This pandemic has us all needing to adjust and adapt to other ways of thinking and doing. If we can let go of our preconceived notions of normal, then we might just start to see life unfold in new and different ways, which could actually serve us. Resting, napping, cleaning clutter, and exercising have never felt so good. Folding laundry can be meditative if you can allow yourself to ponder the folds and textures of the fabrics. Same goes with editing remotely. I didn’t think I could do it with my editor, (Faith Marek), so well, but as it turns out — the slowed-down, nitty-gritty approach is making me focus more.
The film we shot in February came out of the can, finally! It’ll be laborious to work remotely, no doubt, but that requires more patience, and won’t that be a good lesson? Dancers have a built-in adaptation process. If they didn’t, they’d never survive the demands of the art, but adapting at home now, while no teacher or director is telling them what to do, will be the most challenging time for them. Self-discipline is the key to this make it through this time, and it is my wish for all dancers to keep taking class with great teachers out there remotely — at least in the meantime!
And, in the meantime, enjoy a few of these shots from our film shoot! Previews from coming attractions below:
It’s an unprecedented time in our world where announcements to isolate and social distance from one another is our new norm. In December 2019, I had three dreams foretelling about this time, complete with tales of assembly lines for vaccinations for a flu; food insecurity; and my work falling by the wayside. I was unconsciously prepared, just as with my dreams prior to 9/11, where the events that unfolded were described in my night vision. Turning back the calendar page to February 5th’s Jiffy-Mix film project, I was apparently channeling ideas that had been in those December dreams, unbeknownst to me. So much symbolism to follow.
Just last month, the project I did with five willing and able dancers who trained it up to Bridgeport, CT from the city, was apparently being channeled. Other than a few loose fragments of thoughts about how society needs to come together spiritually, I had no detailed pre-determined script of what I was about to do. From my research, I had found this incredible Victorian mansion in Bridgeport some months prior, where multiple businesses occupy the floors, but the upper floor literally floored me!
It’s a cavernous space with beautiful stained glass windows wrapping around the perimeter, with dazzling panoramic views, old wooden floors, and a dome-like structure in one corner that could be nothing other than a widow’s walk. The room is used for various events, including a church group that meets there on a semi-regular basis. “The Oysterman’s Pearl Studio,” is the name of the space, aptly termed after a wealthy oysterman who peddled oysters along the Northeast corridor back in the day. They made a killing with their trade, as the architecture of the room so richly displays. The space itself inspired the idea of spirituality, which I feel we embraced, but toward the middle part of my project that day, I had the dancers running and leaping while I shouted, “imagine you’re panicked about something,” — obviously the inspiration was not feeling spiritual then. We were even rehearsing to David Bowie’s piece Lazurus, from his last album Dark Star, which invokes the idea of death and perhaps dark nights of the soul. Weird, eh? There was a palpable feeling of fear in the air. Virus??
Then, at one point I had a dancer looking like he was dying, perhaps a little Jesus-y on-the-cross– feeling, but he was laying on the ground, (not on a cross), writhing and contorting, until the other dancers finally came to him and made human connection. Hmmm– front-line emergency workers? At another point I had all the dancers looking out the window, stretching their hands and arms upward on the stained glass windows, as if to look like they were stuck inside and couldn’t go out. Social distancing?
Wildly symbolic of a pandemic, the material on the camera was downloaded to a corrupt harddrive. What?? I was about to begin editing with my editor extraordinaire, Faith Marek, just a couple short weeks after our shoot, when we encountered a glitch that disallowed us to see any of the footage she had shot. COVID-19 had corrupted the harddrive? Wait, and that’s not all. So, the harddrive was sent to CA to a harddrive retrieval business, where they gave her an astronomical estimate for the work. As her personal files were also on that harddrive, she had to bite the bullet and get the job done. After weeks of not knowing anything, I finally found out that my project had been saved, but my editor’s files were not scanned properly… more symbolism (?) — some people are spared by the virus, and some don’t make it.
This “art imitating life” reality is really quite amazing. At the moment in time I found out my work was spared, we had already started to isolate from one another, so with the inability to get together physically with my editor, my work was temporarily put on hold. I suppose I could work remotely, but I’m reluctant to succumb to that method, being I’m such a hands-on person… whah, whah — I’m not liking all this virtual do-it-on-Zoom stuff. Put on hold is the new way of life now. My business is that way, as with everyone else who is a non-essential, self-employed person — so what now?
