In 2018 I choreographed a solo based on the idea of just how delicate human nature is, and how easy it is to drown in life. In all actuality, the piece originally was inspired by a client of mine that had attempted suicide. I was thrown by her actions, and could only guess that beneath the surface of her life, there was some deep, dark stuff lurking about. Thankfully, she recovered and with time, is now fully thriving. That was her. And now, we revisit the same theme again, only this time it focuses on one of my sisters. The barnacles attached to her sinking ship created waves in her life that caused her to attempt suicide 2 weeks ago, and now I am revisiting It’s Easy to Drown, yet again. Her stay in the hospital got me to thinking about the piece again, and how the process of making it was quite therapeutic. As I hit rewind, I am reminded that in the continuum of life, there are no guarantees… only the awareness that every day is a gift!
Interrupted by a crisis of international proportion, coming back is not an easy task. Hybrid projects are emerging, as full stage productions are daunting, expensive, and not yet totally safe. COVID-19 has altered our lives, but as we strive to make a comeback, we’re encouraged to be arbiters of change. Summer poses new projects for ACD highlighting innovations outside the box. Watch for our announcements coming soon!
March 17th, 2021 — St. Patrick’s Day! For me, this day has significance in that I am part Irish. At the very least, each year I don my favorite green items from my wardrobe, and question everyone on my path if they’re Irish, and whether they plan on a toast to Ireland with a green beer. A year ago today; however, St. Patty’s Day marked the shutting down of my Jin Shin Jyutsu practice, along with the suspension of all dance rehearsals. No green beers or celebrating. Will this be go bragh, I wondered? In old Irish, go bragh means eternity or til the end of time. We all have been in the dark, and no one knew the timeline of this pandemic. Part of me was elated that I had some time off — I’ll admit it, but after a year of this virus robbing us of our lives, livelihood, and a beer at the bar, it’s clear it’s become an act of attrition.
Without dancers in the studio with me working out new choreography, while I hang onto the barre doing my pliés, admiring their talents… I feel a big hole in my soul. My Jin Shin Jyutsu clientele at least have their Self-Help practice with me virtually, or at least some of them, but it’s the pointing of feet, the wearing of the dance clothes, the schlepping of the dance bag to the sweat-filled studio, and those beautiful, hardworking dancers that I really miss. Yes, I worked a few projects over this past year remotely, and I am so grateful and proud of my dancers and editors that helped me pull it off, as they did an incredible job, but it’s just not the same as being in a physical, somatic environment. Weh, weh, weh… cry baby, I know!
We’re all adjusting and adapting — albeit difficultly, the shutdown has given me time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about what’s really important to me. And, also examining what I can toss out, including really big decisions, such as whether or not to go back to all of it at all. Yep, that’s been on the table! I’ve read announcements of companies folding, studios shutting down, and dancers fleeing NYC altogether. Just when I was thinking, “stand clear of the closing doors, ” my Father sent me a box of 15 new dance bags with my Adams Company Dance Logo. He had no idea what I was fleshing out in my mind, but just thought it would make a nice birthday gift for me to give out to my dancers. Was it a sign, I thought? Don’t give up? Perhaps I need to step back on the train. Not sure — who knows — but, what I do know is that they’re green. And today is the perfect day to celebrate ACD’s year of floating through the pandemic, while honoring the color of this holiday. So, as I may whimper about the loss of so much, I harken back to a favorite song from the 70’s by The Five Stairsteps, “O-O-H Child.” “… things are gonna get easier… o-o-h child things are gonna get brighter.” And I’ll keep reminding myself that ” … we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun… some day when the world is much brighter.” Who wants a new dance bag??
During a year jammed-packed with so many news items it made our heads spin, not the least of which was a worldwide pandemic, it’s easier to say what we didn’t do than what we did. The dark, gloomy feelings that permeated the minds of millions of people were contagious, devouring our hearts of that sweet, uplifting feeling that seemed in a distant past. Deflecting into my artist-side became a great comfort. Considering the obstacles stacked against me, I managed to swim to the surface here and there and breathe some life into some projects.
