My featured image is of my post-production mess from our film project on July 20th in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts — a three hour project to channel my pent-up emotions regarding the Trump administration. In my Jiffy-Mix style, we whipped up a menu of choreography, images, acting, and site specific Godspell-ish meanderings. Satirically driven, the footage we shot will be made into a film short that at the very least, will let out a little steam that’s been building within. It won’t be Michael Moore in its breadth and scope, but will hint at the very things he and everyone else has been vocalizing about regarding the inane events of our day. We’re in a freefall, so while falling, I thought I’d take an afternoon to catch up with my artist-side. Four dancers came together, along with Joel Stephen, our camerman/filmmaker, and Don Adams, our line producer, to make a hot day a littler cooler! More on this project soon!
My messy notes
Dancers: Annie Heinemann, Paulo Gutierrez, Jeremy Neal, Heidi Sutherland
Adams Company Dance Performing on June 30th at KoDaFe in NYC, 7:30pm at the AILEY CITIGROUP THEATER!
An international dance festival held each summer by iKADA Contemporary Dance Company, KoDaFe in NYC brings together dancers from all over the world to connect through movement. Their shows are both Friday, June 29th & Saturday, June 30th. Catch Heidi on Saturday night’s bill! Artistic director, Mee Jung, who pioneered this festival, brings her own beautiful company to the stage, and shares it with a diverse group of companies, who are sure to delight!
Heidi Sutherland performs with ACD in, “It’s Easy to Drown,”a new solo inspired by the delicate nature of the human spirit and how easy it is to drown in life, yet resolves to achieve hope and strength to overcome. Heidi is an accomplished dancer who works with Synthesis DANCE. I was lucky to have found her last summer, 2017, including her in several projects since then. I can’t say enough about Heidi’s fierce bundle of talent, and vibrancy for dance! Hope you can make it! Go HEREfor tix!
A new dance emerged in my Jiffy-Mix style in the chilly month of February — a month that typically has me searching under the snow and hard ground for fertile ideas. Heidi Sutherland was willing and able to join me for what was to become a gem of a solo. We started it in a very tiny studio at Ripley Grier on 8th Avenue, where many-a-dance has been created. Within an hour and a half timespan, she sewed the movement into her skin and bones, and beautifully grew into what became part I, featuring emotional piano music by Pure Composition — btw, through a site I found that allows for a quick purchase of a music license. Part II started at Trisklelion Arts in Brooklyn on February 5th, where Heidi took her craft to a new level, with inspiring music by Tom Rosenthal. I came across Tom’s music while working out one day at the gym. A cool image showed up in my Vimeo feed and I clicked on it. I immediately started to move as I listened to the poignant lyrics, not caring if anyone might’ve caught me in between their grunts and lifts. A prolific songwriter/musician from the UK, Tom was kind to give me permission to use his piece. In another quick turn- around — about and hour or so — Heidi learned what I poured out with such alacrity, I felt she had been rehearsing the piece for a month!
Ok, time’s up!! In walks the videographer, Joel Stephen. Switch gears and start teching. Joel worked on Dream Spelland Ebb and Flow, and was thankfully available for this project. His eye for detail and top-notch camera work, allowed for smooth operations from camera’s rolling to the final credits. His laser focus instilled a great confidence in me. I set the lighting quickly, had one dry-run, and voilà — a dance was born! With three takes, each having a wide and close-up version, there was much footage to sift through. Heidi was a trooper and kept up such an athletic pace, I hardly could believe she made it through three run-throughs, each one dancing more vigorously than the next. That’s a true professional, and I am so grateful to her quick-study commitment to all the movement, and her passion to perform! She nailed it for the camera, and danced the story of triumphing over adversity — the story I keep telling over and over, ad nauseam!!
After a four hour editing session, Joel and I came to our final mix. What a breeze! LOL!! It’s the intricate work of editing that’s far from Jiffy-Mixing. Not bad timing, though, for all that we had to do.
So, why is it easy to drown? Go figure. It’s all of our stories, right? Like that old afghan that lays on the back of the couch, we’ve all sewn in our patches of hardships over the years to create our tapestry. Somehow, it soulfully keeps us warm and reminds us of where we’ve been… and just how lucky we are to still be able to pull it over our shoulders on a cold night in the winter. It’s easy to drown in pain, sorrow, debt, and tears, and I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve swum up to the crest of the wave, only to be swept away again. Each time the hanging out to dry process seems to get shorter and shorter with every passing year, but the distance to the water, where we might slip in… remains a close cousin — it’s easy to drown, but relative to our inner-strength, we become consummate swimmers in the waters of life.
(While writing this blog, I learned that Heidi’s dog, Gizmo, passed away. May she rest in peace and float forever in God’s love — oh and did I forget the mention the car accident that my husband and I were in this week? We’re in one piece, but the car was totaled. #5 not our fault on I-95 in the past 10 years — it’s easy to drown and this was one of the easy stories!)