A loaded question, right? Perhaps we need to return to the symbolism of “The Oysterman’s Pearl Studio,” with the panoramic, stained glass windows, for The answers: We have all around us the comforts of Mother Nature, with all her colors of the rainbow stretching before us like a kaleidoscope of hope in the darkness of the night. And, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no fever, for thou art with me thy rod and art they comfort me…
Mother Nature is probably giving us a big kick in the pants charging us to love one another, and develop more unity within the world. She got too hot with global warming and needed us to STOP everything. “I’ll give you this virus so you can re-think, reconfigure, and re-establish what your real goals should be moving forward.” Aren’t we all called to do that now? I’m thinking, yes. And, one thing on my list is crafting a new short-film from all this footage from February 5th. Btw, that’s my birthday — hmmmm… symbolic?
2019 was a blend of old and new coming together to flesh out what became a year to remember. Going Solo was a gem of a concert, and occasion to dig out my past and add some new works to the mix, as well. Brooklyn’s Triskelion Arts was the perfect theater for the six, sizzling dancers that burned up the stage that magical night in May. Interspersing my short solo-based dance films seemed to be appropriate for the menu that night. I felt so in awe of the dancers who went above and beyond that remarkable evening!
I had so many energetic movers attend that day, but found a small crew that ended up in my film shoot which took place in Brooklyn later that month back at Triskelion Arts. With the help of my tech and film crew, we managed to get a lot of footage in the can that day — and then added later, another film shoot with soloist Heidi Sutherland, to round out all the footage that later became our new film, Crooked Dreams.
See film here:
Behind the Lens at the Greenwich Bowtie Criterion Cinema was a culmination of all our films we’ve made over the years. This line-up of dance films screened on a rainy night in October, but we had a hearty audience there to cheer us on. I am so proud of all my dancers who worked on this and gave me the gift of everlasting beauty!
Behind the Lens: Adams Company Dance
The Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation invited us to perform on their bill in November, finishing out my year with a look back at a duet I created in 2011 entitled, Heart Song. The Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck was a theater I’ve always been curious about, and finally I was able to get my foot in the door. I loved the grandeur of it, and it featured the dancers so well on their spacious stage. Heart Song this time around had a new twist to it, allowing for its beauty to stretch to higher levels. See photo album of their performance here.
See dance here:
To be honest, 2019 with its current political climate deepening in doo-doo, was not a year of having warm and fuzzy feelings permeating throughout my being. Thank God for art, though, and its ability to transform our hearts and minds, if not only for a day. Each one of the ACD events that came to pass this year left me a little more lifted, and energized — allowing me to look back on 2019 with a smile!
My gratitude to all the dancers, tech staff, camera pros, editors, and my husband, without whom none of this work would’ve been possible!
The Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation, based in Westchester, NY, is producing A Choreography Showcase this Sunday, November 24th at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, and ACD will present on the bill, Heart Song — a love duet danced by Heidi Sutherland and Christopher Taylor.
The dancers have rehearsed for the past month and are ready to set the stage on fire! This piece, originally premiering in 2011, explores the universal statement of love and passion. The rich, melodic musical score supports the flow of energy between the two dancers, grasping for each other in a soft and tender dance, combining technical prowess with sentiment.
Steffi Nossen School of Dance has been a cornerstone of dance education and performance over generations. This showcase which curates a collection of dance works, brings together notable professional choreographers from across the region along with pre-professional dancers in a performance highlighting new work in a variety of styles and representing a variety of cultures.
Heidi and Chris are dynamos and the process of setting this duet on them has made my heart sing!
Fall has always been a fertile time for me. The harvesting of artistic endeavors with the crisp autumn air seems to be the perfect mix. October 10th was a day to remember. With fits and starts to the day, the final showtime at 7:00p at the Bowtie Criterion Cinema in Greenwich went off without a hitch. Well… there were some hitches, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, shall we say. Describing the events leading up to “pressing play” will remain in the vault, but I will share this one funny incident. Well, not so funny to me at the time, but it proved to be a talking point after the show.
