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. “Oysterman Studio,” is the name of the space, aptly termed after the wealthy oystermen who peddled their 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 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!
Fall has always been a fertile time for me. The harvesting of artistic endeavors with the crisp autumn air seems to be the perfect mix. October 10th was a day to remember. With fits and starts to the day, the final showtime at 7:00p at the Bowtie Criterion Cinema in Greenwich went off without a hitch. Well… there were some hitches, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, shall we say. Describing the events leading up to “pressing play” will remain in the vault, but I will share this one funny incident. Well, not so funny to me at the time, but it proved to be a talking point after the show.
The projectionist was using his laptop with my portable hard drive plugged into it. He said he put it in airplane mode, but did he? While in the middle of one of my films, Ancestry.com downloaded and covered the screen with all the details of the projectionist’s profile. 911! He was out of the room managing other films at the time, so I texted him, “hurry quick!” About a one and a half minutes went by until he rectified the situation and got things back to normal. It seemed like an eternity to me. The biggest joke going around afterward was, “imagine if he had erectile dysfunction in his genetic make-up!” Okay, don’t sweat the small stuff. It all went well in the end and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, despite the hiccup.
Our new partner, Greenwich’s Neighbor-to Neighbor, attended and spoke prior to the film about their organization and how there’s real need even in affluent Greenwich. ACD in association with Peace Community Chapel, stipulated in our event that our film night would donate half of the proceeds to them. It was a real eye opener to have their director describe in detail about food insecurity in the town. We all were so humbled and grateful to know that what we were doing was serving the greater good of humanity.
Behind the Lens, already having had three runs in NYC prior, gained a few films in the line-up, somehow completing a big cycle for me, with my final film, “Crooked Dreams,” taking front and center in my schedule this Fall. I took out my documentary on the making of a dance, leaving room to fill in the space with the newer films I’ve created. Blending the old with the new seemed to round out the evening, and I owe everything to my executive editor, Faith Marek, without whom I couldn’t have pulled this off. We spent hours and hours editing, and enjoying dinners together, as we witnessed the days getting shorter in the process.
It may seem from the outside looking in that I have all my ducks in a row, that I’m highly organized, and endowed financially to be able to produce the way I do. A big NO! My brother once gave nicknames to all my family members when we were young. My nickname was “beautiful mess.” Indeed, that’s me. All the stars have to be aligned to produce a film, but trust me, I continually was off in outer space getting caught in one black hole after the next to make them. My karma has been to have no umbrella, but good visibility in the rain — to have no idea where I’m headed, but to end up in the right place — to have only two nickels to rub together, but to end up abundantly pleased. The messiness of life has stirred-up my inner terrain a large percentage of the time — the advantage; however, is that it colors all that I’ve created, and with this Fall of 2019… all is at its peak!
Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director of Adams Company Dance, will present “Behind the Lens,” a 90-minute film screening of a compendium of their independent art dance film shorts at the Greenwich Bowtie Criterion Cinema, October 10th at 7p. From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Adams and filmmakers Amelia Golden, Benjamin Moss, Joel Stephen, and Faith Marek, weave dancers into their unique settings to create film shorts that are visually stunning, whimsical and emotionally stirring. Adams Company Dance, now in its 28th year, shares a unique look into the ways in which dance connects with the human experience. With three new films in the line-up, this night will have something for everyone!
This event is in collaboration with Peace Community Chapel’s on-going missions to help fight hunger in Lower Fairfield County, CT, with 50% of your tax-deductible ticket price going toward this mission. This year Peace Community Chapel will focus on a new goal of helping Neighbor to Neighbor, of Greenwich, CT.
On June 26th, in our good ol’ standby theater, Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, four tried and true dancers joined me in creating material for our new film, based on one of my old dance pieces, “Crooked Dreams.” Three of the four dancers were chosen from my Master Class earlier in June, so my excitement for new energy was palpable! I was impressed by the talent and sheer risk taking that they did, tossing their bodies into space, and trusting me with odd and unusual choreography. Brave young women — and without questioning! On deck was my general manager and husband, Don Adams, who kept me in line and made everyone feel very relaxed — he’s an invaluable player in everything I do, and I wouldn’t be here without him!
With my lighting guy, David Glista, at the helm of the light board, and my videographer, Faith Marek, raring to go, I made stuff up in a jiffy, and flew by the seat of my pants, in my inimitable style. With just a few quick notes for them on each scene I created, mood, tone, etc… we forged ahead right up until the next group was busting through the doors, impatient for their rental. Typical NYC dancers who can’t wait respectfully, and barge right in!! Okay, well, we might’ve gone over by 1 minute, but I thought I got the shots I needed, so we hastily grabbed our gear, traipsing out with dance clothes and bags dragging on the floor — reconvening in the lobby, where we wiped the sweat off our brows, and had a few sighs and laughs about our dramatic exit!
Heidi Sutherland had a subsequent rehearsal with me a few days ago, where I taught her sequences that will be woven into the mix of the film. What will this be, I ask myself? I really can’t say until I am in the editing room, and the stuff of my Jiffy-Mix comes to life, giving me fresh ideas as to how it all might be part of my Crooked Dreams!
Currently listed on A Growing List of Active Women Choreographers in Dance Magazine, Adams blends solo works from her repertoire along with uniquely crafted films, highlighting the soulful and whimsical voices of the solo dance experience.
