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The Dance Enthusiast Asks "What's So Funny?"

The Dance Enthusiast Asks "What's So Funny?"
Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter

By Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter
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Published on April 6, 2012

TDE Asks The Comic Artists of Triskelion Arts' Comedy Festival

The Dance Enthusiast Asks: "What's So Funny?"
Comedy in Dance Festival

Triskelion Arts Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
April 5-7th, 2012 and April 12-14th, 2012 at 8pm

Trina Mannino reporting for The Dance Enthusiast / photos courtesy of the choreographers.

Triskelion Arts’ Third Annual Comedy in Dance Festival provides a wonderful opportunity for artists from all disciplines and styles to express their silly sides. Several Festival choreographers told The Dance Enthusiast what makes them crack a smile and how they attempt to make their audiences giggle. The festival is going on for two weekends. Don’t miss this smorgasbord of hilarity.


What is the difference between how to choreograph funny and how to perform funny?

Jackie Monyahan


Jackie Moynahan, JaxDance:

I think that the comedy really comes through from the performer. You can try to choreograph funny, but as with comedians I think it is really in the delivery and timing. The unexpectedness of it is sometimes what get's you. In the dance world I think you really have to create an environment where the audience feel OK or comfortable to laugh and react out-loud to the work!




Jamie Benson






Jamie Benson, Bowel Movement

We'll first & foremost, SURPRISE is the cornerstone of humor & entertainment. That's in my head whether choreographing or performing. Like many comedians, I'm setting up a dynamic, then structuring a punch-line that mixes up that dynamic & (hopefully) surprises the viewer. I suppose you choreograph what's funny to you then, with live performance, become extremely conscious & receptive to the crowd's response. Sometimes I'm surprised what "sells" with an audience. You set it, then have to "live" it out. When performing, you end up collaborating some with your audience, depending on the their sensitivities & mood. You may play up different parts or find a new funnier rhythm to the work asyou perform it.








Abby Bender, Artistic Director of Triskelion Arts and Schmantze Theatre:





Abby Bender's Schmantze Dance Theatre

Funny choreography does not always make for a funny performance. I believe the quality of and the commitment to the performance are more important. Funny moves are pretty easy to make. The body can do hilarious things. Dancers aren't necessarily trained at making themselves appear goofy, nor are they always comfortable owning humor. If a performer can commit fully to whatever the 'funny' in the work is, be it concept or movement, then it will resonate and people will laugh…hopefully. Comic dancing is sort of a different animal from what most modern dancers long to do-which is why this festival is so unique. I need to get my fill of funny dances once in a while for purely selfish reasons. I love when a piece turns me into one of those brazen audience members who's laughing too loud.






What are some of the funniest pieces you’ve ever seen?


Jessica Bonefant


Jessica Bonenfant, Lola Lola Dance Theatre:

I think artists who have training in Le Coq or European style movement theatre and clowning have brilliant physical humor (like Bronwyn Sims & Patrick Donnelly, John Leo, and Suzanna Gergahty.


Annika Sheaff:

I think Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak do "funny" very well. They are very intelligent and clever. I think Paul Taylor is terrible at funny, it is so gimmicky and fake. However, in my book, Tina Fey takes the cake!


Annika Sheaff














Marian Hyun, President of Jazz Choreography Enterprises Inc.

Marian Hyun, President of Jazz Choreography Enterprises, Inc:

I've seen many funny pieces in both theatrical and movie dances. But a ballet performance I saw as a teenager made me realize that ballets and dances outside musical theater could be funny. Terry Orr, a dancer with American

Ballet Theater, scampered hilariously around the stage and flirted with the audience during a performance of "Helen of Troy." I thought his ability to make a huge audience at the Met laugh so much made him very powerful.


Sun-ae Hwang, SUNPROJECT








Sun-ae Hwang, Artistic director of SUNPROJECT:

Larry Keigwin's “Bolero”. The dancers in the piece were not trained dancers and were using their personality. It was Fantastic!!



















How do you "test" out a work to see if an audience responds well to its humor?

Patricia Zeccola, Not getting Naked


Patricia Zeccola, Not getting Naked:

It's hard to know if something is going to be funny. Humor is so unique to each person. So, we stick with our instincts and if it makes us laugh, that's good enough for me.


Kate Taylor:

I find it very difficult to rehearse alone because of exactly that, so I don’t! I rehearse with a director whose kids sometime come and watch the rehearsals. They are a great audience for a test run. We thought the material was maybe too scary for them, but they thought it was hysterical and the 5 year old had great suggestions!





Kate Taylor



















Sarah Horne, A Dance Can+Company




Sarah Horne, Artistic Director of A Dance Can + Company:

I never tested this piece out for audience responses... So it could totally fail! I know I personally enjoy it so hopefully the humor I see will be apparent to others. The particular piece was first performed in a curated university show and people seemed to enjoy it then. When I applied for the Comedy in Dance Festival I knew I could really push the comical boundaries in this dance a lot further, so that's specifically what I've been working on.a.




What do you when an audience doesn't get a joke or the funny part to your work?


Nadia Tykulsker, Spark(Edit)Arts


Nadia Tykulsker, Spark(Edit)Arts:

I have never had an audience respond the same way to the same piece of work. Spark(edIt) recently performed an evening length work over three nights and there were no two nights in which the audience laughed at the same time. I haven't ever made a piece and thought that people would laugh, I think it's exciting that audiences find such different things funny.

Billy Schultz







Billy Schultz:

You suffer! And hopefully learn something.




How would you describe your humor?


Marisa Gruneberg, white road Dance Media


Marisa Gruneberg, white road Dance Media:

Direct. In my solo, my humor comes straight from my character, Mick Jagger, and the situation he's currently in.
It's 1970-something and Mick's arrived at a BBC taping to sing Barbara Streisand's hits. In the days leading up to the show I get sort of method about the whole thing, you know, really walking in his shoes, the accent, the hair, drinking, smoking, hitting on women, being the star. The swagger is so key.

AND, if Mick's reading this, I just want him to know I'm available for birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and major charity events.

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