The projectionist was using his laptop with my portable hard drive plugged into it. He said he put it in airplane mode, but did he? While in the middle of one of my films, Ancestry.com downloaded and covered the screen with all the details of the projectionist’s profile. 911! He was out of the room managing other films at the time, so I texted him, “hurry quick!” About a one and a half minutes went by until he rectified the situation and got things back to normal. It seemed like an eternity to me. The biggest joke going around afterward was, “imagine if he had erectile dysfunction in his genetic make-up!” Okay, don’t sweat the small stuff. It all went well in the end and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, despite the hiccup.
Our new partner, Greenwich’s Neighbor-to Neighbor, attended and spoke prior to the film about their organization and how there’s real need even in affluent Greenwich. ACD in association with Peace Community Chapel, stipulated in our event that our film night would donate half of the proceeds to them. It was a real eye opener to have their director describe in detail about food insecurity in the town. We all were so humbled and grateful to know that what we were doing was serving the greater good of humanity.
Behind the Lens, already having had three runs in NYC prior, gained a few films in the line-up, somehow completing a big cycle for me, with my final film, “Crooked Dreams,” taking front and center in my schedule this Fall. I took out my documentary on the making of a dance, leaving room to fill in the space with the newer films I’ve created. Blending the old with the new seemed to round out the evening, and I owe everything to my executive editor, Faith Marek, without whom I couldn’t have pulled this off. We spent hours and hours editing, and enjoying dinners together, as we witnessed the days getting shorter in the process.
It may seem from the outside looking in that I have all my ducks in a row, that I’m highly organized, and endowed financially to be able to produce the way I do. A big NO! My brother once gave nicknames to all my family members when we were young. My nickname was “beautiful mess.” Indeed, that’s me. All the stars have to be aligned to produce a film, but trust me, I continually was off in outer space getting caught in one black hole after the next to make them. My karma has been to have no umbrella, but good visibility in the rain — to have no idea where I’m headed, but to end up in the right place — to have only two nickels to rub together, but to end up abundantly pleased. The messiness of life has stirred-up my inner terrain a large percentage of the time — the advantage; however, is that it colors all that I’ve created, and with this Fall of 2019… all is at its peak!
Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director of Adams Company Dance, will present “Behind the Lens,” a 90-minute film screening of a compendium of their independent art dance film shorts at the Greenwich Bowtie Criterion Cinema, October 10th at 7p. From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Adams and filmmakers Amelia Golden, Benjamin Moss, Joel Stephen, and Faith Marek, weave dancers into their unique settings to create film shorts that are visually stunning, whimsical and emotionally stirring. Adams Company Dance, now in its 28th year, shares a unique look into the ways in which dance connects with the human experience. With three new films in the line-up, this night will have something for everyone!
This event is in collaboration with Peace Community Chapel’s on-going missions to help fight hunger in Lower Fairfield County, CT, with 50% of your tax-deductible ticket price going toward this mission. This year Peace Community Chapel will focus on a new goal of helping Neighbor to Neighbor, of Greenwich, CT.
On June 26th, in our good ol’ standby theater, Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, four tried and true dancers joined me in creating material for our new film, based on one of my old dance pieces, “Crooked Dreams.” Three of the four dancers were chosen from my Master Class earlier in June, so my excitement for new energy was palpable! I was impressed by the talent and sheer risk taking that they did, tossing their bodies into space, and trusting me with odd and unusual choreography. Brave young women — and without questioning! On deck was my general manager and husband, Don Adams, who kept me in line and made everyone feel very relaxed — he’s an invaluable player in everything I do, and I wouldn’t be here without him!
With my lighting guy, David Glista, at the helm of the light board, and my videographer, Faith Marek, raring to go, I made stuff up in a jiffy, and flew by the seat of my pants, in my inimitable style. With just a few quick notes for them on each scene I created, mood, tone, etc… we forged ahead right up until the next group was busting through the doors, impatient for their rental. Typical NYC dancers who can’t wait respectfully, and barge right in!! Okay, well, we might’ve gone over by 1 minute, but I thought I got the shots I needed, so we hastily grabbed our gear, traipsing out with dance clothes and bags dragging on the floor — reconvening in the lobby, where we wiped the sweat off our brows, and had a few sighs and laughs about our dramatic exit!