Typically when I make new work, I write a poem or at least a statement that sums up the themes. If given the opportunity to make a new piece about 2020, the poem might go something like this:
Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow… We have so many tears we need not borrow… Our collective grief will be here tomorrow… and the next day… and the day after that…
And so it goes, I did go on to write out longer prose, spitting out the spoiled, rotten pieces of 2020 — in the middle of the night, no less. Straight out of the gate in March, some of this fodder from my writings spilled out into the editing of my film short, Sidelined. So many fits and starts in editing this delayed the premiere til July, even though we shot the project on a cold day in February — long before we knew what was about to hit us. Read on about the behind-the-scenes of this prophetic piece here.
In the meantime, between editing, I dusted off some pieces from the archives and shared them throughout the year. Dressing up pieces from ACD’s past with social media posts, was a practice I fondly grew to like. One of the highlights, was replaying our Going Solo concert, and gathering the dancers back together for a Zoom-moderated interview about their process. My editor, Faith Marek, was on board with me on this, weaving together photo images of their solos prior to the screening. Re-purposing a whole concert was really exciting to me and the dancers, as so many folks couldn’t get to Brooklyn back in May of 2019. Check out the experience and replay here.
As October rolled around, I finally had my first Zoom rehearsals with my dancers to create Honkin’ Red High Heels. It seemed disastrous to me to be in my dingy, junk-filled basement without the luxury of a sprawling dance studio, but I was learning to adjust and lower the barre (lol!) for myself. The dancers got me, fortunately, and provided playback that proved to me that they interpreted correctly — shocking, as I thought the visual I demonstrated was more on the page of “Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow!” Déjà vu… I was again involved in a couple months of remote editing, but this time with my editor, Joel Stephen — an ACD team editor who helped elevate this project to levels unexpected. I massaged every snippet of footage the dancers sent me on their iPhones til I got what I wanted. Though Zoom and many phone calls, Joel listened and pulled levers to make my imagination come to life! This all-remote film short was a labor of love, and if you can look symbolically into the brain of this work, you’ll see why I said it eerily presses on the nerve of 2020 — shoes burning in a fireplace at the end — need I say more!!Check out the blog on our premiere on this and look for public viewing coming soon.
As I wrap up this year, and reflect back on all of its ingredients, I will proclaim that there were many silver linings amidst the muck of it all. I could linger in “Our Lady of Sorrow… “, I guess, but I think it’s best left to say that my survival strategy got me to the finish line!
Thanks to all of the dancers who contributed artistically, without whom none of this would’ve been possible!
This trio, Short Story, seems appropriate to share on Halloween! A touch of mysterious mixed with a hint of sinister! In three sections, this REPLAY of our 2018 work is featuring dancers: Heidi Sutherland, Wade Watson, and Evita Zacharioglou. Read about this piece in our blog from that time. Enjoy!
Check out our screening of Behind the Lens: Adams Company Dance TONIGHT! The link goes LIVE at 8P ! Watch RIGHT HERE on this site!
From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director of Adams Company Dance, along with filmmakers/collaborators Amelia Golden, Benjamin Moss, Joel Stephen, and Faith Marek, weave dancers into their unique settings to create this compendium of 13 film shorts that are whimsical, visually stunning, and emotionally stirring. Adams Company Dance, now in its 29th year, shares a unique look into the ways in which dance connects with the human experience. All films were shot within a 3-hour time frame more or less, and later edited into a theme — what Adams’ coins her “Jiffy-Mix” style. This film has been screened in NYC twice at Producers Club Theater; the Bryant Park Hotel Theater moderated by dance critic, Debra Levine; and last Fall in Greenwich, CT at the Bowtie Criterion Cinema. With four new films in the line-up, including their latest short film, “Sidelined,” made over the 2020 quarantine, this night will have something for everyone!
