Linda Mensch – Feb AOTM Interview – Part Two!

All About The Dance…

Photo by JoEllen Kelly
Photo by JoEllen Kelly

SAC ~ What made you want to do this? What started it?

Linda ~ I started dancing when I was 7 and never looked back, never thought of stopping. My first dance class consisted of ballet, tap, jazz, and baton twirling all in one hour. I LOVED it! After class was over Mrs. Dirken, my dance teacher, would have us line up as she hand wrote in each of our notebooks the ballet terms we just learned and the tap step we just learned. I wish I’d kept that notebook.

When I was in junior high school, my physical education teacher saw my interest in dance and got me out of school once a week with 2 other high school girls and took us to NYC to Cunningham studio – my intro to Modern dance. It was different and challenging I was hooked. Then I found myself at Fokine Ballet Camp where we went to several shows at Jacobs Pillow where I saw my first Modern dance performance… so weird , so much to talk about when we came out of the theater. I wanted more, more, more…

My mom found The Center For Modern Dance in Hackensack, NJ., where I studied until graduation then continued to Bard College as a dance major. I had a dance company up and running after Bard for several years performing in theaters, parks, schools etc. Menschwerks performed in the NY-NJ area, in Boston and in London, England. I also performed with Dinosaur Dance Company, Spoke the Hub dance company, Aileen Passloff among others.

Photo by Diane Pell
Photo by Diane Pell

The plan was to have a Modern Dance company, to tour the world. Well, I built the company and got to perform. I worked with some inspiring dancers who made my choreography grow to new levels. Teaching became my passion unexpectedly.

Dance Inventions
Dance Inventions

My first teaching job was for blind senior citizens. I loved working with them. I created a dance film where they danced to Keith Richards singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. That began my love affair with the process of teaching. I went back to The Center for Modern Dance (where I studied from age 14) and I began training to become a teacher. I learned something so valuable there – that it wasn’t all about learning the steps – you also really needed to understand where students were developmentally and emotionally. I also worked with special needs students which, later in my life, became another big part of my teaching career. I taught for many years at Gowanus Arts Exchange, and Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn and in area preschools. My days were full of teaching dance and driving back and forth in NY and NJ and I loved every minute.

b and w classesEventually, I ended up moving to Warwick. My first job here was running a summer arts program at Warwick Valley Community Center. After, I taught classes within the Clocktower gym. I had 30 students at that point and with a bit of nudging from a friend I opened the Moving Company on Main Street above The Toy Chest and immediately had 60 students. I hired lots of interesting teachers over my 10 years there and saw lots of students go on to dance professionally or do other interesting things with their lives. I feel so grateful that so many of them have stayed in my life. The Moving Company, true to its name, has had many homes, and has been happily housed at Vastu for the past 4 years.

Photos by JoEllen Kelly
Photos by JoEllen Kelly

linda instructing

SAC ~ Do you have a favorite choreographer?

Linda ~ I like a lot of choreographers for different reasons. I always liked Twyla Tharp. Her choreography had ease within its complex technical movement. The subjects were interesting. There are so many great companies I admire; Yvonne Rainer, Jose Limon and many more.

"Passage" Photo by Hannah Maxwell
“Passage” Photo by Hannah Maxwell

SAC ~ Who influenced your work?

Linda ~ So many amazing teachers – particularly Marya Warshaw and Aileen Passloff. Both made us think inside, outside, and around the box. Their lessons still come up and make me say, “OH I get it now!” So thought-provoking.

Photo by JoEllen Kelly
Photo by JoEllen Kelly

SAC ~ What is the most difficult part of the process?

Linda ~ The difficult part might be starting, even though it still tickles me. The process is not all fun, it’s sometimes uncomfortable. Early on I learned to ride those times and have faith in the process.

 SAC ~ What about the process is the most fun?

 Linda ~ When the dance begins to have its own life, when the dance tells me what to do next…when the flow takes over.

Performance at Seligmann Center, Sugar Loaf, NY
Performance at Seligmann Center, Sugar Loaf, NY

 SAC ~ What inspires you?

Linda ~ These days I would say anything (can inspire) – a space, a headline, the way a crowd weaves. One of my favorite pieces I performed was called “Lily’s Planet” about a 3-year-old girl playing alone in her room with her doll who was not sure if it was real. The piece was based on real interactions with my friend’s daughter, things she said, how she moved. Another piece “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Barbie” (which also inspired a New Yorker cartoon by Danny Shanahan) was about being single at age thirty depicted through the use of Barbie dolls – Wedding Barbie, Spanish Barbie, Ken was Can’t Be Barbie, etc. Both pieces were danced to the music of Night Ark, an instrumental jazz quartet – with some of the music performed live.

Linda Mensch and Patty Cook ~ photo by JoEllen Kelly
Linda Mensch and Patty Cook ~ photo by JoEllen Kelly

The Moving Company is a thriving part of Warwick’s cultural community. Performances by the company can be experienced in many settings in and around Warwick. In the past, as participants in Warwick’s annual Arts Festivals, you would have found TMC dancing at Scheuermann Farm, at Railroad Green or in Sugar Loaf, NY (below), on Main Street or at Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center. The Moving Company Summer Arts Program dancers performed on the Carriage Path steps, followed by an art show in the adjacent Tuscan Cafe’ (now Sugar Shack Cafe’), and held an art show in Port Of Call (now Millspaugh Furniture). Working with community is something that comes naturally to Linda and her company and something she welcomes doing more of in the future.

