tell me something about the process of creating music for Snow Bound!…   

Karis and Laura have most of the stage action planned out ahead of time, and they ask me to write music for specific purposes, like a leaf falling, wispy snow, the snow globe turning magic, a dance that represents the magic of winter itself, the appearance of the Northern Lights, and so on. Much of the time they leave up to me what the music should sound like, using the broadest of suggestions. One interesting challenge they gave me a couple of months ago was for the section where two women each has her own creation she is bringing to the world. All the guidance they gave me about what to write was " each creation has its own distinct personality." No suggestions about what those personalities might be like. I appreciated the trust they had in me to produce something they could take off with, once the music was written. I enjoy being allowed to imbue the initial personalities into these creations through the music itself, and then hand it all off to them to invent how those distinct personalities are interpreted and manifested on stage. My own art is enhanced and expanded by the art they create in other art forms, through other methods. This is a great way to collaborate!

Make sure you make it to Snow Bound! March 18-20 to enjoy these original compositions! 

EEE Company Profile:

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Sarah Johnson

Photo Credit: B. Photography

Photo Credit: B. Photography

College Attended/Degree: BA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

Number of years with EEE: This is my second year

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs?  Director of Celebrate! Dance academy, adjunct NCU, freelance musical theatre choreographer at various high schools throughout the cities, company member with AMP 

What do you love about being an EEE dancer: I love the family at EEE.  Everyone is so encouraging and it is beautiful to share a common goal and walk through life together in and outside of the studio. I always leave rehearsals feeling refreshed, inspired, and full of joy!   The work is inspiring and meaningful and the family of dancers is unbeatable! 

As a dancer, whats something that you're learning/inspiring you right now? Something inspiring me is music! I love finding new music and finding fresh works always inspires me as a mover. I have also been really interested in musical structure, composition, and finding new music I normally wouldn't choose to use in choreography or in class.  How does dance reflect or contrast music? How am I influenced by music or is the dance influenced by music choice? 

Fun fact about yourself: Sarah loves to travel and has danced overseas in Mexico, Costa Rica, India, and China. 

Photo Credit: Bill Cameron

Photo Credit: Bill Cameron

Meet Mad Munchkin Productions!

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

EEE's Snow Bound Collaborators!

Mad Munchkin Productions was co-founded in 2005 by Laura Wilhelm and Alan Pagel, with a mission to collaboratively create theatrical works of imagination and imagery that touch the humanity, humility, and humor in all.  The company prides itself on creating collaboratively and providing an avenue for artists to express their visual musing in a theatrical format.  Puppetry is often a main medium of MMP shows, but mask, clowning, music, and plain old acting all find their way into the productions which are all scripts written by the company members or collaboratively created in the rehearsal process.  

Laura Wilhelm has an MFA in Directing from the University of Memphis, TN and has been creating and directing works of puppetry for 18 years, 11 of which have been in the Twin Cities. She works for small and large theaters in the area such as The Guthrie, CTC, Mixed Blood, Theatre Unbound, serves as Propsmaster for the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, and is co-director of Technical Tools of the Trade, a training program for technical skills in the performing arts. Alan has been working in the Twin Cities as a theater technician and carpenter, for the the past 14 years. He is currently Associate Technical Director for Stages Theater in Hopkins, and continues to freelance as a scenic and sound designer.  

Laura first conceived of Snow Bound! while in Memphis, TN getting her Master's Degree. "I actually proposed it as my Master's thesis project. There was a dance department there I could work with." Though, in the end, she changed her mind. She recalls, "Memphians just would not have really understood the journey- they have never lived through a winter like we do in Minnesota!" She kept the project her back pocket for someday. That someday came when she saw her first Eclectic Edge Ensemble show. " I knew right way that EEE was a great fit. The theatrical work that Karis was creating was the kind of storytelling that would flow right in with what I was hoping to create. I was thrilled when I pitched to project to Karis and she said yes! Five years later, I am still thrilled and so proud of the work we are making together with this remount!"

