With many obstacles before me from last July til now, I finally was able to finish my film, “Something Fake.”Though we shot the footage last summer, my editor had moved from Connecticut to NYC, so finding the time to get together with her proved to be a challenge. In fact, the slow burn to the finish line probably got me a bit weary to create a shorter version, which I’m sure would’ve gone over better in the end than what I produced, but c’est la vie!
The symbolism of the piece unraveled in the editing sessions, where the emergence of the story occurred. The sections I choreographed were not purposely supposed to depict the Republicans and Democrats, but with the overt colors of red and blue from my film shoot, I couldn’t help but use that platform to construct ideas based upon the divisiveness of Congress; the red, hot topic of Russian collusion; and the inane ‘wall,’ depicted through the outdoor fence I found outside the theater. The flowing, red cloth in the film, seen in other works of mine, took on an entirely new meaning — Russian collusion. The staring eye through this thin red veil, reveals the evil eye of corruption.
Under my direction that day, the scenes I worked out were loosely inspired by the Helsinki Summit where President Trump ‘misspoke.’ Google it. At the time, it seemed to me that there was no other evidence needed to indict our President. Treason seemed palpable, but as the calendar pages turned, my coup de gras Helsinki Summit film theme, became lost in the shuffle of our 36-hour news cycle. More importantly, though, is the common thread of injustice in our government; and, as the bar for democracy is lowered, the level of farcical humor in our media is raised. As the children of our future will be learning about our current administration through social media, YouTube, and perhaps, artistic endeavors… keeping it all straight in the age of fake news will be their obstacle to sift through. If viewing this film can pair our day and age with a seed of truth, then I guess what I’ve done could be pivotal for future generations. And if not, art for art’s sake apparently is still in vogue!
2018 has been a year of feeling knee deep in the funk of our current political climate. Just when you thought nothing could get any worse, another story would unfold, making yet another stain in the fabric of our society. Out of this chaos always comes an artful depiction from artists all over the globe. February was when I felt the urge to go to my small corner of the universe, and create a piece for dancer, Heidi Sutherland. The solo we created, It’s Easy To Drown, was created and taped in Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts, then went on to be performed at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in KoDaFe in June. Heidi soared in her performance reaching new heights with her incredible technique and talent. See more of Heidi here.
Putting one foot in front of the other, I imagined how I might allow for a catharsis of the angst I was feeling about the Trump Administration. The collective sludge that started a mud slide of turmoil was gradually pushing me toward making a short film. My ideas came together in an array of scenes crafted for four dancers on a oven-hot day in July, back again at Triskelion Arts. Lights, camera, action and with no time to polish, the footage we got that day went in the can, as the guts to my new film entitled, “Something Fake.” With fits and starts to schedules and then my editor moving, the process of editing was as slow as molasses. Being a Jiffy Mix choreographer, it took all the patience I could muster to work on this project only here and there; however, I’m happy to announce that the premiere will be very soon!
My catharsis continued into late summer when I created a site specific work at the Halibut State Park in Rockport, MA. This time, my dancer-self came out to play, as serendipity met nature in three hours of improvisation, in the most beautiful place in New England. Footage from this day is on the back-burner, but the cooling effect of finding my peace is seen in these stills.
Fall went a little weirder and far from nature as I went into the studio again, making a piece that should’ve been premiered on Halloween, but ended up making its debut in November — again back in Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts. That theater has my footprints all over it, and I’m grateful for the tab not being too steep. Somewhere amidst the #MeToo Movement and the tumult of our times, came a dance trilogy hinting at a darker shade of pale. Coaching the dancers to find their own meaning within the work paid off, as each of them told their own inner story. In fact, I titled the piece, “Short Story.” It begins with a duet, goes into a solo, then ends with a trio– all of which were performed with fierce commitment to the movement. They sweat through several rehearsals before knowing what it all meant, but in the long-run, it’s up for interpretation — the ending, however, leaves no doubt about man’s evil spirit.
So, as the political scene continues to shred all sense of balance, and 2018 comes to a close, I find my strength in dance and the dancers that makes it all happen. It’s in their fluidity, their power, and their artistry that allows me to go knee deep into the magic of dance — and at least for the moment, helps me to rise above it all!