Abstract films of solo artists have been a mainstay in Adams’ archives. From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Adams and filmmaker Amelia Golden weave dancers into their unique settings to create film shorts that are visually stunning, whimsical and emotionally stirring. New and past repertoire of solos dating back to 1998 will be danced live, interspersed with the films — celebrating the solo dance experience, in Adams’ visceral and awe-inspiring works.
Dancers featured in films: Annie Heinemann, Alana Kirzner, Jeremy Neal, James A. Pierce, III, Ryan Schmidt.
This program is supported, in part, by donations from generous supporters of Adams Company Dance & Peace Community Chapel. 10% of all donations made to Adams Company Dance for this production, are tax-deductible and will be donated to Peace Community Chapel, for their on-going missions to support the CT Food Bank. All donations can be made by clicking this link.
With many obstacles before me from last July til now, I finally was able to finish my film, “Something Fake.”Though we shot the footage last summer, my editor had moved from Connecticut to NYC, so finding the time to get together with her proved to be a challenge. In fact, the slow burn to the finish line probably got me a bit weary to create a shorter version, which I’m sure would’ve gone over better in the end than what I produced, but c’est la vie!
The symbolism of the piece unraveled in the editing sessions, where the emergence of the story occurred. The sections I choreographed were not purposely supposed to depict the Republicans and Democrats, but with the overt colors of red and blue from my film shoot, I couldn’t help but use that platform to construct ideas based upon the divisiveness of Congress; the red, hot topic of Russian collusion; and the inane ‘wall,’ depicted through the outdoor fence I found outside the theater. The flowing, red cloth in the film, seen in other works of mine, took on an entirely new meaning — Russian collusion. The staring eye through this thin red veil, reveals the evil eye of corruption.
Under my direction that day, the scenes I worked out were loosely inspired by the Helsinki Summit where President Trump ‘misspoke.’ Google it. At the time, it seemed to me that there was no other evidence needed to indict our President. Treason seemed palpable, but as the calendar pages turned, my coup de gras Helsinki Summit film theme, became lost in the shuffle of our 36-hour news cycle. More importantly, though, is the common thread of injustice in our government; and, as the bar for democracy is lowered, the level of farcical humor in our media is raised. As the children of our future will be learning about our current administration through social media, YouTube, and perhaps, artistic endeavors… keeping it all straight in the age of fake news will be their obstacle to sift through. If viewing this film can pair our day and age with a seed of truth, then I guess what I’ve done could be pivotal for future generations. And if not, art for art’s sake apparently is still in vogue!
2018 has been a year of feeling knee deep in the funk of our current political climate. Just when you thought nothing could get any worse, another story would unfold, making yet another stain in the fabric of our society. Out of this chaos always comes an artful depiction from artists all over the globe. February was when I felt the urge to go to my small corner of the universe, and create a piece for dancer, Heidi Sutherland. The solo we created, It’s Easy To Drown, was created and taped in Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts, then went on to be performed at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in KoDaFe in June. Heidi soared in her performance reaching new heights with her incredible technique and talent. See more of Heidi here.
Putting one foot in front of the other, I imagined how I might allow for a catharsis of the angst I was feeling about the Trump Administration. The collective sludge that started a mud slide of turmoil was gradually pushing me toward making a short film. My ideas came together in an array of scenes crafted for four dancers on a oven-hot day in July, back again at Triskelion Arts. Lights, camera, action and with no time to polish, the footage we got that day went in the can, as the guts to my new film entitled, “Something Fake.” With fits and starts to schedules and then my editor moving, the process of editing was as slow as molasses. Being a Jiffy Mix choreographer, it took all the patience I could muster to work on this project only here and there; however, I’m happy to announce that the premiere will be very soon!
My catharsis continued into late summer when I created a site specific work at the Halibut State Park in Rockport, MA. This time, my dancer-self came out to play, as serendipity met nature in three hours of improvisation, in the most beautiful place in New England. Footage from this day is on the back-burner, but the cooling effect of finding my peace is seen in these stills.
Fall went a little weirder and far from nature as I went into the studio again, making a piece that should’ve been premiered on Halloween, but ended up making its debut in November — again back in Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts. That theater has my footprints all over it, and I’m grateful for the tab not being too steep. Somewhere amidst the #MeToo Movement and the tumult of our times, came a dance trilogy hinting at a darker shade of pale. Coaching the dancers to find their own meaning within the work paid off, as each of them told their own inner story. In fact, I titled the piece, “Short Story.” It begins with a duet, goes into a solo, then ends with a trio– all of which were performed with fierce commitment to the movement. They sweat through several rehearsals before knowing what it all meant, but in the long-run, it’s up for interpretation — the ending, however, leaves no doubt about man’s evil spirit.
So, as the political scene continues to shred all sense of balance, and 2018 comes to a close, I find my strength in dance and the dancers that makes it all happen. It’s in their fluidity, their power, and their artistry that allows me to go knee deep into the magic of dance — and at least for the moment, helps me to rise above it all!
Adams Company Dance will premiere a new work, “Short Story” at Triskelion Arts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn tomorrow. Our videographer, Joel Stephen, will be on deck with two cameras going to capture the dancers while they dive deep into the material. The piece is a trilogy inspired not only by the #MeToo Movement, but also the massive disintegration we are witnessing on our world stage now. The three sections, a duet, solo, and trio, describe the burdens and hardships that we are undergoing in our society, but touch on the resolve we can find if we lean on each other for comfort and healing. Ultimately, the sinister nature of man is revealed at the end — a familiar feeling with where we are right now with our current administration. Please visit our photo album of “The Making of Short Story.”