Spring Cleaning

It’s always Spring when we think “where did I put that vacuum cleaner?” This Spring, I’m harkening back to “Pie, Picket Fences & Purgatory, ” a production I choreographed through the mediums of film and performance art. It attempted to reveal how the euphemistic “American Dream” falls between the cracks of the perfect picket fence/apple pie-idealism. The image of Annie vacuuming, donning her June Cleaver-like costume, reminds me of the false hope that Trump is toting around as he dares to sell bibles in an effort to “clean-up” his act and suck all the money he can out of the American people’s pocket books in an effort to pay off his court fees — blasphemy at its finest. Extend your leg as high as you can go, pretend to be vacuuming, and wear your Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, as you try to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes — this is our new purgatory, and there’s no salivating over freshly baked apple pies here!

I digress. Back to Spring cleaning. Last May after a move I made, I reluctantly cleaned out my costume closet, and away went years of ACD’s most revered pieces. It rattled me at first, but eventually that uncomfortable feeling turned into intrigue for new exploration. Don’t you hate that adage, out with the old, in with the new? It says everything, I guess, but when I think ahead with the elections coming up, I cringe that the old will remain, and the new will hobble into hiding. Here’s where imagination comes in. So, back to creative thoughts on vacuuming and dusting off that porch furniture so you can enjoy the fresh flowers and proverbial picket fences in your yard. Maybe tongue-in-cheek will help us through this period of time right now, until we can find our true direction. Until then, I’m watching a documentary on Dante while wearing pearls, eating pie, and picking dust bunnies off the floor.

Featured photos: Fay Li

Performers: Annie Heinemann, Dori Jones, Milan Misko

Dance and Live Music Tonight at SUNY Brockport!

Tamara Wilcox and I met when I did a residency at Eastern Michigan University back in 2005. A pianist and music specialist, Tamara was not only a huge talent musically, but also very well versed in collaboration and music editing. After many projects together over the years, I am delighted to present, yet another collaborative event where Tamara will play her live, original compositions, alongside my choreography at SUNY Brockport, NY, as part of her evening program, shared with musician Dr.Nancy Washer.

This evening’s concert will enable the audience to watch on a video screen, select pieces of Adams Company Dance that were previously set to Tamara’s scores. This pairing of Tamara playing live keyboards, while simultaneously filling the stage with dance on the big screen, will surely delight! Women who dazzle me by their artistry are high up on my list, and Tamara fits the bill!

The Veil of Winter

Dream Spell

Through the bleak mid-winter, there’s a necessary time to go inward, and fill the well of creative thoughts. It’s a reflective time to look through the fine veil of what was, and into the future of possibilities. The image with Claire Hancock holding up a vintage scarf from my piece, “Dream Spell,” feels like it describes this quiet time with a gentle, ruminative, dream-like state — so appropriate for this time period. The day my dancers came together, working in my Jiffy-Mix style, felt like a dream — where the unconscious met cosmic visions, and a bizarre narrative unfolded like a dramatic play. Those were the ingredients that whirled through my mind then, and as for now… I’ll dream about how thin the veil is that lies between the falling of snow, and the budding of Spring.

Dancer: Claire Hancock in “Dream Spell.”

Honoring MLK, Jr

On this January 15th, I bring to you yet, again, a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr, through this time-honored piece, “Undisclosed Recipients: A Tribute to MLK, Jr.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ MLK, Jr.

Dancer: James A Pierce, III
Photos: Cathryn Lynn

Reflections on 2023

Solely United

“Solely United”  was a pure experiment in 2023. James A. Pierce, III, and Mark Willis came together to award me a gift that keeps on giving. A film short embracing the human spirit at its core, that I can continue to watch whenever I want. Woven among three sections of poetry, and featuring spoken word and dance — this poignant, experimental interplay between two performers, invites you into a mystical journey of darkness and light.

Our film footage was shot on February 2nd, 2023 at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY, by Joel Stephen — a longtime partner with ACD. And, with the magic of my editor, Val Gomez Acosta, we whipped together this rare experiment pulling levers, in a couple of dozen hours. The day at the theater was another one of my Jiffy-Mixes, where when all was said and done, we probably were working only 2.5 hours.

Joel Stephen

Val Gomez Acosta was one of those rare finds. My former editor from my last project, Tareek Jones, had gotten a new job, and was unavailable right when I needed to start my work editing. I lucked out finding Val — a former graduate from Yale, who responded to my inquiry. I knew right away that we’d be a match. Without the genius of the editing of Val’s technically superior work, this film never would have gotten off the ground. From our shoot date up until May, I was consumed with an impending move. It all coincided where the film was finished within a day of the moving truck arriving! Our magic together worked! Our YouTube LIVE premiere was fit into a chaotic time in my life, and yet, we pulled it off in May. It deserves much more attention than what I was able to give it, but perhaps in the near future, we can revisit another go at it, in a new state of mind, and virtually, in a new state!

