Mission & Artistic Vision

Graciela and Monica are committed to sharing their passion for aerial dance and seek to expand global awareness of aerial dance as an exciting, uniquely innovative, and expressive movement discipline/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 and power of aerial dance.

“Our desire to share our passion for aerial dance with others is truly a driving force for us.”

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.

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.

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

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. 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.

Graciela began teaching dance at the University of Panama in 1998 under the guidance of renowned instructors Ginela Vasquez, Leslie Reyes, and Barbara Berger. 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. In 2018, Graciela completed her Licence Arts du Spectacle, Danse, at l’Université Nice Sophia Antipolis.

In addition, her continued association with the Panamanian dance company Gramo Danse as a teacher, performer and choreographer, has allowed Graciela to fulfill her dream of introducing children to the power of dance.

She currently teaches aerial dance and acrobatics to performers of all ages at l’École de Cirque Tous en Piste in Tourrette-Levens in the South of France.

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 1998, Monica and Graciela had a busy year. The sisters were invited by the Indian Embassy in Venezuela to perform for the 50th Anniversary of the Indian Independence. Monica and Graciela performed at The Theater Teresa Carreño in Caracas. This year, they also organized two concerts, one for only Indian Classical dance supported by the Indian Embassy in Panama called Homenaje a la India and a second production which focuses on contemporary dance. They added more members to the Fundación Gramo Danse in Panama and had their first performance called Danza Contemporanea 1 2 3 4 at The Balboa Theater.

In January, Monica was invited to perform in New Delhi, India. She performed in the production called New Works in Bharatanatyam by Justin MacCarthy. Monica also publish her first article about her experiences in India while learning Indian classical dance for the Indian Embassy in Panama.

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 2001, Fundación Gramo Danse started the year by organizing the first lecture demonstration around the city of Panama. The inauguration took place at the University of Panama and was sponsored by the Faculty of Art and private institutions. The company performed through 15 different high schools and institutions with a diverse program which informed the audience about the different types of dances, modern dance and contemporary dance.

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

In 2016, Newsam Aerial Dance collaborated with Fundacion Gramo Danse for 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. We were awarded an IBERESCENA grant for this production.

Additionally, Monica has worked with the Consortium artist and artistic director of the non-profit ANNONYArts in performance installations since 2008. In 2009, Monica was invited to choreograph a large production in Forest Park at the Shakespeare Glen called “Prodigal.” This was a 3-large-stage production performed outdoors. A full evening of visuals and dance narrating the story of the Prodigal Son. The production included a cast of 21 performers and 40 crew members. The collaboration with artist Tom Brady has continued with numerous productions, such as: 3Role Pole to Enlightenment, Fog Dog, Zilch, and Man in the Box being the last one that performed in San Francisco and Chicago in 2019.

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.

Monica’s internationally acclaimed body of work in dance and choreography stretches four continents – from North America and South America to Europe and Asia. Currently, Monica teaches aerial dance at Webster University and choreographs for its dance ensembles.

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

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

Graciela was born in Panama and started dancing at an early age. Her 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.

She has performed in different venues throughout Panama City, such as the Pacific Theater Center and the Panama Canal Zone. She studied Indian Classical Dance in India, and while there, Graciela 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. She currently teaches aerial dance and acrobatics to performers of all ages at l’École de Cirque Tous en Piste in Tourrette-Levens in the South of France.

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

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.