Daena’s passions for improvisation and self-scripting have shaped her vision and approach as an actor, director, teacher and acting coach for over thirty years. Her directing credits include many professional theater and university productions, and she has also directed numerous actors and singers in the development of material for original solo and ensemble performances. She has created an innovative method for helping actors cultivate their unique creative process by using improvisational acting techniques to create dynamic characters and story ideas for theatre, film, and audio projects. In addition to working with actors, Daena has directed many dancers, solo musicians, and musical groups in their performances and stage presence, and she coaches writers in the creation of fiction and memoir projects.
At Theater Workshop Boston, Daena directed Equinox by James Grant and Guests of My Life, based on Elizabeth Watson’s book (same title). She also directed the Loon and Heron Theatre’s touring show Prince of the Dolomites, which integrated sign language and a diverse cast of differently-abled actors.
Daena was a faculty member in the theatre departments at Emerson College and Boston Conservatory where she taught acting, improvisation, and acting for musical theatre. She co-directed Still Life (with Bobbi Ausubel) at Boston Conservatory and she directed Hair at Emerson College’s YouthTheatre as well as numerous original productions.
She was the Drama Director at Roxbury High School under a grant from Harvard University where she directed at-risk students in the creation of original plays as well as adaptations of the popular musical The Wiz and playwright Jon Lipsky’s comedy Class. Daena also directed numerous theater productions in over fifteen Massachusetts school systems through programs designed to promote cultural diversity awareness and performing arts training for students at both urban and suburban settings.
Daena directed a theater piece for Babson College entitled “We Have It, Do You?” which illustrated themes of Transcultural Leadership and she was invited in 2009 to be a presentation judge for Babson College’s Creative Thinking Prize.
Daena’s artistic collaboration with Wren Ross spans nearly two decades and during that time she directed many of Wren’s cabaret theater performances, including A Musical Feast at the Cambridge Blacksmith House, Unexpected Song at Club Café, Then and Now for the Starr Gallery and Jewish Women’s Archives, and Kabarett at Boston College.
Daena’s acting performances have garnered kudos across the USA and abroad. She directed many of her own original one-woman theatre productions, including Moment to Moment and Bare Essentials, and she co-directed her one-woman productions of Play! Balancing Acts, Opposites, Y2K Cabaret, Now What, and What Can I Say? with Wren Ross and Yes to Everything with Bobbi Ausubel.
The Boston Globe has called her an "impressive talent" and the Boston Herald described her as "a talented and gifted actress." The Boston Phoenix said she is “an enormously talented performer/improviser with a dancer's agility and a blues belter's larynx...her characters have heft and the advantage of surprise.”
Along with Wren Ross, she produced, directed and performed in the Taos New Mexico 2002 commemorative event One Year Later…Taos Remembers Sept 11, which incorporated theatre, music, visual arts and monologues by community members whose loved ones were personally affected by the tragedy. She also co-produced and co-directed Voices Of Taos, an Oral History Radio Project broadcast on New Mexico’s KTAO radio–the largest solar radio station in the world. Voices of Taos featured dozens of interviews with members of the Native American, Hispanic and Anglo communities. She also teamed up with partner Wren Ross to write, produce and direct numerous commercials for radio stations in Northern New Mexico.
Daena’s background in radio includes her work as a news & weather announcer at KSFQ in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she also produced and recorded commercials. She has hosted several radio programs, including Currents, a talk radio show on the National Radio Network and Theatre of the Musical Mind at WBRS, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Daena has recorded commercials, narrations, animations, and videos, for numerous clients including Citibank, WGBH TV, WCVB TV, Health New England, Fidelity, IMC, Jiffy Lube, Garelick Farms, U.S. Dept of Navy, Sheraton, Tom Snyder Productions and Millipore, and she is a member of AFTRA.
Daena’s method for teaching improvisational acting training has attracted a wide following and she has taught hundreds of improvisational acting workshops for people from virtually every profession. Her workshops have helped stimulate a thriving improvisation community in the Boston area and spawned many improv troops. She has given diversity and anti-bullying workshops for teachers and students in many educational settings, including the New Mexico Human Rights Foundation.
Daena also works as an organizational leadership consultant. Many world-class companies have tapped Daena as an executive leadership coach and keynote speaker. She designs professional training and educational programs that target leadership, negotiation, entrepreneurship, team building, creativity development, and presentation excellence. She is frequently invited as a motivational speaker and humorist to give presentations and performances for corporate conferences, organizational programs, and academic events.
She currently teaches Improvisational Leadership at MIT Sloan School of Management and she also led an advanced training in Negotiation Improvisation for the European Commission in collaboration with Harvard Law faculty.
Daena has co-authored a book with Wren Ross called, Changing Patterns: Discovering the Fabric of Your Creativity, which explores the creative process as a tool for self-development and change. Her spoken word CD entitled Improvisation in Everyday Life discusses the application of improvisation skills for professional and personal settings.
Visit Daena’s web site at http://www.daenagiardella.com to check out her Podcast & Blog, DaenaTalk, and learn more about her performances, workshops and consulting work.
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For more information call 617.924.9596 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.