Adams Company Dance reached year twenty-seven! Each year breeds some form of artistry made manifest by the superb dancers that have joined into the weave of my choreographic fabric. Reflecting on the masterful work of so many dancers that have worked with me, and the talented photographers that have captured the beautiful moments of my work, I’ve been lucky to have a gallery of images to remind me of our special times together. This upcoming Fall season, we look forward to launching ACD’s combined event with Peace Community Chapel’s coat drive. Stay tuned to our announcements on that! In the meantime, enjoy a small sampling of beauty of these artists below…
To Dance Is To Be Human
Dancers: Chris Jackson, James A. Pierce III, Ryan Schmidt, Milan Misko, Catherine Barrone, Julie Fiorenza, Sarah Wiechman, Heidi Sutherland, Annie Heinemann.
Feature photo: Claire Hancock, Paulo Gutierrez
Photographers: (top to bottom) – Cathryn Lundgren, Jack Martin, Judy Lieff,
Bill H., Amelia Golden. Feature photo: Noel Valero
A whirlwind of energy propelled our day on August 30th, at The Secret Theatre in Queens, NY, where seven dancers came together to stir up another one of Adams Company Dance’s Jiffy-Mix creations! This event was coined as our ACD Summerstock Fundraiser, in association with Peace Community Chapel (PCC). Using my Jiffy Mix model (short time-framed dance making, in an effort to reduce production costs, yet a chance to give dancers an opportunity to work), dancers are utilized for their talents, given a paycheck, and an opportunity to perform a new work that is professionally videotaped in front of a live audience. We were thrilled to have reached our goal and then some, through GoFundMe!
50% of the donations went toward ACD’s “Keep Dancers Working” Jiffy-Mix project; and the other 50% of the donations ACD donated to Peace Community Chapel’s “Summer Stock” Fund Raiser, which aided in putting food in the bellies of the homeless by helping to stock food pantry shelves in CT & NYC-based food pantries. A win-win for all involved!
Back to the theater… we aimed at starting at 1:00p and ending at 4:00p, but by the time we loaded in and got started, it really was about 1:20 or so. Yikes! I had a self-imposed goal of creating an 8:00 minute piece in about two and a half hours -how was I going to do that when I just lost so much time?
Well, with inspiring music and eager, talented dancers ready and willing, I was able to light a match under my butt and away we went. I really had little clue as to what I was going to do. In fact, I only really had the opening sequence, where I was hoping to set a tone, but from there, I was flying by the seat of my pants. It’s daring and exciting to be in this circus-like atmosphere, where we’re walking a tightrope without a net. I had themes in my head swirling around about disjointed dreams, iconic retro-style images from the 40’s and 50’s, a temptress-like woman who seduces the characters in her dreams, and yet becomes a lost dreamer–all seemingly poignant, child-like and slightly mad all at the same time. Stuff comes out when you’re put in a dark, steamy theater, complete with Grecian columns teetering on the edge of falling down at any moment. In fact, during the taping one of the columns did fall! How apropos! Nothing is firm, or steady around my process. It’s a risky, scrappy, undertaking of organized chaos–Jiffy-Mixes tend to be that way. I’ve grown to allow for the unrehearsed product that comes out just the way it’s supposed to be — a batter coming together with all the right ingredients to make up a quick batch of irregular dance muffins. How imperfectly perfect!
Dream Spell ended up being created and performed twice in front of a live audience all within our time frame allotted. Not only did we capture it on tape, but we also have a film being made about the process of the day. I sat with my editor and sorted through all the footage the next week until our dream landscape came to be a finished piece. Taking a step back and actually really watching what I had created, I was taken by the dancers abilities to throw themselves into the material — movement I threw at them! I honor them with all my heart, and value the day that passed like a blink of an eye. My dreams came true to reach our goals, but then again… I always knew that dreams do not solely consist of illusions!
June 28th was the perfect day for a Master Class at Ripley-Grier. It was one of those sunny hot days in late June where you either want to be at the beach, or in a steamy hot dance class. That’s when we as dancers can move our best–when our muscles are malleable, and kicking our legs up high is not really a problem. Other seasons we need a bit more warming up, but during this class, during this Summer season, all bodies were sufficiently heated up, where the sweat was beading off the many faces attending, and all dance attire was completely soaked by the end of the class. These dancers were not faint of heart. They worked hard and displayed a high level of confidence and talent as they dug into my technique and combinations.
Typically, I don’t hold auditions, as I feel that dancers don’t do their best under pressure, so I look for new dancers in performances, class or most commonly, I go on a recommendation. Holding my Master Class allowed me to invite a wide variety of dancers, and not only look for new talent, but also bestow what I feel is so important these days in the realm of knowing a higher potentiality with dance and self-care. This seems not to be talked about in most classes in our current climate.
