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Embodiment Project (San Francisco, CA)

EP is made up of ten dancers and six singers, who work together to not only entertain, but make dance theater that unravels social issues. The vocal ensemble is lead by EP’s musical director and critically acclaimed singer/songwriter, Valerie Troutt.  The company is unique in that each dancer also performs text and the vocalists are seamlessly interwoven into the choreographic works. The men and women in the company are fiercely dedicated to the empowerment of women, and explore the female orientation to street dance styles, while still honoring the history and ethos of this male-dominated art form. EP’s mission is to uphold appreciation and understanding for Hip Hop dance and culture by presenting original, multi-media work to diverse audiences that challenge conceptual approaches to concert dance. The juxtaposition of Popping, House, Hip Hop, B-boying/B-girling, and Waacking with theatrical spoken word helps create EP’s signature style of ‘choreo-poetry’.

Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project was selected as one of the Bay Area’s “ten companies and artists who challenged expectations and unveiled surprises… in 2012.”  EP performed in the collaborative mixed media production Block By Block, directed by Sean San Jose, as part of the artist fellowship series at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. EP has also performed at highly recognizable Festivals including, Marc Bamuthi Joseph's Left Coast Leaning Festival, The Crucible Fire Arts Festival and Dance Brigade's Manifest-ival for Social Change, ODC’s Walking the Distance Festival, as well as Krissy Kefer’s Voluspa: A Ghost Dance For 2012. In the Bay Area, the company has presented original works at the de Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, La Peña Cultural Center. EP has performed three consecutive years in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Green Show (OR) as well as three home season shows at the Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco. EP is one of the artist-in-residence dance companies at the Red Poppy Art House and Dance Mission Theater. 

As a solo performer, Klaymoon created the dance theater production, Sixth Vowel, directed by Kamilah Forbes of the Hip Hop Theatre Festival New York and choreographed by Rennie Harris.  Chuck Strouss, art critic of the Miami New Times Blog, wrote “Nicole Klaymoon’s Sixth Vowel was “THE BEST small theatrical production I have seen in this city in a decade. Sixth Vowel toured to highly recognizable festivals and venues including the Hip-Hop Theater Festival (NY), Illadelph Legends of Hip-Hop Festival (PA), Electric Lodge (CA), Miami Hip-Hop Project  (MI), the Bride Theater (PA), UC Riverside (CA), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland), Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Black Swan Theater (OR), Studio Theatre (MD), 4th Street Theater, New York Theater Workshop (NY), and Intersection for the Arts Theater (CA).

EP is also recognized for their educational outreach, community arts practices, and groundbreaking cross-cultural collaborations in Kenya, Africa. Klaymoon and EP’s sound designer, Makana Muanga, facilitated a performance training in Embu, Kenya that was sponsored by G.R.A.C.E. Africa and Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Deadalus Project.  To promote self-awareness, healing, and empowerment through education around the HIV/AIDS virus, Klaymoon guided youth in the creation of collaborative and interdisciplinary performance pieces. EP has also performed in the community arts project, SKYWATCHERS, created with the Community Housing Partnership, residents of the Senator Hotel, Tenderloin National Forest (San Francisco), and ABD Productions.  In 2010, EP hosted a weekly street dance event called the REBIRTH, which was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and La Peña Cultural Center. EP has been teaching a weekly company class at Dance Mission Theater since 2009 and has taught at San Francisco’s Stern Grove Festival Youth Program for the past two years. Klaymoon has taught spoken word and movement workshops in children’s hospitals and has worked as a resident artist in over 30 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

As part of a new generation of artists that practice Hip Hop dance forms, EP works to pay tribute to the forgotten struggles of pioneering African, Caribbean, and Latin American street dancers.  The company continually engages in research and encourages dialogue about the dance's vast history. 

Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project was selected as one of the Bay Area’s “ten companies and artists who challenged expectations or unveiled surprises… in 2012.”
- SF Bay Guardian

“Jazz vocalist Valerie Troutt is unquestionably one of the best…songwriters around. Armed not only with a pure-toned voice but a preternatural sense of rhythm…Troutt has the power to turn listeners into avid fans in the course of a few bars.”
- Rachel Swan, East Bay Express

“Nicole Klaymoon’s Sixth Vowel, produced by the Miami Light Project last Friday was THE BEST small theatrical production I have seen in this city in a decade.”
- Chuck Strouse, Miami New Times Blog

“… There was something so grand and operatic about this house that became a home that I couldn't help but feeling pulled in.”
- Rita Felciano, SF Bay Guardian

“You can have a first encounter with an artist who pushes you right to the edge of your seat — the work’s ingredients are good, but it’s the way they interlock or bounce off each other that makes you look forward to what else this person will come up with in the future. Such was the case with Nicole Klaymoon.” 
- Rita Felciano, SF Bay Guardian

“This age of American Idol and Disney-approved singers has no room for a big, brassy woman who takes no shit and can really belt one out. From Big Mama Thornton to Etta James all the way to Patti Labelle, every generation has had one but ours. It's like when Chuck D asked all those years ago, "Who stole the soul?" Thank goodness for Valerie Troutt and the Fear Of a Fat Planet Crew. During college Valerie was mentored by jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, Troutt approaches R&B standards, house grooves, and her original socially conscious jazz and soul compositions with the verve of the missing masters.”
- D. Scot Miller, S.F. Weekly.

“Valerie Troutt's voice is a thing of rare beauty -- stunning in its deceptive simplicity and expressive without resorting to melismatic melodrama. Troutt approaches her imaginative lyrics with stirring conviction, but she never oversells the song. ”
- John Murph - NPR

“House's trajectory from tension to reconciliation flowed seamlessly.”
- Rita Felciano, SF Bay Guardian

“The audience – from a bunch of goateed 20 year olds to elegant elderly ladies -- surfed along behind the hip-hop dancer/actor as she played the part of a school kid, commented on the way schools don’t work, made you laugh your ass off, and think even harder.”
- Chuck Strouse, Miami New Times Blog

Touring Programs

House of Matter

- 8 dancers and 4 vocalists

Presented as a journey through the different rooms of a house, the performers in House of Matter demonstrate emotional transparency through athletic street dance, spoken word, and live song — courageously invoking memories and longings for home. This multi-media production features acclaimed ‘choreo-poet’ d. Sabela Grimes, a live vocal ensemble lead by Valerie Troutt, and interactive video design by Alejandro Acosta – offering grand, operatic elements within this House as it morphs into a place of belonging.

Repertory Program

- 8 dancers

The Repertory Program includes energetic and highly physical choreographic works that showcase various party dances and street dance traditions, including Popping, House, Hip Hop, B-boying/B-girling, and Waacking. Repertory works also include captivating and awe-inspiring freestyle performances. This work communicates a celebratory and uplifting message of unity, action, and strength.

Dare to Love

Dare to Love is a series of emotionally revealing ‘chore-poems’ and duets that explore intimacy and manhood.

- 5 dancers and 3 vocalists

X Rated Planet

- 7 inter-disciplinary performers

X Rated Planet is an all female dance theater piece that explores the interconnectedness between the exploitation and domination of women with that of the planet. Through radically transparent language, both spoken and encapsulated inside of gestural movement, the X Rated Planet reveals a tapestry of real-life under-told stories; namely, ones of abuse, humanity, and heroism with a palpable urgency to build a better future for earth’s progeny. Performers invoke ancient archetypes and mythological figures to offer a broader interpretation of urban ritual. 


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National Boutique Roster:

Astra Dance Company

Embodiment Project

Groundworks Dance Theatre

Kanopy Dance Company

L.A. Contemporary Dance Co.


Missouri Contemporary Ballet

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