Val Gomez Acosta

I owe a debt of gratitude to James and Mark for trusting me with this huge experiment. As they are both pros, they dug their heels in and brought out the best of their abilities, and gave me the most wonderful gift from 2023~

Mark Willis & James A. Pierce, III

I invite you to see their work, if you haven’t seen it yet. I’m sure they’ll move you in many ways! Cheers to 2023 being all about experimentation, finding great talent, and transitioning!

Watch Solely United Here

2022: A Night of Magic with the American Dance Guild

I Will Show You An Ocean

On Friday December 2nd, I had to make a judgement call to bring in a replacement dancer to cover Derick McKoy, Jr, after learning of his sickness. It was a tough call to make, considering the concert was just three days away. Erring on the side of caution was the best measure; however, and so within a few short hours and after a few phone calls, I found a new dancer to cover Derick’s role. Thankfully, I was in the know of this new dancer and he was ready, willing and able to be a quick study.

And quick study he was! It was the day before the show, and DaJuan Foley jumped in with full gusto, and within two hours, learned the whole piece! Unbelievable! I was with Payton, the female dancer, and DaJuan the whole day, as after the rehearsal we quickly jumped in a cab and got to our tech rehearsal at the Aliey Center where we went into the early evening — whirlwind!! Our tech ran smoothly and the dancers felt pretty good, albeit exhausted. We planned on one more rehearsal the following day before the show. OMG!! No stress here!

With our last rehearsal Sunday the 4th during the day, we were able to whip up a fairly decent run through, though I barely got through giving notes before we were called to stage for ten whole minutes of last minute spacing. I sent the dancers home for a few short hours after that to gather their wits, and then we met up that evening for the concert. Needless to say, I was a tad nervous, mostly about getting the sewing done on the costumes last minute. Relief came when the dancers were dressed and I saw the costumes were going to function properly. I hugged them, and as I do before every show, I bestowed the piece to them — it’s now yours… go make magic on stage, I said!

And, magic they did make! From the moment they stepped onto to the stage, I was blown away by their beauty. Good things come in small packages, as both dancers stand just a wee bit over five feet tall! It was so fun looking at them eye-to-eye while working together! Magically, their statures appeared to look larger on stage — a comment I often got in my professional dancing years. The immense joy I felt as they took their final bow, made all the last minute changes worthwhile. I Will Show You An Ocean, had its second run on the Ailey Citigroup Stage — this time on the festival bill of the American Dance Guild, for which I was so honored. These two talented dancers are sure to be turning heads for years to come!

Feature Images by Robin Michals

Check out some more images from our duet here.

Almost Fall

In many of my dances, there’s a common theme of fall and recovery — coined by Doris Humphrey, who considered this ‘the arc between two deaths,’ it’s a feeling of teetering on the edge, right before movement is arrested. As this summer winds down, I can’t help, but think about the replays of this principle within a few short months. With a recent move back to my home state of PA, I could wax poetic for another year about what guides big decisions, and just how difficult everything has been; however, with an open mind, I’ll default to my zodiac cycle, which tells me to look past the hardships and get ready to embrace the treasures yet to come. It’s almost Fall and new ideas are already beginning to circulate!

I’ll reserve my dialogue about becoming a caretaker for my parent, which is the reason behind the move my husband and I made. Instead, I’ll just share that I caught myself multiple times before falling. On the brink, yet still with my one foot planted, I said goodbye to my past, which began a sort of spiritual recovery. With Mercury in retrograde, I’m reviewing and revisiting my roots — literally my roots here in PA where I was born and raised, and reviewing the glorious 30+ years with Adams Company Dance based in NYC/CT.

As the saying goes, ‘it ain’t over til the fat lady sings,’ so I’ll be revealing my transcendence into new realms as time moves on. The review process has allowed me to sense just how devoted I was with my artistic path, and how despite all odds, I somehow kept creating year after year. As I rewind the tape, I look back fondly on the many generations of fabulous dancers that worked with me; the repertoire I’ve built; the commissions I’ve had; the films I’ve produced; the nine university/college teaching stints I’ve done, as well as a whole year term position as Assistant Professor of WMU; and the countless Master Classes and workshops in dance that I’ve taught to a wide variety of populations — and I wonder why I didn’t fall more than I did. In the end, I guess it’s how well you dust yourself off and pick yourself up after the falls, that counts most. So, during this time of Mercury retrograde, I’m delighted to fall back into my comfort zone of reminiscing, while the summer drifts by, and the hint of Fall is in the air~

Enjoy perusing this sampling of ACD over the years… just a slice of an enormous collection I have!