Adams Company Dance will premiere a new work, “Short Story” at Triskelion Arts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn tomorrow. Our videographer, Joel Stephen, will be on deck with two cameras going to capture the dancers while they dive deep into the material. The piece is a trilogy inspired not only by the #MeToo Movement, but also the massive disintegration we are witnessing on our world stage now. The three sections, a duet, solo, and trio, describe the burdens and hardships that we are undergoing in our society, but touch on the resolve we can find if we lean on each other for comfort and healing. Ultimately, the sinister nature of man is revealed at the end — a familiar feeling with where we are right now with our current administration. Please visit our photo album of “The Making of Short Story.”
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
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!
I recall in 2006, walking in on my first day as Associate Professor of Dance at Western Michigan University to my new office, which I was sharing with two colleagues, where I noticed on the shelf of the Jazz Teacher, Tony Calucci, the book, “Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole. I plucked the book off his shelf and said, ” hey, I know Glenn Loney… I work with him.” Tony’s response: “You know Glenn Loney??” “Yes, I do, I said.” I immediately felt a kinship with Tony, and it was that book conversation that ignited our longtime friendship.
After meeting Glenn in 1993 in Tenafly, NJ at my first Jin Shin Jyustu seminar (if my memory serves me correctly), I knew there among us was a very outspoken, witty, professor. We spent many times together in classes, until he decided to start coming to me for sessions in NYC in my first office on 72nd and Columbus, which I believe was in 1994. He would bring me volumes of old dance magazines, and periodicals that had mostly been out of print, that he thought should go to me. Dance Scope was one of them. Remember that one? Glenn and I had fun together over the years discussing theater, dance, his travels, photography, politics, religion, life after death, etc… our conversations ran the gamut, and Glenn was never at a loss for words. In fact, it was all I could do to have him sink into the table for some solitude for five minutes! Toward the end of his life, though, Glenn often was too tired to talk, and many sessions were all about the silence and the energy, after a short-debriefing on his condition. We had an understanding, though, and words really didn’t matter so much. Prior to that, in 2016, when he was still in full force, ACD honored Glenn with a lifetime achievement award at the Bryant Park Hotel at our screening: Behind the Lens. L.A. Times Dance Critic, Debra Levine, moderated. She had been working on a book about Jack Cole, and had interviewed Glenn about his work, knowing that Glenn was the foremost authority on all topics, Cole.
Glenn was tickled to have been honored, and told me how he placed the award on his mantel in his living room. He was so grateful, and it made me feel so good to have pulled off that night. I knew no one had ever honored him before in such a way, and though I don’t carry a big name to bestow such an honor, it was a huge deal for Glenn to accept it in a public arena. He had no problem taking the mike that night and reflected on his work, Jack Cole, and even managed to sneak in a few digs about the current political climate at the time!
Week to week, Jin Shin Jyutsu was what helped keep Glenn going, but cancer got him in the end. He burned the candle at both ends, but most brilliant minds historically do that — there’s simply not enough time to get all the things done that need to be done! He claimed that many times over. It amazed me that even when he was at his worst, he’d find the time to mail his package of theater paraphernalia to me, when he no longer could bring it to the office. It was filled with interesting articles from the New Yorker, playbills, reviews he had written, articles he wrote, quips, memes, photos, personal notes, tickets, and itineraries, and an occasional scarf, tote bag, and poster. Wow, Glenn! And, I know he also did this for others, as well. How in the world did he continue to do this over the years? He thought it was important for all of us to know a little bit of what was outside of our normal lives. He’s stated something like, …well you people in the suburbs don’t get to see all of this and know much of this, so I thought it would be interesting to you… Indeed it was, Glenn! Though there’s a hole in my practice without Glenn, he’s filled my heart with so much joy, and filled my head with so much knowledge, that I am satiated for all time with his memory. May he be remembered in our society as a man who exemplified greatness in all he did to bring the arts to a higher level! RIP, my dear friend!
Glenn’s archival reviews:
“Not only is Mitzi Adams a gifted choreographer, but she is also a life saver, being a master of Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient-Asian system for “hands-on” balancing of body-energy flows.”
“My favorites, however, were Mitzi Adams’Mother’s Day and Still. . . Without Wind. Dedicated to her late mother and ‘based on our dreams’, the first work was danced appropriately enough on Mother’s Day. With only a simple bright-red child’s chair as prop and partner, Adams subtly evoked the various ages of mothering, caring, and loving. It was beautiful, sensitive, and touching.” Glenn Loney The New York Theater Wire
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!)