Monica Bill Barnes

Monica Bill Barnes is a New York based choreographer and performer. Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Barnes received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California at San Diego and moved to New York City in 1995. She then created her company, Monica Bill Barnes & Company, a contemporary American dance company with the mission to celebrate individuality, humor and the innate theatricality of everyday life. In 2002 Danspace Project presented the company’s first New York season, an evening-length work titled When we were pretty. MBB & CO. has performed in over twenty venues in New York City ranging from the DancemOpolitan Series at Joe’s Pub to Fall for Dance at New York City Center, has been presented in more than 30 cities throughout the United States, and has been a part of major dance festivals including Bates Dance Festival, The American Dance Festival and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. The company had their third season at The Joyce Theater in January 2012 as a part of FOCUS Dance. MBB & CO. has received support from The National Endowment for The Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, The Greenwall Foundation, Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Recent new works include Love, oh love created for Parsons Dance and The way it feels created for The Juilliard School’s New Dances. Upcoming projects include This American Life Live! event in May 2012, a commission and performances at The American Dance Festival in July 2012 and the company's first performance at The Kennedy Center in May 2013. 

Returning Choreographic Fellow | March 14 - 28, 2013

Luster / Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host

Monica Bill Barnes returned to MANCC to work on an evening length show with Ira Glass, Host and Executive Producer of public radio's This American Life, and Barnes’s long time collaborator Anna Bass. The evening, titled Three Acts,Two Dancers, One Radio Host includes text and commentary by Glass, alongside Barnes’s work-in-progress Luster, and Suddenly Summer Somewhere (developed during Monica’s 2007 MANCC Choreographic Fellowship).

"I am treating the two dances like short stories and source material from which a playwright and director will use to create a new play." – MBB

While in residence Barnes and Bass continued to work on Luster, explore the production components of Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host and consider the full arc of the evening with Glass.  Theater artist Trey Lyford joined the residency to offer dramaturgical support.  FSU students and local community members had multiple opportunities to witness and reflect on the work in development with Barnes, Bass and Stage Manager and Lighting Director Mary Ellen Stebbins.

The residency took place following a year-long relationship between Barnes and Glass, supported by a MANCC Media Fellowship Project, which included Monica Bill Barnes & Company performing on a live episode of Glass’s This American Life, which was shared via satellite to more than 500 movie theaters around the US and Canada.

Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host premiered April 20-21 at the Annenburg Center for the Performing Arts (PA).

  • Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass assemble set for <em>Luster</em>
  • Anna Bass shares material during School of Dance Entrypoint
  • Anna Bass
  • Bass teaches material to FSU Alum Loren Davidson
  • Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes
  • Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes
  • Barnes and Playwright Trey Lyford discuss material
  • Bass, Lyford and Barnes
  • Lighting Director/Production Stage Manager Mary Ellen Stebbins talks with Bass and Barnes
  • Anna Bass looks at storyboards
  • Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass rehearse
Collaborators in Residence: Anna Bass [performer],Trey Lyford [playwright/performer], Mary Ellen Stebbins [production stage manager & lighting director], Loren Davidson [Rehearsal Assistant]. Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron and Al Hall.

Media Fellowship Project | 2012

Ira Glass Collaboration 2012

Monica Bill Barnes began conversations with Ira Glass, Host and Executive Producer of public radio's This American Life, after he came to the company's New York season in June 2011. Seeing Barnes's work inspired him to create a cinema event; "I saw this amazing dance performance by Monica Bill Barnes' company, and I thought - that is totally in the style of our radio show. But obviously you can't have dance on the radio. Then I realized, we have to do another cinema event." On May 10, 2012, Barnes and her company performed on a live episode of This American Life on stage at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, which was shared via satellite to more than 500 movie theaters around the US and Canada. Glass also commissioned a dance for this event for one of his long time collaborators, David Rakoff. In addition to this cinema event, Glass led the conversation for a dance series at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival where Barnes presented Suddenly Summer Somewhere.

Barnes is interested in moving outside of the traditional dance field and exploring what possibilities exist when developing material from radio, theater, and dance. The outcomes of these investigations with Ira Glass (both public and private) will inform Barnes's 2013 MANCC residency.

This American Life - Live! was originally hosted on May 10th, 2012 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, and received several encore presentations.

The Media Fellowship Project is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Monica Bill Barnes on stage with the performers from <i>This American Life - Live!</i>
  • Barnes and Anna Bass perform <i>Suddenly Summer Somewhere</i>
  • Barnes and Bass on stage at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in NYC

Slideshow photos by Adrianne Mathiowetz / This American Life

Choreographic Fellow | February 25 – March 17, 2007

Suddenly Summer Somewhere

Barnes examined the way in which she uses context to create meaning in her work by re-defining the collaborative nature of her relationship with dramaturge and designer Kelly Hanson. Barnes utilized community input by showing three versions of staging, lighting, costuming, design, and musical options for the new duet. The artists also worked with senior community dancers examining how the passage of time affects the collective lives of two people.

Suddenly Summer Somewhere premiered at Danspace Project in 2008.

Collaborators in Residence: Kelly Hanson [dramaturge + designer], Anna Bass [dancer]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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