SummerWorks, The Movement Project’s annual summer dance series, has come to be not only be a staple within the Tremont and surrounding Cleveland communities, but has also proven itself time and time again to be synonymous with creativity and fresh choreographic ideas. Audiences attending the performance this year will be treated to new works created specifically for SummerWorks, as well as performances by up and coming young dance artists participating in this year’s Summer Intensive. 

Company members Irene Honora, Rebecca Leuszler, Elyse Morckel, and Grace Nicklos each share their choreographic voice in this year’s series. In anticipation for the upcoming show, I felt it was important to beg the question, what goes on inside a choreographer’s mind when creating a new piece of work? How do they decide movement, spacing, timing, music, costumes, and every other detail that goes into creating a brand-new piece of work? In order to get to the bottom of these questions, I had to discover for myself what served as the inspiration for the choreographers behind each piece being debuted at SummerWorks. 

Elyse Morckel, a familiar face to The Movement Project audiences, looked to the six elements of drama to serve as the topic of interest for her upcoming piece. Those six elements, for those unfamiliar, include plot, character, thought, diction, music, and spectacle. Although I knew nothing of these six elements prior to the piece, after learning what each element was, I could only imagine the numerous possibilities Morckel could, and would, explore. Using a combination of distinct musical choices as well as movement, Morckel has created six different vignettes exploring the many sides of theatre and drama. Morckel herself stated that when creating new pieces, she looks to answer the question, “is this confusing enough?” From interweaving and overlapping movement to sudden musical shifts, Morckel seems to have successfully created a visually stunning piece that certainly answers that question with a resounding “yes.” 

TMP dancers Grace Nicklos and Elyse Morckel in rehearsal for the upcoming SummerWorks show.

TMP dancers Grace Nicklos and Elyse Morckel in rehearsal for the upcoming SummerWorks show.

Grace Nicklos utilized the entire The Movement Project company in creating her new piece of work for SummerWorks 2019. In talking with Nicklos, she found inspiration for her piece based on the subject of “circles.” Drawing thoughtfully on this inspiration and imagery, she created the movement for her SummerWorks creation based around this particular topic. As a dancer within the piece, as well as a witness to the creative process, it’s fascinating to see the creative ways Nicklos uses the image of “circles” throughout. At certain times, image of “circles” is obvious, yet other times, she takes the image and develops it further through compelling choreographic means. For me, what makes Nicklos’ choreography stand out is the way she takes oftentimes simple, basic movement, and is able to string it together in a spellbinding fashion. 

While watching a rehearsal run through of company member and choreographer Rebecca Leuszler’s piece for the upcoming SummerWorks series, the first word that came to mind was “competition.” Using only two dancers, Elyse Morckel and Grace Nicklos, within the first waking moments of the choreography, I felt compelled to know which of the two dancers would end up as the victor. Would Elyse triumph over Grace, would Grace out-dance Elyse and come out on top? I eagerly awaited a solution to the competition playing out in front of me, but as the piece progressed, I felt a shift in intentionality. Instead of competition, I felt a sense of support. There are times throughout Leuszler’s piece in which the dancers beautifully share weight and seem to find the literal, as well as emotional, support between one another. Not only does the choreography draw upon the idea of the support, but it seems the music does so as well. With slightly dark melodic tones, the score Leuszler chose for her piece beautifully supports the choreography between the two dancers. Never once in the piece does the music over-power the movement, but instead, it serves as the perfect musical backdrop for a thought provoking, eye-catching piece.  Negative space and vision stand out as two strong aspects of choreography within Leuszler’s piece. The way in which both Morckel and Nicklos take the movement and seamlessly maneuver around one another speaks volumes to Leuszler’s choreography and creativity. 

For her SummerWorks 2019 piece, Irene Honora  expertly combines creative, beautiful modern movement with animalistic tendencies. Set on dancers Rebecca Leuszler, Elyse Morckel, and Grace Nicklos, Honora’s piece often shifts into a spooky realm. While the music certainly helps in setting the mood, Honora seems to have a knack for successfully keeping the audience on the edge of their seat. When watching this piece for the first time, I found myself wondering what the story behind the choreography was, how it was going to end, and ultimately, thinking “wait, that was the end?” Ending in a haunting, yet beautifully,  unresolved manner, each time I’ve watched this piece in the rehearsal process, my take-away description phrase has been “trance inducing.” Honora herself has stated she loves to keep an audience guessing, and her new piece for SummerWorks 2019 does just that. 

Set to take place August 3rd, SummerWorks 2019 looks to be an enjoyable night full of dance. From new works by The Movement Project company members, to guest performances from the 2019 Summer Intensive artists, this is truly a show not to be missed. For more information and tickets, check out