Company History

About Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers, Inc., a non-profit dance and theater company, was co-founded in 1997 by collaborators and childhood friends, Emily Bunning, choreographer/dancer, and Mara McEwin, writer/actor. Treehouse Shakers has created and performed thirteen original dance-plays for young audiences and adults in many established performance venues, including theaters, festivals and schools across the nation. The company is committed to creating work that encourages people to experience their feelings and their connection to the greater community. Treehouse Shakers achieves this by creating humanistic stories, experimenting with narrative styles and exploring the story’s elements through the abstractions of modern dance. Our work is unique in its offering young audiences a guided look at modern dance through powerful and meaningful theater. Treehouse Shakers prides itself in providing inventive, intelligent work for young people that entertains, engages, and seeds creative and inventive thought processes.

Currently, Treehouse Shakers has six original performances for young audiences on a rotating tour across the nation including: Animal Rhythms: Two African Folktales, Desert Travels: Tales From the Middle EastCoyote’s Dance: Tales from the American Indian and Let’s Talk About IT!, a piece for teens. Animal Rhythms introduces audiences to rhythm, modern dance and theater through the power and culture of West African folklore. Desert Travels gives young audiences a mesmerizing taste of life in the Middle East by portraying the sights, sounds and stories of a remarkable culture. Coyote’s Dance follows Coyote, who is both clown and teacher, on a humorous journey of deceit and adventure. Let’s Talk About IT! incorporates the vocabulary of dance, world folklore, real-life stories, and video interviews of everyday teens. Hatched is for the youngest viewers ages 0-6, about baby animals and their life on the farm. We want this experience to begin their relationship to the theater, imagination, and artistic expression. Our newest piece, Under the Tangle, is a dance-mystery for ages 8+, and follows a young girl’s adventures through a mysterious labyrinth.

Treehouse Shakers’ work has been praised by Laurel Graeber in the New York Times, and featured in New York Magazine, Time Out Kids, New York 1’s Parenting Report, Fox-5 TV, CBS, Village Voice, The Sun, New York Post, and The Daily News, among many others. Bunning and McEwin have been interviewed numerous times including; Beyond Stephens, In the Land of Cleave, and by the online publications’ New York Cool and Small World Productions for their collaborative work. Their young audience work has received funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, The Edith Luytens and Norman Bel Geddes Fund, Nancy Quinn Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Community’s Fund for Creative Communities and Manhattan Community Arts Fund, The Puffin Foundation, Ltd., Meet the Composers, BOCES, Rosenthal Foundation, and the Wyoming Arts Council. Some highlighted past venues include: BMCC’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center (NYC), Flushing Town Hall (NYC), Symphony Space (NYC), Black Rock Center for The Arts (Germantown, MD), RVCC Arts Center (Raritan, NJ), Two River Theater (NJ) United Nations (NYC), The Peter Jay Sharp Theater (NYC), The Ailey Citigroup Theater (NYC), Alden Theater (McLean, VA), Aronoff Center (Cincinnati, OH), Victoria Theatre Association (Dayton, OH), Paramount Theater (Peekskill, NY), Westhampton Beach Playhouse (L.I., NY), Tribeca Film Festival (NYC), Jacob’s Pillow’s Community Day (Becket, MA) and World of Nations’ Festival (Jacksonville, FL).

Treehouse Shakers’ adult pieces include; Dance of My Daughter, He, She and The Way You Kissed, Touching Illusions, Outside of Kissing Rock, Under Covers, and Lost Arroyos. Rebecca Longworth of On and Off Broadway Review wrote about Outside of Kissing Rock, “It is an emotionally intimate but accessible piece created by artists who clearly cherish the fullness of their hybrid medium as well as their own friendship and collaboration.” In 2007 Treehouse Shakers’ premiered Lost Arroyos at HERE Arts Center, NYC. Lost Arroyos follows several characters as they explore class struggles, race boundaries and blurred identities woven within the American cultural tapestry.