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. Their joint study of Indian classical dance and yoga was a turning point in their growth as artists and individuals. 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.
Monica received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National School of Dance and Folklore in Havana, where she also performed professionally with the Cuban dance company Retazos. Later she received a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala, and also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. Returning home again, Monica joined the faculty at the University of Panama as a professor of dance, while continuing to perform extensively in Central and South America.
In 2003, Monica received a master’s degree in education from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. Currently, Monica teaches aerial dance at Webster University in St. Louis, where she also choreographs for its Dance Ensembles. In 2010 and 2011, Monica worked with the St. Louis non-profit consortium ANNONYArts to produce her shows “Aerial Fusion” and “Airborne Soirée.”
Graciela received her Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center. She also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. 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.
As a professor of dance at the University of Panama, Graciela developed an interest in the native dances of her country. Her 1998 article “La Danza en Ngobe,” based on her research into the authentic dance culture of the Ngobe-Buglé people, appeared in the book Pueblos Indígenas de Panamá, published by UNESCO.
Inspired by their desire to take dance into the local community, Graciela and Monica co-founded two dance companies in their native Panama: Creadanza, the first Panamanian contemporary dance company, and Gramo Danse, Panama’s first aerial dance company. The sisters most recently collaborated with Gramo Danse on the world premiere in August 2016 of Mar de Zvr – Mito y Realidad, an aerial and contemporary dance production telling the fantastic story of Vasco Nunez de Balboa’s memorable journey across the Isthmus of Panama, culminating with the sighting of the Pacific Ocean. This production was supported in part by a generous grant from Iberescena, from whom Gramo Danse received an award.
Graciela and Monica are committed to expanding global awareness of their uniquely innovative and expressive movement style. In 2015, the sisters created NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE. Currently based in St. Louis, NEWSAM promotes the physical, mental, and emotional development of its students through the teaching and performing of aerial dance. As teachers, performers and choreographers – Monica at Webster University, and Graciela with her company Arts de l’Air, on the French Riviera – the sisters fulfil their dream of introducing performers of all ages to the excitement of aerial dance.
Aerial Dance for Dancers – Hammock – Technique & Syllabus 1 is the first in a projected six-volume series of their pioneering aerial dance curriculum.