Graciela Newsam, 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. She also co-founded the first Panamanian contemporary dance company “Creadanza,” with her sister and life-long collaborator Monica Newsam.
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; 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.
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 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. Graciela also began exploring aerial circus techniques in order to add another dimension to her work. Through her continuing association with 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. Her current projects include the joint development with Monica of a university-level aerial dance curriculum. This curriculum has already been implemented Xielo/Gramo Danse in Panama, with a future expansion planned at Webster University in St. Louis.