I was honored to have William Ruiz to accompany our class. Somewhere in my past travels in the subway, I heard William playing and grabbed his business card. Thankfully, I was able to find it in my wallet and called him to ask about playing for my class. Luckily he was available, and we immediately were speaking the same language. Pulling out all the stops, he effortlessly went from his Conga drum to his tongue drum, all the while blending his ankle bells into the music. William supported my combinations with exciting rhythms and the dancers really enjoyed the synergy of the class!
I loved seeing the transformation of the dancers within our short two hours. Once you give them an allowance to be themselves — to take risks and fall down if you have to — you really see them rise to another level of their craft! I look forward to our next time together, sweating it out and sharing our bliss of dance and music!
The bonus of the day was finding out that Ripley-Grier will be taking over the DANY studios up the street! How did I find that out? I ran into Stas that day, the studio’s right hand-man. After a big reunion hug, he asked if I wanted to say “hi” to Butch, the studio’s owner. “Of course,” I replied, and happily accompanied him to his office. “It’s been too long,” we both said. After two-plus decades of renting from them, I got to know Butch, and always valued his kindness and keen entrepreneurial ways. NYC would not be the same without him. He shared pictures of his daughter’s graduation, which blew me away, as I remember her back when she was just a toddler. Time flies when you’re having fun dancing all these years! He pointed out the window and explained that he took over the DANY… “See the sign? Coming soon?” Oh wow! I was thrilled to know someone of such high caliber took over that iconic space which has been a New York treasure for many years. With all the spaces closing in NYC, it’s nice to know there’s a decent takeover happening — the likes of which will keep dancers sweating for many generations to come!
After 25 years of making dances depicting the human condition, relationships and the comically absurd, this year allowed me to look back and honor the dancers, the dances, and the archives of Adams Company Dance through the ages. What a gift to have been able to do the work I have been doing for all these years! I surely could’ve given up many times when the going got rough. I recently told a former student, who just started her own company, that the key to success is tenacity. It’s not all about talent or luck in this field, but it is about how well you can stick to it when the odds are against you. Balancing it all has been a challenge, but passion always trumps — oh dear, there’s that word… Talk about challenges we faced this year, and one can only imagine what is to come with this guy in office. Ughh!
Through trials and tribulations on both a personal and global scale, I marched through 2016, with a bit of a ball and chain feeling I was dragging around. However, I know I was not the only one. My steadfast and stalwart rehearsal studio, ” The DANY,” closed their doors from the weight and pressure of the economy. Oh no! Thank God for trials though, as that is the stuff of creativity and art — but c’mon — enough already, 2016! I chose to celebrate my dancers, however. They are the committed ones that came through the muck and mire of their own personal trials, and like the phoenix rising from the ashes, they helped navigate through, using their ultra-talented gifts to fuel our choreographic endeavors. I owe everything to them! Take a look here at their beauty in motion!
Most fondly, I will remember the dancers who showed up this year and performed in and attended our events — a reunion of my saints — who marched in some way, for some part, through these dance fields for the past twenty-five years, all who contributed to the essence of ACD; and, just like the postmen — through rain, sleet, snow, and hail — they delivered, no matter the weather… and that’s tenacity!
Friday, October 14th, 2016 at 7:30p
Venue: The Bryant Park Hotel Screening Room
Location: 40 West 40th Street
New York , NY, 10018
Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director and Choreographer of Adams Company Dance, will present “Behind the Lens,” a 90 minute film screening of her award-winning documentary, “Except At Night: The Making Of A Dance,” and a compendium of short dance films. From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Adams and filmmakers Amelia Golden and Benjamin Moss, weave dancers into their unique settings to create film shorts that are visually stunning, whimsical and emotionally stirring. ACD is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!
This event is in collaboration with Peace Community Chapel’s annual coat drive for the homeless. Your tax-deductible donation will go toward this year’s goal of 100 new coats.
Prior to the screening, acclaimed author and dance/theater critic, Dr. Glenn Loney, will be honored with a lifetime achievement award for his many accomplishments.
Adams Company Dance Screening at:
40 West 40th Street
New York , NY, 10018
203-829-4767 (for more info)
In an attempt to overcome my deep emotions over the loss of my mother, I choreographed a solo entitled, “Mother’s Day,” circa, 1998. It took me three years and six months, after my mother’s death in 1994, to be able to get my legs under me enough so I could go back into the studio just for me. It’s easy to work with others, but putting myself into the ring with my shadowy self, was like walking into a dark alley, facing the fear that I might be accosted, or trip on a crack and fall unconscious. So, that time came and went, and I am still alive to tell about it. Phfeww!
As all artists draw upon their pain and suffering to create their art, I, too, was going to revel in my psychological pathos, and use the tools I had, to be responsive to what was lurking deep within me. I had a red chair. That was my tool. It was after my Mom told me that she had a dream that she saw me on a chair, dancing on a stage, that I found it. That was just before she died that she told me that dream. I, in turn, told her the dream I had. It was a dream that she died. She said, “sometimes dreams of death are not always about the person dying.” However, Mom, that dream was a prophetic, and so was yours.