There’s a fine veil between our physical and spiritual lives. Much of what is created in the studio is a product of what, I believe, is being downloaded from a higher source. From the rough, scrappy Jiffy-Mixes I create, to the finer works that have had time to age a bit, the process of allowing movement to come through me without too much deliberation has been my joy as a choreographer. 2017’s political climate wrestled with my spirit– I know I’m not alone here! As with most artists, I took to the studio and used the deep feelings from within to mix-up a variety of movement, inspired by our country’s state of conflict.
The timing of the year was filled with fits and starts. With many obstacles hitting me outside of my dance life, it was a slow start to organize events. Honoring my qualitative time with dance has become more important than quantity, so taking my time was part of the rhythm. The quality of dancers I used this year, some new and some veterans, sparked new frequencies of energy that started after my June Master Class. Not only did I love the experience teaching at Ripley Grier Studios, but I was so thrilled to have had a live accompanist, William Ruiz, to lead us through the hot, sweaty, rhythmic class — a high time for me, and per the feedback, a high time for the dancers, too!
Dream Spell was a highlight for me in August, when in just two-hours-plus, we created another one for the archives in our Jiffy-Mix series. The dancers (several chosen from the Master Class), were so inspiring, and that process of higher- source downloading, definitely assisted me through the day! New artists also appeared that day with our videographer and filmmaker, juicing-up the energy in the room even more! Joel Stephens created a film about the process of our day, entitled, “Ebb and Flow.” With music by collaborating artist, Nicole Renaud, it was pure energy in motion, filmed with an eye for innovation. Our day together also raised $750 for Peace Community Chapel’s SummerStock Fund, where donations went to: Bridgeport Rescue Mission (Bridgeport); Beth-El Center (Milford); New Covenant Center (Stamford); and Food Bank For NYC. Thank you to all our donors!
“Willing to Catch” was a special time for me in the Fall, working with four amazing artists: Claire Hancock, Paulo Gutierrez, James A. Pierce, III, and Heidi Sutherland. The two couples, dancing the same duet, embodied the movement with their own distinct styles, delivering a story from the heart each time they took the stage. From our NYC CBG Fall Dance Festival performance, to the Temple University Alumni Dance Concert, the grace and strength these dancers conveyed, superseded my expectations! I was so proud of them, and so honored to have had amazing photographers involved with our events, who captured the essence of my work, and the deep level of the conviction and passion of the dancers. Thanks to Christian, Noel Valero, and Bill H, for their time and talents! It was a joy to be back on the old stomping grounds of Temple during my residency this Fall, teaching to a new crop of fresh and eager dancers, who seemed happy to spend time with an old vet!
The best thing about the picture of Claire looking through the veil in the picture at the top of this blog (taken during the making of Dream Spell), is that that veil was from my Masters’ Dance Concert, roughly thirty years ago. It was then that I knew about the process of creating coming from a higher source. That veil was used in a solo I choreographed about a woman looking back at her life, and seeing how she triumphed over adversity — the great story of our time, and the irony of this year. An insider’s view from behind the veil will tell you that it’s all just an illusion — nothing remains the same, and everything is always changing. 2017 was on its way to breaking our spirit, but somehow we triumphed, yet again… we kept the issues of the day at bay, and let the spirit pour through us, washing away all that tainted the American landscape, and all the muck that got caught in our spiritual veils. Alas, we put the year to rest, and allow for 2018 to download all the goodness it has to offer! Happy New Year! And thanks to all the artists who contributed this year, and to all the ACD supporters!
Autumn started on a busy note as two back-to-back weekends of dance loaded my schedule, but lightened my heart! With 26 years under my belt with Adams Company Dance, I still approach each project with the eagerness of a kid learning to ride a bike for the first time. Nothing ever feels mundane once I enter the studio and see the essence of beauty before me in each dancer.
Two teams of dancers made it possible to perform “Willing to Catch,” a new work which began in August, for both the CBG Fall Dance Festival in Soho, September 30th and October 1st, followed by the Temple University Alumni Dance Concert on October 6th and 7th. Dancers Claire Hancock, (a dancer whom I’ve known since she was seven!!) who coupled with Paulo Gutierrez ( a dancer who attended my Master Class in June); and James A. Pierce, III (longtime dancer with ACD), who coupled with Heidi Sutherland (another dancer who attended my Master Class)– took on the new piece with vim and vigor!
Talent pushed the boundaries with these duets, and with James also dancing the solo “Avec Moi,” at Temple– I think we hit a flush! The concerts gave a platform for the dancers to rise to new levels of grace, beauty and strength, and I am so happy to be able to have those qualities in perpetuity, with the wonderful images from each of the shows! See our albums below here:
Heidi Sutherland and James A. Pierce, III take the stage this weekend at Temple University’s Conwell Hall. They will perform a new duet, “Willing to Catch,” and James will perform a solo, “Avec Moi.” Alums from the Temple dance department are joining forces for these two performances, which are sure to delight!