Snow Bound! A Journey from Autumn to Spring

March 18-20 at The Lab Theater

Grounding, Gravity and the Groove

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

By Karla Grotting

Jazz music has been around for over 100 years, beginning as a fusion of its root forms: the blues, black spirituals and ragtime.  The seed, of course, is African; planted in harsh American soil and the experience of African captives and their descendants.  Jazz tells the story of race in America and jazz retains many African elements that survive in the form.

Jazz was born in America and could have only been born in America because of the condition of both slavery and of freed people of color.  In America, African musical elements meet European musical ideas and the pot stirs.  When New Orleans musician, Buddy Bolden begins to play the sound and phrasing of the black spirituals on his military marching band trumpet, leftover from the Civil War, the jazz is born. His sound contains the blues tuning and the rhythmic syncopation of Africa, all in the sound of his European instrument.

Jazz dance must look to jazz music and jazz musicians to understand how to dance to it, to reflect it, to find its depth and its facility for communication.  In the same way, jazz dance looks to its African dance roots to find its stance, its buoyancy, the Moye (the circular energy going into and pulling out of the floor) and the ability to hold a sense of rhythm and groove in multiple parts of the body. 

In European forms, like ballet, the legs, spine and arms do all the talking. In jazz dance, as in African dance, the expression is much more democratic, holding rhythms in the head, shoulders, rib cage, hips, feet and hands. Ballet ideals keep an upright spine with the chest lifted, striving for weightless and perfection of line, whereas jazz gives into gravity, feeling the buoyancy of the weighted pelvis cycling energy into and back out of the floor.

Jazz dancers strive to feel grounded; feeling a relaxation in the legs that allows the foot pushing into the floor to communicate with the pelvis and drive the dancer like a low riding sports car, agile, responsive and able to change direction quickly and freely.

It all comes together in jazz. The grounding, the sense of gravity and the ability to hold the groove in many parts of the body, like a drummer using all parts of his kit- the bass drum, the snare, the tom, the hi-hat, the cymbal. Jazz dancers thrive on jazz music and become like jazz musicians themselves as they deepen their understanding, articulation and commitment to the jazz way.

Snow Bound!

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Youth Poetry Contest

We are seeking budding young poets to participate in a Winter Poetry Contest in coordination with our March performance of Snow Bound! A Journey from Autumn to Spring (running March 18-20, 2016 at the Lab Theater in Minneapolis). 


Submissions can be any style of poetry (limerick, haiku, free form, etc.) winter-themed and MUST be original work. Submissions must include the poet’s name, age (18 or under), mailing address and phone number. Entries may be submitted either

by mail:           Eclectic Edge Ensemble

2035 Florida Ave So.

Saint Louis Park, MN 55426 

or by e-mail:


Winners will read or have their poems read to the audience at the beginning of one of our Snow Bound! Performances in March and receive two (2) free tickets to the selected show. All entries will be displayed in the lobby of the Lab Theater throughout the run of our show.  The Snow Bound! performances run:

·         Friday, March 18th @ 12:30pm (special schools-only show, details below!)          and 7:30pm

·         Saturday, March 19th @ 2:00pm and 7:00pm

·         Sunday, March 20th @ 2:00pm


We will begin accepting entries on Monday, January 25th. All entries must be submitted by Friday, February 19th. Winners will be notified by Friday, March 4th.

Additionally, there is a special opportunity for classrooms to see our show!