Program OrderSidelined (2020)This film, based on footage shot prior to the pandemic, twisted itself into new meaning as the Corona Virus surfaced, and serendipitous themes emerged in the editing process. Stemming from a three-hour “Jiffy-Mix” rehearsal taped in February 2020, and loosely based on the subject of the lack of spirituality in our society today, dancers depict feelings of isolation and separation in this transcendent work that unfolded as a gift.A Piece of Shelter (2011)
This film, shot at The Secret Theater in Queens, NY, during the rehearsal and live performance of a dance entitled "Shelter," depicts the search for beauty beneath the rough exterior of life.Sea Chapter (2014)
Against the backdrop of Mother Sea, this film reveals a man's soulful journey in learning to lean on his instincts and intuition, in order to release the old and embrace the new. (Based on the piece “Flight”)Woodland Aire (2013)
Based upon works created to the music of Maria Schneider’s “Winter Morning Walks,” dancers mesh with nature in this spry piece filmed during a one-day residency at the Dragon's Egg in Ledyard, CT.Hush Little Child (2015)
From the frozen, snow packed ground to the fragrant, flowering orchids, this film depicts a woman looking back at her life, as if through the lens of a dream. Let’s Face It (2010)
A techo-media film, based on the concepts of the loss of spirituality and literature in our society, due to the interference of our technological age (Based on a one-evening dance/theater event).Jeu d’Esprit (2012)
With only a hat and a few costume pieces, this work offers the viewer a passport abroad, in this high-stepping ‘French flavored’ solo. (Based on the piece “Avec Moi”)About Face (2011)
Based on the dance event “Let’s Face It,” this film takes a look at the fine gap between the ego and the mirror.Ebb & Flow (2017)
Based on the process of a “Jiffy Mix” rehearsal of the dance “Dream Spell,” filmmaker, Joel Stephen, weaves his colorful footage from a few short hours to reveal the inner workings and mysteries of a magical dance experience.A Dress In The Stream (2013)
Based upon conversations with artists who struggle with their art, this film depicts a young woman who watches her dreams float away, yet finds resolve in the beauty of nature, with nothing to expect other than the rippling, calm of water in the estuary of life.Something Fake (2018)
Filled with symbolism, this short, theatrical dance film captures the director’s inner monologue on the current administration’s inane treatment of facts and manufacturing of falsehoods.Playing House (2013)
A young woman steps into a raw space, dreaming of future possibilities, full of promise and hope. (Based on the piece “Dust Devil”)Crooked Dreams (2019)
A journey through the unconscious mind brings fragments from disjointed dreams. The dreamer strolls through the scenes, as the veils of mystery unfold, with colorful characters accompanying her along the way.
* * *
A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR: I was inspired to start making short dance films, when I faced the crippling realization of the economic effects of producing live dance concerts. In a real hurry to get "in and out" of the studio and to keep my costs under control, I developed a method of working, in short time periods, which I eventually coined "Jiffy Mix Dances"... just add water and stir! With the pressure of time constraint, I put myself to the test to compress my artistic experience, while still striving to maintain a human element. A deep level of trust in my dancers keep me stirring all the ingredients without all the fuss and muss! Though concert dance continues to enrich my choreographic spirit, with all its trim and finesse, it’s the stuff of the “Jiffy Mix” process that excites my “grab-and-go” side and keeps me on my toes!
* * *
Directed and produced by Mitzi Adams,
Artistic Director, Adams Company Dance
All choreography by Mitzi Adams
Adams Company Dance is a member, in good standing, of ASCAP.
NOTICE: This film is for research and scholarly purposes only. This film is not designed or intended for monetary gain, nor does the producer or the company receive private compensation for the film. Distribution of this film is strictly prohibited. Adams Company Dance, is a member in good standing with ASCAP.
Watch our REPLAY of our Going Solo Concert TONIGHT, 9/26 – here on this site, where the link will go LIVE at 8p!