‘Warwick Dances’ – part of the Warwick Summer Arts Festival, The Moving Company invited Warwickians to dance…and dance they did!  Check out the video here:

Below are photos from other performances…

Water dance Barn Yard dance

Pillow Dance - recital performance at Seligmann Center, Sugar Loaf, NY
Pillow Dance – recital performance at Seligmann Center, Sugar Loaf, NY

The Moving Company will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2017. Watch for a Facebook events page for details!

For more information about The Moving Company Dance Center visit the website and Facebook page:

http://movingcompanydance.wix.com/movingcompany

https://www.facebook.com/groups/119466066957/?fref=ts

Moving Co new logo

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Linda Mensch – Feb AOTM Interview – Part One!

More about Linda ~ handcrafted jewelry!

linda sepia

SAC ~ How did you come to make jewelry? Where did this creative adventure begin?

Linda ~ “Dance was always my “thing”. My sister was the ‘work with your hands’ person. I believed I was not able to create with my hands. When I was teaching dance at The Gowanus Arts Exchange in Brooklyn, Elise Long (the director) told us we were going to have a Christmas craft fair and said, “everyone go home and make something to sell”. I thought, “Oh boy, I don’t know how to make anything but dances.”

Linda Mensch Jewelry

“I was in a fun, funky toy store and saw this beautiful jar of marbles and found myself wishing I could wear them as jewelry. Mentioning that, the owner of the store asked if I would like her to call a findings company and ask them what we would need to make them into jewelry. She did, and ordered the supplies for me. I sold out at the craft fair and also got lots of orders for Christmas. From that small craft fair and subsequent orders, grew Linda Mensch’s Lost Marbles.”

“My jewelry was in Country Living Magazine, Victoria, and the movie Object of My Affection. My friend’s store, Plain Jane, was selling my jewelry at their Manhattan store – I was selling it wholesale. Realizing my hands could do creative work and seeing how much fun it was to make things, I have made jewelry ever since. I have taken classes, I love experimenting with different elements, objects, etc. My jewelry can now be found in Warwick at Newhards The Home Source, Conscious Fork, Whole Foods in N.J., Maria Louisa Boutique in Nyack and directly through me.”

game bracelet

SAC ~ Do you have a favorite jewelry designer or crafts-person?

Linda ~ “I don’t really have a favorite jewelry designer. I have very eclectic taste in the jewelry that I buy. I love re-purposed jewelry as well as fine jewelry.”

SAC ~ What, or who, influenced your work?

Linda ~ “The work I am doing now started when I was living in the UK. I bought a piece of jewelry at a flea market. It was an image behind glass. I always wanted to learn how to do this. Later, in Warwick, I noticed someone was selling this type of jewelry at Apple Fest and I asked if she would teach me. She told me to take a stained glass class and I would understand how to make it. I took a class the very next week.”

Bakelite poker chip earrings

SAC ~ What is the most difficult part of the process?

Linda ~ “Sometimes soldering gets to me, I am not fond of the smell.”

SAC ~ What about the process is the most fun?

Linda ~ “I love coming up with new images or ways to change what I have already started doing. I have also been learning how to sew. I have been making some fabric jewelry and working on handbags, of which I am a collector.”

SAC ~ What inspires you?

Linda ~ “I am always looking at what people are wearing. Pinterest has become a new source of inspiration, along with books, magazines, and junk drawers.”

Iconic Image Pendants on display
Iconic Image Pendants on display

For jewelry info or acquisition, contact Linda via her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/linda.mensch

You can see more photos of Linda’s handcrafted jewelry from her Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/linda.mensch/media_set?set=a.1344249243057.2044761.1136015757&type=3

COMING UP… Our interview with Linda Mensch, part two: It’s all about DANCE!

February Artist of the Month: Linda Mensch

The Many Creative Faces of Linda Mensch

Linda Mensch Collage

 There are many ways Linda Mensch is known here in Warwick, N.Y. She is the owner, artistic director and teacher at The Moving Co. Dance Center. She creates handmade jewelry. She and her husband, Glen, foster dogs on their way to good homes. She is a neighbor and a friend. When I think of her, two words come to mind; creative movement.

Dancer, choreographer ~ Linda’s dances can often be seen out-of-doors – walking by Railroad Green…

Water Dance, Railroad Green, Warwick, NY
Water Dance, Railroad Green, Warwick, NY

or sharing a picnic at Scheuermann Farms during the Warwick Arts Festival. The Moving Co. recitals held at Seligmann Center make creative use of the grounds…

two from Seligmann recital

along with other spaces in and around Warwick. Main Street landmarks like the old Gilvan’s building (when it was Port Of Call) ~ or the Carriage Path steps ~ or in front of Village Hall ~ or at Winslow Therapeutic Riding Center ~ all places you could find Linda’s choreography expressed through her dances.

Jewelry maker ~ Linda’s handmade pieces are available now at Newhards on Main Street and at Consciousfork on Railroad Avenue. Sharp Arts Community will feature more about her jewelry interview in a later post…stay tuned…

Linda Mensch Jewelry

Love and fostering ~ more to come about this labor of love for Linda and Glen…

Linda Glen Puppy Love

 Sharp Arts Community  has so much more to tell you about Linda Mensch – stay tuned for more! Up next: an interview with Linda about dance!