Snow Bound! A Journey from Autumn to Spring

SCHOOLS ONLY SHOW: Friday, March 18th | 12:30 PM

The Lab Theater

700 N. 1st St

Minneapolis, MN 55401

EEE will be hosting a specially priced, schools-only performance of Snow Bound! on Friday, March 18th at (12:30 pm) during the school day! Snow Bound! is an infusion of puppetry and dance representing our human experience of winter interpreted through forms from the natural world. This special schools-only show will include a 45 minute performance of excerpts from Snow Bound!  Along with a 15 min discussion period following the performance where students and/or teachers can ask questions. Ticket costs for the show are $8 per person (classroom scholarships available) and can be purchased through the Lab Theater. If you are interested or have questions, please contact


EEE Company Profile:

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Megan Mohr

College attended/degree:  University of Minnesota, TC.  B.A. in Dance, and a B.A. in psychology

Number of years with EEE:  I started with EEE in the summer of 2007 so I think that makes almost 8 years… crazy! 

Besides class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs?  I am a yoga/fitness instructor.  I currently teach at 5 different studios in the south metro including Ballare.  I teach Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Yoga Barre, Yoga Sculpt,  and Yoga Circuit.  I am also a full time mommy to my 4.5 mo!  I love my job(s).  I get to be active, be around amazing talented and inspiring people, and best of all I get to spend a lot of time with my favorite human, my baby boy!!!

what I love about being an EEE dancer:  I love the pride I get when I tell people I dance for a Jazz company and then have to explain what Jazz is.  I love that I feel like I have a safe and supportive space to express my movement in rehearsal.  And, of course, I LOVE the people/dancers that make up EEE.  They are a second family to me and I feel so honored to share a stage, and a love of dance with them.  

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you?  Well I am 4.5 mo postpartum and I had a C-section.  I have never struggled with balance and have always felt very strong.  Since having my little guy and recovering from a C-section I have struggled with my balance and feeling very week in my core.  So, I guess you could say I am LEARNING all over again how to find my core and balance when moving.  I am inspired by all the strong and amazing mommas out there who are doing the same thing regardless if they are a dancer or not.  I think the hardest yet most amazing and rewarding thing I have ever done is be pregnant, go through labor, and be a parent.  It has taught me to have more integrity for myself and my body and to never take anything that I might do "well", like dance, for granted.  I am learning to be a dancer and a mom with a new body. 

Fun fact about me: I can now hold a baby, type on my computer and eat a sandwich all at once… pretty sure I could join the circus.  

The EEE Year Ahead

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Happy New Year!

Eclectic Edge Ensemble had so many things to be grateful for in 2015! Fantastic new company members and apprentices, a new Education & Outreach Director, two successful productions that brought together artistic collaborations with composers, musicians, dancers, choreographers and designers, MRAC funding and amazing individual donor support, not to mention the incredible collaboration with Karla Grotting on Lost Voices in Jazz which led us to the honor of receiving a 2015 SAGE Award for Outstanding Performance. We hope to continue to build off of this momentum and are inspired, charged and excited to enter into our 2016 Season.

Our performance season begins March 18th-20th, 2016 at The Lab Theater in Minneapolis with Snow Bound! Celebrating the 5th Anniversary since its creation, EEE and Mad Munchkin Productions are bringing back one of our favorites Snow Bound! A Journey from Autumn to Spring. It has been such a joy revisiting and recreating some of the pieces from Snow Bound as well as adding on brand new sections. In a few short weeks EEE and MMP will enter in rehearsal together to put everything together and see if we remember how to maneuver a giant snow dragon puppet filled with dancers.

Heather Annis.jpeg

In July EEE is honored to be a Guest Resident for The Southern Theater's 2016 ArtShare Program! July 21st-23rd, 2016 EEE presents First Nights of a Foot Flight at the Southern Theater.  First Nights will be an evening of jazz dance sure to make you want to move!  Accompanied by newly composed music, the evening will include concert works by myself, and I am proud, honored and excited to announce a new work by guest choreographer Kaleena Miller! First Nights will also include a preview of Foot Flight by Night future evening length work - an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We are ecstatic about our upcoming season, return our outreach classes, workshops and intensives and the new, exciting journeys that lay in front of us! EEE is bursting with gratitude with everything we have received in the past and our eyes our open wide to our future. One of my huge personal dreams and goals may be very close to coming true. More to come...

