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!
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.
Dancer, Mark Willis , gave a mature performance of his solo the day we did our shoot 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 premieres coming soon. Now, back to the editing room!
Working toward a new film and creating a new solo has been on the docket. Today, all will be a bit wild and crazy as we shift our senses for a film shoot. Dancer, Mark Willis, has been learning a new solo, “Fall Away,” which he dances beautifully with his whole heart and soul. Nicole Renaud’s music will highlight his piece — stay tuned for more on her in my next blog. As for the film, I’m excited to break new boundaries and invite in spoken word to add to the mix with one of my long-time dancers and consummate performer, James A. Pierce, III. James has been acting up a storm, and when last I saw him perform in Martha Clarke’s, “God’s Fool,” I was wowed by his vocals and acting ability. This film will incorporate all of his and Mark’s talents — an ambitious undertaking, but with the Triskelion Arts theater as my security blanket, I hope to bring all the elements together as we roll around on our playground! Stay tuned for more on this project~
Elton John’s song, “I’m Still Standing,” seems appropriate for 2022. With the world’s events making us all feel like we’re at our rope’s end, it would seem that any artistic endeavor would be impossible. Somehow, through all the fits and starts, and the momentum slowing down due to COVID’s unpredictable nature, I was able to manage braving the elements to create, remake, and be honored to get back in the studio and on a world class stage in 2022. Without a lot left in my tank, I cruised to the last calendar page of December, where ACD was on the bill of the American Dance Guild’s festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, highlighting my year. Thanks to the dancers and all the behind-the-scenes helpers, 2022 was one for the books!
Tonight James A. Pierce, III & Heidi Sutherland perform the duet “Willing to Catch,” in a redux premiere on YouTube.
Tonight at 8:30p I will share the same piece I shared last week, but with different dancers performing.
About the piece:
“Willing to Catch,” was made for a residency at Temple University back in 2017. Two couples learned this duet back then, and one duo went on to perform it in Philadelphia, while the understudies performed it in NYC, at the CBG Dance Fall Festival. The music chosen then required a $500 fee every six months for me to share online. Well, that simply wasn’t possible, so with the help of a composer I found by the name of Jurrivh, and the ability to purchase a reasonably priced license, I am now able to share thiswork with you, displaying both couples with new music edited to the performances. Cheating? I guess, but art gives us the allowance to do what we want, right? Ha!
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!
Ailey Citigroup Theater: 405 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
27 years ago Adams Company Dance was on the first ever adjudicated bill of the American Dance Guild at the Cunningham Dance Studio. Now, ACD will again return to the festival with two talented new dancers, Payton Primer and Derick McKoy, Jr., performing “I Will Show You An Ocean,” a passionate duet about the power of the human spirit. Both dancers have such impressive resumes, so be sure to check out their sites!
The year was 1995 and Adams Company Dance was now 4 years into its inception in NYC/CT. After being accepted to the first ever adjudicated festival of the American Dance Guild at the Cunningham Studio Theater, I went into rehearsals with my new dance partner, Eddie Taketa, to teach him Colors May Bleed — a piece I had already choreographed with my previous partner, Paul Dennis, and performed twice already by that point in time. American Dance Guild was built upon a grassroots premise with their primary mission being to preserve the legacy of dance with all the components that go along with it. Honoring pioneers and dance notables were top on their list. Hosting a dance festival seemed like a good idea.
Now 27 years later, Adams Company Dance comes full circle by being accepted to another festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater this December. I am honored to be involved and excited to see how my duet from 2007, I Will Show You An Ocean, will look on two new dancers, Payton Primer and Derick McCoy, Jr. With new talent and a festival with colleagues lined up from my past, this ought to be a unique blend of artistry that will bring me back to my roots.
Review from 1995
Colors May Bleed
This athletic duet blends the tug-of-war between society’s pressure to conform and a human’s right to freedom of choice. With original narration and a hard-driving musical score, this agitating piece depicts tolerance over fear.