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!
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!
The evening of May 4th was a magical night! The concert, Going Solo, went off without a hitch. I rarely say that a production went spectacularly, but in fact, it did! Six dancers came together after a whirlwind rehearsal experience, and knocked my socks off! Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn was lit up with high voltage dancing that Saturday, with an audience that enthusiastically supported the event.
The process of rehearsing with so many fits and starts, including two dancers dropping out due to injury and over-commitments, left me scrambling in a search and rescue mission last minute. It seemed the month of April was astrologically challenging us all, but through all the trials, and my dense schedule, the light finally was shed on our event — the special solos, both on film and live, came to life in magical ways. Each and every dancer had their stroke of genius on stage and screen, and whatever sorcery I was doing by pulling all the strings, helped me to unravel some karmic thread, no doubt, as for once, I could say, “it all went to plan.” Thank you, dancers!!
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.”
My featured image is of my post-production mess from our film project on July 20th in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at Triskelion Arts — a three hour project to channel my pent-up emotions regarding the Trump administration. In my Jiffy-Mix style, we whipped up a menu of choreography, images, acting, and site specific Godspell-ish meanderings. Satirically driven, the footage we shot will be made into a film short that at the very least, will let out a little steam that’s been building within. It won’t be Michael Moore in its breadth and scope, but will hint at the very things he and everyone else has been vocalizing about regarding the inane events of our day. We’re in a freefall, so while falling, I thought I’d take an afternoon to catch up with my artist-side. Four dancers came together, along with Joel Stephen, our camerman/filmmaker, and Don Adams, our line producer, to make a hot day a littler cooler! More on this project soon!
My messy notes
Dancers: Annie Heinemann, Paulo Gutierrez, Jeremy Neal, Heidi Sutherland
Adams Company Dance Performing on June 30th at KoDaFe in NYC, 7:30pm at the AILEY CITIGROUP THEATER!
An international dance festival held each summer by iKADA Contemporary Dance Company, KoDaFe in NYC brings together dancers from all over the world to connect through movement. Their shows are both Friday, June 29th & Saturday, June 30th. Catch Heidi on Saturday night’s bill! Artistic director, Mee Jung, who pioneered this festival, brings her own beautiful company to the stage, and shares it with a diverse group of companies, who are sure to delight!
Heidi Sutherland performs with ACD in, “It’s Easy to Drown,”a new solo 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. Heidi is an accomplished dancer who works with Synthesis DANCE. I was lucky to have found her last summer, 2017, including her in several projects since then. I can’t say enough about Heidi’s fierce bundle of talent, and vibrancy for dance! Hope you can make it! Go HEREfor tix!
A new dance emerged in my Jiffy-Mix style in the chilly month of February — a month that typically has me searching under the snow and hard ground for fertile ideas. Heidi Sutherland was willing and able to join me for what was to become a gem of a solo. We started it in a very tiny studio at Ripley Grier on 8th Avenue, where many-a-dance has been created. Within an hour and a half timespan, she sewed the movement into her skin and bones, and beautifully grew into what became part I, featuring emotional piano music by Pure Composition — btw, through a site I found that allows for a quick purchase of a music license. Part II started at Trisklelion Arts in Brooklyn on February 5th, where Heidi took her craft to a new level, with inspiring music by Tom Rosenthal. I came across Tom’s music while working out one day at the gym. A cool image showed up in my Vimeo feed and I clicked on it. I immediately started to move as I listened to the poignant lyrics, not caring if anyone might’ve caught me in between their grunts and lifts. A prolific songwriter/musician from the UK, Tom was kind to give me permission to use his piece. In another quick turn- around — about and hour or so — Heidi learned what I poured out with such alacrity, I felt she had been rehearsing the piece for a month!
Ok, time’s up!! In walks the videographer, Joel Stephen. Switch gears and start teching. Joel worked on Dream Spelland Ebb and Flow, and was thankfully available for this project. His eye for detail and top-notch camera work, allowed for smooth operations from camera’s rolling to the final credits. His laser focus instilled a great confidence in me. I set the lighting quickly, had one dry-run, and voilà — a dance was born! With three takes, each having a wide and close-up version, there was much footage to sift through. Heidi was a trooper and kept up such an athletic pace, I hardly could believe she made it through three run-throughs, each one dancing more vigorously than the next. That’s a true professional, and I am so grateful to her quick-study commitment to all the movement, and her passion to perform! She nailed it for the camera, and danced the story of triumphing over adversity — the story I keep telling over and over, ad nauseam!!
After a four hour editing session, Joel and I came to our final mix. What a breeze! LOL!! It’s the intricate work of editing that’s far from Jiffy-Mixing. Not bad timing, though, for all that we had to do.
