Monica & Graciela Newsam
Graciela and Monica are sisters, lifelong collaborators, and
passionate advocates of the power of movement. Both discovered dance at an
early age, studying ballet and contemporary dance in their native Panama. They
have danced in a variety of styles all over the world, giving performances in
France, Italy, India, Ecuador, El Salvador, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the United
States. Although they now live on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean – Monica
in the US and Graciela in the South of France – they continue to perform and
A joint study of Indian classical dance and yoga was a
turning point in the sisters’ growth as artists and individuals. They both hold
Post Graduate Diplomas in Indian Classical Dance from Shriram Bharatiya Kala
Kendra, and in Yoga from the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala.
In 1998, Graciela began teaching dance at the University of
Panama. Her interest in dance analysis brought her to Paris to study Benesh
Movement Notation at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Paris,
where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in 1997. In 2018, Graciela completed
her Licence Arts du Spectacle, Danse, at l’Université Nice Sophia Antipolis.
She currently teaches aerial dance and acrobatics to performers of all ages at
l’école de Cirque Tous en Piste
in Tourrette-Levens in the South of France.
Monica received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from La
Escuela Nacional de Danza in Havana, Cuba, where she also performed
professionally with the dance company Retazos. In 2003, Monica received her Master’s
in Education from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. Since 2006, Monica
has taught aerial dance at Webster University in St. Louis, MO. She also
choreographs for Webster’s Dance Ensembles, as well as performing and
choreographing work with the local non-profit consortium ANNONYArts.
Monica and Graciela are committed to expanding global
awareness of their uniquely expressive movement style. In 1989, they co-founded
Creadanza, the first Panamanian contemporary dance company. Ten years later,
inspired by their desire to take dance into the local community, they
co-founded Cía Gramo Danse, an aerial and contemporary dance company in Panama.
In 2015, the sisters started NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE, which promotes the teaching
and performing of aerial dance. In 2016, Gramo Danse and NEWSAM were awarded an
international grant by IBERESCENA to create the co-production “Mar del
Zvr-Mito y Realidad" which tells the fantastic story of Vasco Núñez de
Balboa’s memorable journey across the Isthmus of Panama.
In 2017, Monica and Graciela began a new phase in their work
together, with the publication of Aerial Dance for Dancers: Hammock-Technique
and Syllabus. This pioneering aerial dance curriculum is being developed with
the support of Webster University Department of Dance.
In 2020, Monica was awarded a Fellowship grant from the
Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. Both sisters are grateful for this vital
support, as it enables them to continue fulfilling their dream of introducing
performers of all ages to the excitement of aerial dance.