Cheers to 2016!

Karis Sloss

Season's Greetings from EEE!

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Eclectic Edge Ensemble extends our heartfelt greetings to you and your family this holiday season!  May the celebrations bring you peace, love, and joy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at EEE! 

EEE Company Profile:

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Allison Doughty-Marquesen

College Attended/Degree: BFA in Dance from University of  MN, MA in Holistic Health Studies from St. Catherine University

Number of years with EEE:  9 1/2 - WOW, time flies ;)

Besides your time in class and rehearsal with EEE, what are your other jobs? I am an adjunct dance faculty member at Minnesota State University, Mankato; I teach/choreograph a few nights a week here in the Twin Cities; am a holistic nutrition and health coach; and the best job of all - I'm a mom to an 18 month old future super star named Nolan. 

What do you love about being an EEE dancer? There are many things... two of the greatest factors that come to mind; 1. Karis' choreography often challenges me to move and think differently than what is innate in my body. This pushes me to become a better dancer and a more well rounded artist. 2. EEE is a family of beautiful dancers and people. Some of us have been together a long time, and the kinship is very strong. We support each other inside the studio and out, and we laugh a LOT. 

As a dancer, what's something you're learning right now/ something that's inspiring you? As we prepare to remount Snow Bound! for it's 5 year anniversary in March, I am back rehearsing the "Spring's First Flower" solo. This was a challenging and very rewarding piece to work on then, and it's interesting to come back to it after so much has happened in my own professional and personal life. In many ways it's very much "in me," however there is a great newness to it that makes it exciting. I look forward to seeing how it will turn out by performance time. 

  • Random/fun fact about yourself: I don't watch much TV, but I LOVE the show "The Office." I've seen every episode about 1,000 times and it never gets old. If I ever had to work in a typical office setting, I certainly hope that Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute would be working there too. :) 

EEE Blog Contributor, Karla Grotting!

Eclectic Edge Ensemble

What is it about Jazz?

Jazz music and dance, along with tap dance, are indigenous American art forms that developed from the mix of African and European elements. The seed is African and is planted in America through the harsh and heartbreaking realities of slavery. The development of jazz tells the story of race in America. It’s complex. It’s difficult to look at and it’s also fascinating to see the power in the ways African cultural elements mutate and shift in order to survive in this harsh new land.

African musical ideas like polymetrics, polyrhythms, syncopation, competition, improvisation along with African vocal styles and a different tuning system meet with classical European musical training and the pot stirs to create a new form of music that has both European and African influences, and it begins a long telling of the black experience in America.

It’s important for jazz and tap dancers to investigate this history, to understand the imbalances in power, and the incredible artistic drive to remember Africa in America.

Too often, the jazz music has become separated from jazz dance. A trip to a dance competition or even watching an episode of SYTYCD will show that “jazz dance” in today’s larger culture often means virtuosic ballet technique, mixed with hip-hop accents and performed to popular music. There are reasons for this separation of jazz music and dance and we’ll explore it in further articles, but in large part, it is due to the intense racism experienced by blacks after the end of WWII.

For now, I’d simply like to lay the groundwork for further discussion about jazz music and dance. How do we define it? What do we need to know about it to dance it, teach it and choreograph to it with an understanding of its complex history, the larger context and to explore what’s at the heart of it?

One of my favorite definitions of jazz dance, and I wish I knew who to credit with it, is that jazz dance is “the triumph of rhythm over the disorganized human condition”. In African musical culture, the use of rhythm is so sophisticated that many African languages can be reproduced in rhythm using the pitch, timbre and rhythm of the talking drum. It’s not like Morse code, but actually making the drums speak the words. For me, it’s this idea of rhythm as communication that is deeply embedded in jazz and connecting to that power is a worthy goal for jazz artists of all stripes.