2021 was a bumpy ride, to say the least. A wave of freedom to move about, was met with another wave of isolation. A collective sigh of relief, was met only by coughing through COVID all over again. It was a miracle to say the least, to have been able to work creatively this past year. With the start of the year premiering Honkin’ Red High Heels, a film we made remotely in its entirety, to working in person with my dancers and videographer this past summer, I felt the duality of life during this pandemic. Working on our new duet, Black and Bluish, was thrilling for me in part, as we were in a theater — not on ZOOM!! Meeting up with live dancers on a stage, with lighting, a tech person, a videographer, and a line manager, was refreshing to say the least. Dancers, Christopher Taylor and Selah Piett, (a new dancer brought in last minute after news of another dancer becoming injured), were quick to adapt and pull my crazy ideas together for their premiere. A newly found editor, Tareek Jones, was also an inspiring in-person work situation — what a treat at that point in time! We worked throughout the Fall in our own little Oz, pulling levers behind the curtain. Our new film short,Bits and Pieces, had its premiere, as well. Dancer, Annie Heinemann, was with me for an all day shoot, which ended up being a prophetic piece of storytelling.
Altogether, I consider myself lucky to have been able to work in these capacities, considering the many obstacles against me. I know I’m not alone when I say that. Any artist who accomplished producing anything at all, is to be congratulated! Now, with our current lockdown of theater, and cancellations of artistic productions galore, I am truly humbled to press PLAY, and look back at the ebb and flow of this past year! It’s been a bumpy ride — that’s for sure!
May this be a time to take stock in what we have, and pay homage to those known to us and unknown to us, who have lost their lives. May their memories live on in our hearts and minds forever, and may 2022 bring peace, and inspiration to us all! Thank you for your support of Adams Company Dance, as we move forward with hope for a healthy, and rewarding New Year!
Dancers featured in our 2021 projects: Annie Heinemann; Abby Marchesseault; Selah Piett; Christopher Taylor, and Evita Zacharioglou
On August 26th, I set out to make a short film, Bits and Pieces, with my dancer Annie Heinemann. I missed the memo on what the film was going to be about, but relied on my inimitable “Jiffy-Mix” style to arrange the day by going from different site specific locations, where I basically shot from the hip. Our footage went into the can where it sat until I could find a new in-person editor. After I accomplished that, I went to work and created the trailer. Things were moving along, and then my life was put on pause after I learned the news of my sister’s suicide. Moving through the scenes after I started things up again, I was struck by the nature of the clips I saved. As an aside, I typically write poems about all my works, and so I thought I’d share the poem below which was written before I knew about my sister’s passing. Needless to say, this was a prophetic unfolding, and it’s my honor to dedicate this short film to her.
Bits and Pieces
October 3rd, 2021
Bits and pieces of a broken life… shades of memories, traumas, and old rusted cars that had driven too many miles…
A death, a gathering, cards and flowers — all part of a fine, nicely decorated package of a life, no longer breathing…
We cry, celebrate, crumble and sink into the long days of loneliness and grief that engulf each day, like a gull, swooning in on a clam shell, breaking its outer coating, and watching as the gooey insides seep out into the sand…
The meaningless chats with well-meaning friends turn the calendar pages, one month after the next — a dry, run-down sort of relationship, reminiscent of a stiff mannequin in a dusty storefront, where the same clothes have been on display for years…
The tiny hands and feet of a life that could’ve brought smiles and cheers on soccer fields, and birthdays filled with balloons and bows of brightly colored joy — lost to the ages along with all the others — middle aged, old and greying, and some just graduating…
Too many souls now mingling together in the cosmic sea of recycled energy — enjoying a laugh, a hug, and sharing bits and pieces on their lessons learned.
I am happy to premiere ACD’s new duet, Black and Bluish! This duet depicts the bruising of humanity from the pandemic, in addition to the leftover wreckage from the last administration. An inane, circus-like mix of music and movement, merges with contemporary beauty in this peculiar piece that explores unconventional territory.
How did it happen that my new film, Bits & Pieces, would morph into being about my sister’s passing? The trailer (below) was surely prophetic. I had many dreams, and my unconscious mind was apparently preparing me for the worst. The day of the film shoot on August 26th, we began in a cemetery. Part of me thought, really? It’s such a hackneyed venue to use in films. I loosely was thinking of a close friend of Annie’s, (my dancer), who had experienced a recent loss. It was topical, but really not my main thrust for the film, but then again, I didn’t know that day what exactly the film would be about. Now, tuning into the depths of my soul, I honor the blue, the raw, and the spiritual knowing, that my sister is in a better place, and that this film will be dedicated to her memory. As the editing process was placed on hold after learning the news of her suicide on October 14th, it’s been a process getting back to it, with so many factors preventing its completion. After my sister’s funeral, on her birthday, October 17th, the deep, blue tones I created for one of the film sequences began to swirl in my mind. The color merged with my emotions — needless to say… I’m feeling blue.
Black and Bluish, 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