Join us tonight for the premiere of our new film short, “Solely United.” This film short embraces the human spirit at its core. Woven amongst three sections of poetry, and featuring spoken word and dance — this poignant, experimental interplay between two performers, invites you into a mystical journey of darkness and light.
Our film footage was shot on February 2nd, 2023 at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY, and with the magic of my editor, Val Gomez Acosta, we whipped together this rare experiment pulling levers, in a couple of dozen hours. The day at the theater was another one of my Jiffy-Mixes, where when all was said and done, we probably were working only 2.5 hours.
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!
Enough Said, our new film short, has reached its completion! Paulo Gutierrez, my dancer extraordinaire, poured out his heart and soul into this work. The tattoo on his right arm caught my husband’s eye upon viewing the first draft. “We Can Be Heroes,” it says — a symbolic message dropped in my lap, exemplifying the emotion at the center of my heart. This project seeped out of me as I was editing. As mentioned in my last blog post, our day-shoot in February worked its magic with what seemed like a fairy dust sprinkling of creativity. Tareek Jones, a talented new editor that came on board with me at the end of last year, has been steady pulling levers and making my vision appear before my eyes. I was surprised at how quickly the process went, even with one of our sessions working remotely. I’ll allow you to interpret as you may, as to what the meaning is, but if you’ve followed my prior posts, I assure you, you’ll be on my same page. Enough said.
In February, when the ground is frozen, and the chill in the air makes a person want to stay inside, the seeds of something new seem to simmer within me. So, year after year, you’ll see that this is when I’ll typically skip into the studio, eager with inspiration.
Last month was no exception. Paulo Gutierrez, a strong, passionate dancer, happened to be free when I asked him if he wanted to do this project. I had worked with Paulo over the past five years, and knew I could trust his artistry to skillfully script our day together at 520 8th Avenue, (Ripley-Grier Studios) — one of my favorite haunts through the ages. I had in mind to book several studios that day within the building, all with a different color scheme, to add a little texture to our footage. With little material to go on ahead of time, we waltzed through the day, as if I had a great plan. Perhaps I was more reliant on my intuition and spontaneity, trusting that what would be, would be.
After sliding, falling, jumping and climbing upon a grande piano, and dancing through every inch of the spaces where we we visited, the day ended in a dismal back stairwell, where we got our final shots. It felt like we were on a wild ride, exposing the most vulnerable to the most brazen parts of ourselves. This was personal, yet somewhere within the fairy dust of what we created, was a deep message shared by humanity — I look forward to sharing this message soon, once our editing waltz reaches the last measure!
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 my own 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 — unconsciously created about my sister. 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, we celebrate, we crumble and sink into the long days of loneliness and grief that engulf each day… a stark reality cloaked in an outer coating of what still seems surreal.
The empty chats with well-meaning friends turn the calendar pages, one month after the next — a dry, run-down sort of relationship, that aims to build memories, but instead just ticks the time away.
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.
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.
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.
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!