Mission & Artistic Vision

Graciela and Monica are committed to expanding global awareness of their uniquely innovative and expressive movement style. Through their continuing work as teachers, performers and choreographers, and most notably in their pioneering aerial dance curriculum developed in conjunction with performing arts students at Webster University, the sisters are fulfilling their dream of introducing performers of all ages to the excitement of aerial dance.

About Our Founders: Sisters & Life-Long Collaborators

Monica Newsam,

(Choreographer and dancer) Co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE, was discovered at age five for her passion for movement and dance, marking the beginning of a life-long journey to define her singular artistic vision.

Monica’s internationally acclaimed body of work in dance and choreography stretches four continents – from North America and South America to Europe and Asia. She received her BFA at the National School of Dance and Folklore in Havana.

Monica continued her exploration of international movement styles in India. She received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala.

With her 2003 Master’s in Education from Lindenwood University, Monica began exploring aerial circus techniques, lending new perspectives to her artistic work. Currently, Monica teaches aerial dance at Webster University and choreographs for its dance ensembles. Since 2017, Monica and Graciela have been releasing books in the pioneering series Aerial Dance Curriculum for Dancers, which they use while teaching workshops and master classes.

Throughout her extensive creative output, Monica seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline.

Graciela Newsam,

(Choreographer and dancer) Co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE, was born in Panama and started dancing at an early age. While studying journalism at the University of Panama, Graciela began teaching dance under the guidance of renowned instructors Ginela Vasquez, Leslie Reyes, and Barbara Berger. She performed in different venues throughout Panama City, such as the Pacific Theater Center and the Panama Canal Zone.

Graciela’s enthusiasm for dance has inspired her to study different styles of movement such as classical ballet, contemporary dance, gymnastics, Indian classical dance, yoga, and aerial circus.

While studying in India, Graciela received a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala; she also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. Successful performances in New Delhi generated invitations for Graciela to perform in both France and Italy. 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.

With her continued association with the Panamanian dance company Gramo Danse as a teacher, performer and choreographer, Graciela is fulfilling her dream of introducing children to the power of dance.

In all the facets of her artistic output, Graciela seeks to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, expressive movement discipline.

Career Highlights & Accomplishments

In 1999, inspired by their desire to take dance into the local community, Graciela and Monica co-founded Gramo Danse Company, the first aerial dance company in Panama. The sisters also co-founded the first Panamanian contemporary dance company “Creadanza,” together.

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.

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.

Artistic Co-Productions & Collaborations

The most recent co-production between Gramo Danse and NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE was the world premiere in August 2016 of Mar de Zvr – Mito y Realidad, an aerial and contemporary dance production which tells the fantastic story of Vasco Nunez de Balboa’s memorable journey across the Isthmus of Panama, culminating with the sighting of the Pacific Ocean. Plans for a touring version of the production are currently underway, with appearances scheduled in Costa Rica and Colombia.

Additionally, Monica has worked with artist Tom Brady and non-profit ANNONYArts in performance installations since 2008.

Monica Newsam, (Choreographer, dancer, and co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE)

Monica was discovered at age five for her passion for movement and dance, marking the beginning of a life-long journey to define her singular artistic vision.

She received her BFA at the National School of Dance and Folklore in Havana. Monica continued her exploration of international movement styles in India. She received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala. With her 2003 Master’s in Education from Lindenwood University, Monica began exploring aerial circus techniques, lending new perspectives to her artistic work.

Currently, Monica teaches aerial dance at Webster University and choreographs for its dance ensembles

Graciela Newsam, (Choreographer, dancer, and co-founder of NEWSAM AERIAL DANCE)

Graciela was born in Panama and started dancing at an early age. While studying journalism at the University of Panama, Graciela began teaching dance under the guidance of renowned instructors Ginela Vasquez, Leslie Reyes, and Barbara Berger. Graciela’s enthusiasm for dance has inspired her to study different styles of movement such as classical ballet, contemporary dance, gymnastics, Indian classical dance, yoga, and aerial circus.

While studying in India, Graciela received a Post Graduate Diploma in Indian Classical Dance at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Center of Kerala; she also taught ballet and contemporary dance at the American Embassy School and the Lycée Français de Delhi. Successful performances in New Delhi generated invitations for Graciela to perform in both France and Italy. 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.

Mysteria Spellazza (Dancer)

Mysteria Spellazza, a native of St. Louis, was raised in the arts. She saw her first dance concert at age two. While watching the performance, her mother whispered to her, asking if she would like to dance like that. In a trance, she rose from her seat and headed for the stage. That passion opened her exploration of various movements of grace and physicality, from training in classical dances at COCA, to social dances at conferences, circus arts at Circus Harmony and Circus Flora, gymnastics at Team Central and St. Louis Gymnastics Center’s team, and performing all over the St. Louis metropolitan area in dance and circus arts. After receiving a Bachelor’s in dance at Webster University, her passion continues to develop her physically, mentally, and spiritually. She continues to travel around the world, attending the Irish Aerial Dance Festival, and working and performing with Newsam Aerial Dance Company.

Megan Reed (Dancer)

Megan Reed was born and raised in the St. Louis area and began dancing at a local studio at the age of three. She continued her dance training at Webster University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Modern Dance in 2019. Since graduating, Megan has trained and performed with Backhaus Dance Company in Orange, CA and is currently working and performing with Newsam Aerial Dance Company.