Black and Blue, a new duet that emerged over a few short rehearsals, sheds the usual love themes and moves in the direction of warped! Christopher Taylor, a newly chosen Alvin Ailey II member, who has already done two projects of mine, joined a new dancer and friend of his, Selah Piett, to work through some of the themes that have been swirling in my mind lately. The bruising of humanity from this pandemic, and from our last administration, has left everyone feeling a little black and blue.
With a little inspiration from an old tv variety show sound clip, mixed with sound effects from an antique Victrola… a Night Gallery-feel scene sets the tone for the duet. The inane past government’s desecration of our moral fabric, led me to interject these oddities which appear within the piece. Does it work? Well, I don’t know, but I did it anyway.
The day of the shoot, I hadn’t even finished the piece! I had time before my videographer, Joel Stephen, showed up, to whip up the rest — a beat the clock kind of experience — that typically helps me to work better. My original female dancer, who was slated to be in this project, got injured, so last minute hiring became my challenge, along with my timing, to get things done. Such is the world of dance! Thank goodness my dancer’s injury healed.
After the smoke cleared from our screeching wheels, it was lights, camera, action! Amazingly, it all came together! I was super impressed by the spontaneity and talent on deck with Joel, and light board operator and designer, Conor Mulligan, who did a great job taking direction and implementing his own style. I’m sure the dancers felt a little beat-up after this 4 hour-mega event, but fortunately, they walked away without being black and blue.
August 26th was a very hot day in Greenwich, CT. A day that most people stayed inside with the AC cranked on HIGH! I, on the other hand, was outside all day with my veteran dancer, Annie Heinemann, shooting footage for our next film short. Along with multiple costume changes, were multiple site-specific locations — each where creative ideas poured out, as the camera merely caught the action. It felt like a grab-and-go filmmaking day. A variety pack of sorts, that started with a tapestry of footage from a cemetery; moving on to a beautifully landscaped park, with an arched bridge over a babbling brook; and then, on to grounds of Greenwich Academy, where a raw dock jutted out into a pond with a vigorous fountain; and culminated with indoor shots grabbed in the darkness of a bathroom of the lower school.
Little story boarding was going on to connect all the dots, but Annie was ready, willing, and able to pull off everything as spontaneously as I. She’s equipped with technique, style, and panache, allowing my job to be easy! With so much footage in the can, I now have the task of rummaging through all of it to create a film that I hope will dive deep into the psyche of that hot, summer day!
Thanks for attending our premiere! This event is now over. Please check back soon for the public availability of this film, Honkin’ Red High Heels!
This is NOT a commentary on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Red Shoes,” but yet, I am combining red shoes with dance in an entirely different way to premiere, Honkin’ Red High Heels! On New Year’s Eve at 9pm, be prepared for about 16-minutes of a bizarre new film short from Adams Company Dance made remotely in its entirety during the 2020 pandemic. My editor extraordinaire, Joel Stephen, happily took on the project with me.
Featuring three beautiful dancers working out of their home settings, while donning their flashy red high heels, either on or off their feet — this film has something for everyone! Experience their outdoor environments melding into their rooms, and their red shoes appearing like a Cheshire Cat on a hidden branch. Tricks will be played on their soles, as their consciousness drowns in the waters of the unknown. Diving deep into the psyches of these three, bold, woman… you’ll witness the raw layers of themselves unravel in this Alice in Wonderland-like experimental film short. With music from hard-driving drum beats layered with lazy saxophone riffs, to warm piano ballads, and sad violin lines — this musical medley ends with a droning electric guitar that brings all the emotions to the surface — eerily pressing on a 2020 nerve!
Joel Stephen has been on the editing team of Adams Company Dance both on camera and in the editing room. His tireless efforts working with my zany brain, have paved the way for many projects, culminating in this last passion project, Honkin’ Red High Heels. During this pandemic, we never saw one another except on Zoom. After first sifting through hours of iPhone footage sent from the dancers’ Zoom rehearsals with me, and later sending the core files to Joel, we assembled the pieces of this weird jigsaw puzzle over a period of approximately two months. Thanks to his technical prowess and creative input, this film would not have been possible.
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~
Watch a replay of an Adams Company Dance favorite: “Itty Bitty Nitty Gritty, “ where a tug-of-war of musical chairs, meets a folk-frenzied ballet, in this trio made up of world class dancers performed at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in 2012. When so many of you have said, “sorry I missed your show,” we’ve made it easy for you to catch up!
RT: 12 minutes in length
See the dance here:
Dancers: Catherine Borrone, Milan Misko, & James A. Pierce, III.
August is typically a month filled with creative ideas, and numerous rehearsals. Sadly, COVID-19 is now center stage, so I have to step aside, and take stock in things that bring me joy. I’m happily reflecting back to a summer where I can’t remember feeling more relaxed and happy making a new work. It was 2008, and I whipped this piece up in a jiffy. The dancers were so into it, and with music by a family friend, Muriel Anderson, it was nothing less than a magical, summer delight! It had numerous runs, but when it appeared in my 2009 concert at the Ailey Citibank Theater, sparks were flying! I yearn to put this back back together someday. Til then, I hope you’ll enjoy watching this slideshow of the making of ‘At Ease,” by Cathryn Lynne. I’ll have the performance online later this year.
Dancers: Julie Fiorenza, Milan Misko, Ryan Schmidt, & Sarah Wiechman
Join us at 8P for the premiere of our new film, “Sidelined,” on Vimeo. After four tedious months of remote editing, we’ve finally completed our film, “Sidelined.” Using raw footage shot on 2/5, long before we were sidelined, — this short film revolves around the themes of quarantine and the pandemic. It started out loosely based on the idea of the lack of spirituality in our society today, but unconsciously, there was something being channeled that cold, winter day. As the days and months unfolded into the crisis our world was facing, the film’s fate twisted into new meaning. Read our blog about the details of the film shoot day here. Take a sneak peek into some of the images of that day here.
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?
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!