Drinks up! Pause and Reflect!

2013 was a wild one, but I know I am not alone here in thinking that. If we can say that we put on ballet slippers and got to the barre, then we are well deserving of a drink. In this political climate of unrest and economic uncertainty, we as artists have to pause, and allow ourselves some space and time to reflect on what once was easy to do. With dancers being injured, and workloads lightening up due to lack of jobs, then just a long barre is sometimes very satisfying in the scheme of things. So, if you are wondering where you are as a dancer, keep yourself front and center, as the back of the room simply won’t do, and it ain’t over yet, ok kids? These are my sentiments as I witnessed too many dancers down on their luck this year. Remember, “you’re still a contenda…”

Grab who you can when you can, and just start something before you miss out on opportunity. Dancers could be moving away, injured, or even getting married, so hurry up and enlist their talents before it’s too late. I started out 2013 in a new way by deciding to make a film short– not a film about the process of making a dance, but a film in and of itself. A Dress in the Stream,  was made in a day of inspiration and risk taking. I loved the process of relying on instinct, and the talents of Amelia Golden, my videographer/filmmaker, and my dancer, Annie Heinemann, to take me to uncharted territory. Annie was soon to begin a new, full-time dance teaching job, so time was of the essence. Grab her now before she gets too busy (she also became a new Mom!). Thank God for a paycheck and the benes! Annie proved to be the delightful diva of my dance imagination. The shoreline of CT and the indoor shots from the sleek dance studio in Guilford, were the perfect mix of elements for our innovative film. Take a look again here if you haven’t seen it.

Next up was Julie Fiorenza, recreating the solo I set on her about her adoption from Korea, My Room.  A Korean Dance Festival to present this most personal solo?? How apropos!! Julie pulled her technique to a new level this year, as I watched in a pool of tears. She got some more mileage from this solo and I couldn’t be more proud of her. To Korea with love– another toast!

I found my greatest joy this year in a new CD, Winter Morning Walks. My dear friend, Maria Schneider, went to extreme heights to create this new masterpiece.  Three new pieces were born from this gem of a work, and I am so pleased to have been able to sink into the music. Dust Devil, danced by Ryan Schmidt, was a hot, little solo which morphed into a new short film, Playing Houseanother in collaboration with Amelia Golden at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. See if you can find the symbolism in her engagement in this piece!

The next of the pieces from Winter Morning Walks  were created at a residency at the Dragon’s Egg in Ledyard, CT. Barn Birds and Solstice Morning were made in one-long day’s worth of sweating. The heat of the summer resonated with me, I guess… and so we danced all day and left with two new works in our back pockets. Cheers to the dancers, So Jung Cheon, Chris Jackson, Milan Misko, and Ryan Schmidt. Our day in the woods, was one never to be forgotten. We set a film short about our day there (Amelia behind the lens again),  to an original piece by my colleague, Tamara Wilcox. Thanks to her special contribution, we can share with you, Woodland Aire. 

Alas, the conclusion of my year of choreographing came with our new duet, Trickle Down. With having lost a few good friends and family members this year, I can only say that there was influence from above to make this new piece. Milan Misko and his wife, Nana Tsuda Misko, took ownership of this touching new dance, made in a few short rehearsals– another Jiffy Mix! The two of them pulled the piece together with grace and strength. I will be toasting again to them when we premiere the piece in 2014.

Cheers to the dancers for their tenacity, hard work, and their kinetic sensibilities. I am so blessed to have seen them grow through the ages and take charge of their craft. Also, cheers to those who can say they didn’t work, but who are on the fringes awaiting their next move. It’s only because of all of us that art exists at all. And, last but not least, cheers to Cathryn Lundgren, my genius behind the lens. I thank her royally for her passionate vision and for the great promo reel she made for ACD this year.  So, drinks up…  pause and reflect on a year well spent!

A Dress In The Stream – Annie Heinemann A Dress In The Stream – Annie Heinemann
My Room – Julie Fiorenza Dust Devil – Ryan Schmidt
Dust Devil – Ryan Schmidt Dust Devil – Ryan Schmidt
Playing House – Ryan Schmidt Playing House – Ryan Schmidt
Playing House – Ryan Schmidt Dragon’s Egg
Ryan Schmidt, Chris Jackson Barn Birds
Barn Birds Barn Birds
Solstice Morning Solstice Morning
Solstice Morning Solstice Morning
Solstice Morning Trickle Down – Milan Misko & Nana Tsuda Misko
Trickle Down – Milan Misko & Nana Tsuda Misko Trickle Down – Milan Misko & Nana Tsuda Misko
Amelia Golden, filmmaker Cathryn Lundgren
Tamara Wilcox Composer  

A Dynamic Duo

Between the Baryshnikov Arts Center and the DANY, a new duet was created within a few rehearsals by a dynamic husband and wife team. Milan Misko is a tremendous force as a dancer, and you’ll surely recognize him from past works. His wife, Nana Tsuda Misko, is new to my process, but you could’ve fooled me. She was right there with every move and picked up very fast on my style. The two of them were so helpful in ironing out the kinks with the lifts, and were so resourceful in working out the minutiae of how to get from point A to point B. The nuts and bolts of the dance were hammered out in no time, but the real stuff of the piece was still simmering.

Trickle Down came from the idea of how we continue to march on in life, no matter how hard it gets. We are the great vessels from which our daily life’s laundry resides. There has been much loss in all of our lives, and especially this year with so many of us. We, as dancers, filter all this loss — from our recent history, to our ancestral ties — and as it continues to trickle down  into every fiber of our being, we find it necessary to express it in our movement. It seemed that we downloaded this idea into the blueprint of this work, realizing all its potential only when we were in the last minutes of our taping, just a couple weeks ago. It was a cold studio that last day at the DANY, and we were not altogether sweating, but the heat was rising, and the passion was growing. Alas, the final run-thrus were hot, and the dancers gave it their all.

I hope that you’ll take a peek into our gallery of pictures to see these two amazing dancers at work. Cathryn Lundgren blessed us with her presence again, utilizing all of her skills as a masterful dance photographer, as well as her keen eye behind the video camera. As for the final performance, stay tuned… you haven’t seen the last of this dynamic duo! It’s scheduled to — trickle down — soon.