I used my Mom’s and my dream as part of the narrative of my piece. It turned out to be more of a theatrical dance, rather than a “dance-y dance,” and it just seemed to pour out of me. It was just before Mother’s Day in May, when I premiered this solo at the Cunningham Dance Studio, back when Merce was still alive. Backstage, against a dusty, dirty wall, I placed a picture of my mother, took a deep breath, and walked out onto the stage to perform. I felt her presence with me on the dance floor, stirring me to tears.
So, now May 2016, with all cobwebs cleared away from the past, I can engage fully with my mother at any given moment. Though I have no children, I have felt like a mother for most of my life. The joy of functioning as a nurturer has brought enriching experiences into my life, and has even allowed me to help when one of my dancers lost her own mother. The hurt and broken places, within many of the dancers that have worked with me, has opened doors to healing while we have been in the creative process together. Sharing this closeness, through which transformation has always been the result, is what makes me continue to want to create. Without a mother’s love, there’s no telling what might appear in your dreams. Happy Mother’s Day!
Having duende is a rare gift as a dancer, and if you’ve ever experienced laying your eyes on a dancer who has it, you’ve surely had your socks knocked off! Claire Hancock has duende, or a soulful, heightened state of emotion, different from your average performer who may be good technically, but is just missing that extra something. If you’ve ever seen a good Flamenco dancer, you’ve seen duende in action. Claire makes you yearn for more after you’ve seen her dance. Her lines, grace and technique are obviously eye catching, but then there’s that plunging into the energetic force within her that makes your hair stand on end. She’s simply one of my favorite dancers, and I was so happy to jump into the studio with her, for a couple of short days in New York this Fall, while she was visiting.
I’ve known Claire since she was seven years old, and now she’s a mature artist, making her mark in the dance world as a dancer and talented choreographer, with her own dance company. When I first met Claire, her parents were my teachers at the University of Arizona. Claire would sit backstage and watch as we all danced around her, but somehow she felt like one of us, and we all welcomed her into our big, happy dance family. I saw her mom and dad, Melissa Lowe and Jory Hancock, perform frequently, and they never failed to blow me away. I also had several occasions to dance with them, lucky as I was, and each time was an energetic high, that to this day, I’ve never quite experienced — so, I guess it’s fair to say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Back to NYC, where Claire was using a natural GPS, leading her to experience just about every good thing that New York had to offer, and not just dance. Indulging in every aspect of arts and culture contributes to the educated artist that she is. She comes and goes, but each time she digs her heels in a little bit deeper. I found her visiting in September, and the timing was right for us to embark on one of my “Jiffy-Mixes.” Time was of essence, as she was soon to leave, but in only two short rehearsals, we whipped together “Drift, “ a dance conveying the idea of transitions in life, and how they inspire putting us in a new places and new directions. I asked her tune into her senses and write about what she was experiencing during our short process together — and we used that text to set the tone. Drift was caught in the raw at the Baryshnikov Arts Center– Misha was in the next room rehearsing — the sun was shining through the big windows, and I was in my ultimate delight — drifting into a deep, emotional place, as I witnessed the best that Fall had to offer.
Maslow would be proud of me if he knew that I was highlighting the lowest level of his pyramid in a dance! If we didn’t have the handicap of always focusing on how to afford food and shelter, just think how much more we could do for the world. In this dance I used an umbrella and a large, red cloth to depict money, power and greed. Annie had a silver, sequined pair of honkin’ high heels that I had to use (oh no, I think I have a shoe fetish)! A pair of gold lamé gloves found their way into my dance bag, so she wore those, too. Hmm… silver and gold!
This event at the Secret Theater in Queens happened on July 10th from 6:30-9:30 pm. I had 3 hours to make a 9 minute 28 second piece. It happened in 2 hours and 9 minutes when it was all said and done, however. My inspiration was this picture that hangs on my office wall of people running for shelter under an umbrella.
Nicole Renaud, an amazing French composer/accordian player was so gracious to allow me to use her music, and in fact, was delighted to have me choreograph to her work.
I must have been in labor because I only had a few phrases to show the dancers, and the rest just came with a few pushes. We ran the piece twice at the end with videographer, Marie Le Claire raring to go. Also, young film maker Amelia Golden, was present the whole time with the task of making a new film of the experience. With all lenses in focus, the the dancers sweat like there was no tomorrow and a new piece was born!
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do this, which also served as a farewell, but not goodbye to Ryan Schmidt and Julie Fiorenza–both who will be moving out of NYC at the end of the summer. So sad to see them leave, but life is calling them to new pastures.
After a fun corner-diner experience with the group, I had time to think about the upper levels of the pyramid on my commute back home: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts–seems I attained that level in a quick 2 hours and 9 minutes–enough time to make me forget that rent was due!