Photo credits to: Cathryn Lundgren; Whitney Brown; Jack Martin; Judy Lieff; Amelia Golden; Faith Marek; Peter Richards; Robin Michals; Don Adams; Ikada Dance; Joel Stephen

A New Film Premiere Tonight at 7:30 on YouTube!

Join us tonight for the premiere of our new film short, “Solely United.” This film short embraces the human spirit at its core. Woven amongst three sections of poetry, and featuring spoken word and dance — this poignant, experimental interplay between two performers, invites you into a mystical journey of darkness and light.

Our film footage was shot on February 2nd, 2023 at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY, and with the magic of my editor, Val Gomez Acosta, we whipped together this rare experiment pulling levers, in a couple of dozen hours. The day at the theater was another one of my Jiffy-Mixes, where when all was said and done, we probably were working only 2.5 hours.

When: May 12th at 7:30 on YouTube: Click here to film at scheduled time

Featuring: James A. Pierce, III & Mark Willis

Spoken Word: James A. Pierce, III

Poetry: Mitzi Adams

Editing: Val Gomez Acosta

Creative Editor: Mitzi Adams

Music: A collection of licensed pieces of various artists

2022: A Solo Dance Premiere Friday, March 17th at 5p on YouTube Live!

(This “LIVE” event is now over — see new link to dance here: https://vimeo.com/807158379)

I’m looking forward to sharing my new solo, “Fall Away,” tomorrow night on YouTube Mar! This solo will premiere with dancer, Mark Willis, formerly of the Limón Dance Company, among other companies, and currently with White Wave, who joins Adams Company Dance to light up the stage with his soulful dancing of this brand new dance made about the enduring human spirit. With music by Nicole Renaud, this solo is sure to touch your heart!

Join us at 5p on YouTube live on 3/17/23 at:  https://youtu.be/OMzfm45afjE

Winter’s Projects Emerging

In the decades long career path as a choreographer, February has always been a fertile month for creative projects. The fact that it’s my birthday month invigorates me, and some deep push from the universe seems to happen without my need to coerce it into happening. This season, a new solo set to the incomparable Nicole Renaud’s music, as well as the creation of a new film short, are on the docket. I’m excited to share with you a little sneak preview of things to come.

I was lucky, yet again, to be given the permission to use the music of the exquisitely talented singer, composer, and accordion player, Nicole Renaud. Her pure soprano voice and deep passion for reaching into my heart with her melody, made her piece, Le Bleu, the perfect match to my new solo, Fall Away. Nicole’s French flair is highlighted by her elaborate costumes, often equipped with unique lighting that illuminates her statuesque elegance. I was able to see her perform live during a Christmas show some years ago, and I’ll never forget how she captivated the audience with her unique display of artistry.

Nicole Renaud

Dancer, Mark Willis , gave a mature performance of his solo the day we did our showing in Brooklyn at the Triskelion Arts Theater. He seemed to have found the core of what the music was expressing, and what I was relaying as we were creating the piece. He’s a natural mover, and has a sensibility to use his technique to the fullest extent of the movement. Fall Away is about the shedding and letting go of that which no longer serves us. With Nicole’s music and Mark’s dancing, it felt like a symbiotic telling of a familiar life theme.

Next up was our shoot for my new film short with James A. Pierce, III, and Mark, entitled, Solely United. This experiment, using spoken word, dance, and a dose of theatricality, was shot by longtime cameraman, and editor, Joel Stephen. He was quick to maneuver his way around the stage, and capture the fusion of activity that took place in just an about an hour and a half. James is not only a dancer, but such a physical actor, because of his dance background. He learned all his lines ahead of time, making my life easier, as it sped up the process of filming each scene. After a brief rehearsal with the two of them prior to our theater day, they ended up looking like they had been working together for years. They utilized improv within the framework of what I had choreographed, and had me standing back in awe of their genuine inclinations. James hit his marks and dug into the material as if the words were coming out of his body. My husband, Don, was acting line producer, and without his help, I’d be lost. The tech went well due to the artistry and talent of Anna Wotring. She rolled with all of my flying by the seat of my pants style! With all the production elements percolating on high, this Winter project went off without a hitch — down to the choice parking spot we got right in front of the theater! Stay tuned for our YouTube premieres coming soon. Now, back to the editing room!