Monica Hogan Thysell (T’12) said that her time with the Dance Program truly defined her Duke experience. As a freshman, she had the opportunity to be a part of Torelli and Eight Jelly Rolls, both Twyla Tharp repertory performance works. She choreographed and directed her first full-evening showcase of works, “Heartwork,” which went on to become a regular annual production involving 30 students. The third and final show, “Heartwork: Triptych Concluded,” developed into her senior thesis with Distinction; it focused on the integration of dance choreography with technology and explored a variety of digital platforms.
In 2012, she worked alongside dance faculty Barbara Dickinson as an assistant choreographer for “Ragtime,” one of Duke’s largest theatrical productions.
Monica also choreographed four original works for the Dance Program’s productions, November Dances and ChoreoLab during her time at Duke.
“In so many ways, the Duke Dance Program truly helped me to grow into myself as a performer, a choreographer, and as a person,” she confirms and adds, “It would be impossible to put a value on the opportunities Duke Dance has given me for intense artistic exploration. I was regularly challenged, constantly encouraged, and provided with endless resources to try new things and step out- side of my comfort zone. It was such an inspiring environment that I was determined to soak up every opportunity I could manage to squeeze into those four years... and I am so grateful that I did! I look back at the dancer/choreographer I was four years ago and then look at myself today, and I can see a marked change because of everything the Duke Dance Program has taught me.”
Monica Hogan Thysell is a professional choreographer, teacher, and dancer based in New York City. As the artistic director of her company, Monica Hogan Danceworks, she has presented choreography on stages internationally including: Ailey Citigroup Theater, DUMBO Dance Festival, Dixon Place, Actor’s Fund Arts Center, Gelsey Kirkland ArtsCenter, NY Jazz Choreography Project, Queens Council on the Arts, CoolNY Dance Festival (NYC); Xuzhou Concert Hall, Tianjin Concert Hall (China); Triangle Dance Festival for AIDS (NC); and Jazz on Tap (GA), to name a few.
She and her company have held numerous artist-in-residence masterclasses and discussion panels for the Duke University Dance Program. Monica has performed professionally with companies including Gaspard&Dancers, De Funes Dance Company, BalaSole Dance Company, Phyzix Urban Dance Theatre, and more. On screen, Monica has performed in music videos for artists including Delta Rae and Vienna Teng and in work for AdCouncil and The College Board. In 2011, she was a choreographer and dancer in the opening ceremonies of the Universiade olympic games in Shenzhen, China. She serves the greater dance community as Marketing Director for National Choreography Month (NACHMO).
She was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where she trained at numerous studios including the Georgia Ballet and Atlanta Ballet. Monica graduated with distinction in Dance Choreography and Performance from Duke University, where she was the winner of the Louis Sudler Prize in the Creative and Performing Arts. While there, Monica had the opportunity to learn from workshops with artists/companies including Alonzo King’s LINES, Nederlands Dans Theater, Alvin Ailey, Chunky Move, Mark Dendy, David Dorfman, Donald Byrd, Shen Wei, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and more. Her performance repertory there included Twyla Tharp's Eight Jelly Rolls and Torelli, along with countless works by acclaimed dance faculty.