So, why is it easy to drown? Go figure. It’s all of our stories, right? Like that old afghan that lays on the back of the couch, we’ve all sewn in our patches of hardships over the years to create our tapestry. Somehow, it soulfully keeps us warm and reminds us of where we’ve been… and just how lucky we are to still be able to pull it over our shoulders on a cold night in the winter. It’s easy to drown in pain, sorrow, debt, and tears, and I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve swum up to the crest of the wave, only to be swept away again. Each time the hanging out to dry process seems to get shorter and shorter with every passing year, but the distance to the water, where we might slip in… remains a close cousin — it’s easy to drown, but relative to our inner-strength, we become consummate swimmers in the waters of life.
(While writing this blog, I learned that Heidi’s dog, Gizmo, passed away. May she rest in peace and float forever in God’s love — oh and did I forget the mention the car accident that my husband and I were in this week? We’re in one piece, but the car was totaled. #5 not our fault on I-95 in the past 10 years — it’s easy to drown and this was one of the easy stories!)
There’s a fine veil between our physical and spiritual lives. Much of what is created in the studio is a product of what, I believe, is being downloaded from a higher source. From the rough, scrappy Jiffy-Mixes I create, to the finer works that have had time to age a bit, the process of allowing movement to come through me without too much deliberation has been my joy as a choreographer. 2017’s political climate wrestled with my spirit– I know I’m not alone here! As with most artists, I took to the studio and used the deep feelings from within to mix-up a variety of movement, inspired by our country’s state of conflict.
The timing of the year was filled with fits and starts. With many obstacles hitting me outside of my dance life, it was a slow start to organize events. Honoring my qualitative time with dance has become more important than quantity, so taking my time was part of the rhythm. The quality of dancers I used this year, some new and some veterans, sparked new frequencies of energy that started after my June Master Class. Not only did I love the experience teaching at Ripley Grier Studios, but I was so thrilled to have had a live accompanist, William Ruiz, to lead us through the hot, sweaty, rhythmic class — a high time for me, and per the feedback, a high time for the dancers, too!
Dream Spell was a highlight for me in August, when in just two-hours-plus, we created another one for the archives in our Jiffy-Mix series. The dancers (several chosen from the Master Class), were so inspiring, and that process of higher- source downloading, definitely assisted me through the day! New artists also appeared that day with our videographer and filmmaker, juicing-up the energy in the room even more! Joel Stephens created a film about the process of our day, entitled, “Ebb and Flow.” With music by collaborating artist, Nicole Renaud, it was pure energy in motion, filmed with an eye for innovation. Our day together also raised $750 for Peace Community Chapel’s SummerStock Fund, where donations went to: Bridgeport Rescue Mission (Bridgeport); Beth-El Center (Milford); New Covenant Center (Stamford); and Food Bank For NYC. Thank you to all our donors!
“Willing to Catch” was a special time for me in the Fall, working with four amazing artists: Claire Hancock, Paulo Gutierrez, James A. Pierce, III, and Heidi Sutherland. The two couples, dancing the same duet, embodied the movement with their own distinct styles, delivering a story from the heart each time they took the stage. From our NYC CBG Fall Dance Festival performance, to the Temple University Alumni Dance Concert, the grace and strength these dancers conveyed, superseded my expectations! I was so proud of them, and so honored to have had amazing photographers involved with our events, who captured the essence of my work, and the deep level of the conviction and passion of the dancers. Thanks to Christian, Noel Valero, and Bill H, for their time and talents! It was a joy to be back on the old stomping grounds of Temple during my residency this Fall, teaching to a new crop of fresh and eager dancers, who seemed happy to spend time with an old vet!
The best thing about the picture of Claire looking through the veil in the picture at the top of this blog (taken during the making of Dream Spell), is that that veil was from my Masters’ Dance Concert, roughly thirty years ago. It was then that I knew about the process of creating coming from a higher source. That veil was used in a solo I choreographed about a woman looking back at her life, and seeing how she triumphed over adversity — the great story of our time, and the irony of this year. An insider’s view from behind the veil will tell you that it’s all just an illusion — nothing remains the same, and everything is always changing. 2017 was on its way to breaking our spirit, but somehow we triumphed, yet again… we kept the issues of the day at bay, and let the spirit pour through us, washing away all that tainted the American landscape, and all the muck that got caught in our spiritual veils. Alas, we put the year to rest, and allow for 2018 to download all the goodness it has to offer! Happy New Year! And thanks to all the artists who contributed this year, and to all the ACD supporters!