Heidi Sutherland had a subsequent rehearsal with me a few days ago, where I taught her sequences that will be woven into the mix of the film. What will this be, I ask myself? I really can’t say until I am in the editing room, and the stuff of my Jiffy-Mix comes to life, giving me fresh ideas as to how it all might be part of my Crooked Dreams!
June 11th was an exciting day for me. First off, I ditched Manhattan to teach at a studio in Long Island City — a nice departure from the usual studio haunts that I hang out in. RWS Entertainment has cavernous studios, allowing for great across-the-floor combos and leaping on long diagonals. I was planning to spot new faces for upcoming Jiffy-Mix projects, so I offered it as an audition/master class. The sign-up was overwhelming, and the class was full!
Five of my hearty dancers were there to help demonstrate and be the strong leaders in the band. The talent was fierce, including a handful of athletic men to balance the female presence. It seemed no one was rocked by coming out to this location, and in fact, it was quite easy to get to. Class with an accompanist is my preferred method of teaching, and I wasn’t going to allow for canned music with a Master Class, so I looked into my files, and found Mangue Sylla, a distinguished musician from the Alvin Ailey School. Djembe drums have been a favorite of mine in modern technique classes, as the sound moves through your body from the depths of your soul. I loved playing my claves along with him to accompany the dancers. The three-against-two rhythm is embedded in my hands from a percussion class I took in grad school. Mangue and I grooved on that one for awhile. I loved the interaction between us, as the sound poured throughout the studio, and I lost myself in the music.
My dancers engaged in my technique without missing a beat, (as they get me) throwing themselves into whatever I gave them, offering precise visuals for the new movers. The heat was turned up high and the dancers all broke a good sweat — so I simmered them down afterward with a little Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-Help — a perfect way to bring the high energy to a collected calm before they departed for their next engagement. Lots of hugs, handshakes, and gestures of kindness passed through the door after our two hours together. Many new faces showed up and danced their very best in that class, without a number on their chest, as in most auditions, but with a love of dance in their hearts — a sight to revel in and remember for years to come! And yes, success with finding a few new artists — though I could’ve chosen most all! Check out our latest Jiffy-Mix to see who some of them are!
The evening of May 4th was a magical night! The concert, Going Solo, went off without a hitch. I rarely say that a production went spectacularly, but in fact, it did! Six dancers came together after a whirlwind rehearsal experience, and knocked my socks off! Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn was lit up with high voltage dancing that Saturday, with an audience that enthusiastically supported the event.
The process of rehearsing with so many fits and starts, including two dancers dropping out due to injury and over-commitments, left me scrambling in a search and rescue mission last minute. It seemed the month of April was astrologically challenging us all, but through all the trials, and my dense schedule, the light finally was shed on our event — the special solos, both on film and live, came to life in magical ways. Each and every dancer had their stroke of genius on stage and screen, and whatever sorcery I was doing by pulling all the strings, helped me to unravel some karmic thread, no doubt, as for once, I could say, “it all went to plan.” Thank you, dancers!!
I’m teaching a Master Class on June 11th! Seeking new talent for upcoming projects! Looking for male and female, risk-taking dancers with strong technique. Must have partnering abilities. Paid “Jiffy-Mix” projects! What‘s a “Jiffy–Mix,” project you ask? It takes place usually on a single day, anywhere within a 2-4 hour time slot. I create a whole dance piece; whereby, it’s performed the same day in front of a live audience. It’s typically low-tech, but the dancing can be intensely high-caliber. The rehearsal process is taped, and sometimes made into a mini-film. The performance is also taped and posted on my Vimeo Channel. See example here.
This class will be musical, fun and kinetically charged. The warm-up emphasizes proper placement, centering and fluidity of the spine. Technically challenging movement phrases are built upon in the course of the class, allowing the exploration of a wide range of qualities, spatial patterning and rhythm. Emphasis is on the dancer as a human, not a number. I will also give tips for self-help at the end of class to aid in keeping the body in harmony.
Class will be videotaped and photographed for evaluation and selection process. Upon registration, dancers are asked to sign a release for this allowance. This class is also open to anyone interested in learning, no matter the audition component.
When: Tuesday, June 11th 3:00-5:00p
Where: RWS Entertainment Group (2 subway stops from Manhattan) 34-01 38th Ave., Ste. 302 Long Island City, NY 11101
Cost: $20 (cash, check or CC)
To Register: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org