Six talented dancers performed their solos on the eve of May 4th, 2019 at the Triskelion Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY. Read about that magical night here in my blog! Tonight you will get to see a REPLAY of that night, along with LIVE interviews with the dancers, where they described the process of their individual pieces.
The dancers performing are:
Julie Firoenza Abby Marchesseault Heidi Sutherland Christopher Taylor Joshua Tuason Evita Zacharioglou ******************************
1) Flight (2014): Christopher Taylor
2) Mother’s Day (1998): Julie Firoenza
3) Dust Devil (2013): Abby Marchesseault
4) Going Solo (Premiere): Heidi Sutherland
5) My Room (2010): Julie Firoenza
6) Small Voice (2004): Evita Zacharioglou
7) It’s Easy To Drown (2018): Heidi Sutherland
8) Lost & Found (1999): Joshua Tuason
(This replay tonight is solely the performances, and not the films which were featured in the live concert.)
Videography/Editing: Faith Marek
GOING SOLO PIECE DESCRIPTIONS:
FLIGHT: Performed by Christopher Taylor
Exploring the emotional depths of the willingness to survive no matter the odds, this rare solo touches the heart with beauty and grace. The film Sea Chapter is based on this solo.
MOTHER’S DAY: Performed by Julie Fiorenza
This dramatic solo explores dreams that the choreographer and her mother had before her mother’s death. Set to an original text, combined with a haunting music collage, this solo forms a partnership to arouse imagination about the mother/child relationship.
DUST DEVIL: Performed by Abby Marchesseault
This thematic solo was choreographed to enliven the spirit of a poem. The athletically danced, theater-style piece, reminisces about life on the plains, with the swirling, little tornadoes that the poet recalls in the beanfields of the Midwest. (Music granted by Maria Schneider).
GOING SOLO: Performed by Heidi Sutherland
This solo digs into depths of expression, creating a terrain of movement exemplifying the unsteady nature of life, yet allowing for the ground to provide a place for sanctuary and hope.
MY ROOM: Performed by Julie Fiorenza
An opening slideshow with images from Korea, combine with a sensitive, heartfelt dance about a young woman’s adoption. This tender solo, danced to neo-classical piano music, interprets a story from the Far East.
SMALL VOICE: Performed by Evita Zacharioglou
This capricious solo portrays the loss of innocence from childhood, into the complications of adulthood. From the fondness of hopscotch to the gestural entanglements of emotion, this piece reads like a storybook of memories and makes a statement about the process of growing into responsibility.
IT’S EASY TO DROWN: Performed by Heidi Sutherland
This solo was 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.
LOST & FOUND: Performed by Joshua Tuason
This whimsical solo, with narration by the choreographer’s first dance teacher, Hedy Tower, connects past and present in a tribute to healing and hope. Lifted from a desolate reality and shown a renewed passion for life, this piece contracts and expands, depicting these rippling themes through jagged edges and graceful exuberance. Imbued with the strength to overcome, this light-spirited, colorful dance pays respect to the sentimental journey of the heart.
A NOTE FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
“The stuff of solos” chronicles the messages from a lone voice that speaks through the pores of the soul. Its very essence is founded through the dancer that “puts it on,” like a new outfit that you buy at the store. Stepping into the skin of the solo awards the dancer the right to interpret his or her own meaning, loosely based on the original script. In rehearsals, I use pencil instead of pen to allow for the artists to erase what might have been, so they can etch their own branding into the storyline. Ultimately, it is through their letting go of all my notes when they finally go paperless. When I no longer see the choreography, but just see a beautiful dancer expressing themselves, I know I’ve done my job. I am honored to be in the company of such elite artists, who have chosen to dive deep into “the stuff of solos.”
~ Mitzi Adams
(This film is for scholarly and research purposes only. This film is not designed or intended for monetary gain, nor does the producer or the company receive private compensation for the film. Distribution of this film is strictly prohibited.)
Thank you for joining us for our concert REPLAY! Look for us again in October for the RE-SCREENING of Behind the Lens: Adams Company Dance~
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?