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ARENA Dances

Mathew Janczewski's ARENA DANCES is an internationally recognized contemporary dance company founded in 1996 by Mathew Janczewski in the Twin Cities. Over the course of 23 years and over 30 performance works, ARENA DANCES has engaged with audiences through the world to promote community gathering, dialogue and diversity. ARENA has toured extensively throughout the US, and internationally the company has taught and performed at the 2007 and 2013 Open Look International Summer Dance Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the 3rd TOUCH Festival in Arkanghelsk, Russia, and the L1 Dance Festival in Budapest, Hungary. 

Regionally, ARENA reaches audiences with performances, DanceON school residencies, curated festivals and outreach opportunities. Janczewski has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center and created choreography for numerous area dance companies, high schools, colleges and universities. Janczewski’s work has been the recipient of a Sage Award (2005), Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” (2008), and received support from The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, McKnight Foundation, Target Foundation, Archie D. & Bertha H. Walker Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, The National Dance Project, The Spanish Embassy of American Universities, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the MN State Arts Board.

Mathew Janczewski’s choreography is beloved for its elegant construction, formal intelligence, and lush grace. In the most classical sense, his work is beautiful.

– Star Tribune


Hold My Hand is a new work that struggles with the prevalence of gun violence in the US and features ARENA company members along with students from the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Created in collaboration with Minnesota-based choral composer and 2018 McKnight Fellow Joshua Clausen and the imPulse Choir, Clausen’s new choir work, Requiem, was inspired by the data sonification of Sophie Chou, who collected mass shooting statistics in the US - translating that information to a score for piano -  letting listeners hear the frequency, and the impact, of such incidents. Hold My Hand premiered at The Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN on November 10, 2018.

As part of this work, ARENA is reaching out to provide a platform for discussion by partnering with March for our Lives and Everytown for Gun Safety to facilitate round table discussions and provide additional information on gun violence and prevention in communities in which they tour.

RUN with me

Run With Me, a quartet of immense physicality that battles through that finding of another to walk/run alongside, to have or to have not be with through thick or thin. Trust and compassion to understand- “Just take my hand. Run with me.”

Choreography: Mathew Janczewski; Music: Lhasa; Lighting Design: Heidi Eckwall; Costumes: Angie Vo; Four dancers, run time: 15 minutes

His [Janczewksi’s] dances soar, tumble, float, writhe. He knows how to put bodies together, how to create shapes that twist and decay before the viewer has quite figured them out, leaving echoes of connection in the air.Lightsey Darst, Mpls/StPaul Magazine

[about Run With Me] Headlocks, faux fist fights, and disciplined thrashing are submerged in Janczewski’s soft, flowing choreography and evocative stage pictures, such as when the women, backs arched on the floor, lie bathed in rectangles of light. – Camille LeFevre, Dance Magazine


Threshold, first premiered in 2010 with a cast of all women and has since been performed with a cast of men and women. This Fall 2018 performance returns to its beginnings with a cast of 6 women. I feel this is a timely work once again drawing attention to Female need for equality. The inspiration of Threshold came out of the idea of the space between entering and leaving, as if in the middle of a doorway, you have not quite left the other room/experience and the possibility of the future is in sight, but not quite yet there. This is a cry out to be EQUAL.

Choreography: Mathew Janczewski; Music: Belle Orchestre, Massive Attack, Murcof, Susuma Yokata; Lighting Design: Heidi Eckwall; Costumes: Sonya Berlovitz; Six dancers, run time: approx. 16 minutes

The entire ensemble flows with dramatic lines, grace and intimacy that is at once energetic and tender….. In execution, it feels fresh throughout; in imagery, it is at times mesmerizing. – Graydon Royce, Star Tribune.

The Architect

The Architect, an evening length solo for long-time ARENA dancer Timmy Wagner. It is an intimate exploration of the beginnings of a creative idea and the playful process of completing that creation. The idiosyncratic and intricate movement will be heightened with an interactive set design by fabric artist Margarita Jane Arguedas and dramaturgical support by Rachel Jendrzejewski.

The Architect draws from the collaborative work of these specific artists, exploring real time processes and the questions that arise: “Where did this or that idea come from? How has one’s own journey or interpretation revealed itself?”