This is my yearly opportunity to share our piece with you, Undisclosed Recipients: A Tribute to MLK, Jr. The power of Martin Luther King’s words are as needed today, as they were during the Civil Rights Movement. We are losing grip of justice and equality in our country, and it is vital that we remember the “dream!”
Please enjoy this dance tribute to Dr. King on this auspicious day~
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!
Interrupted by a crisis of international proportion, coming back is not an easy task. Hybrid projects are emerging, as full stage productions are daunting, expensive, and not yet totally safe. COVID-19 has altered our lives, but as we strive to make a comeback, we’re encouraged to be arbiters of change. Summer poses new projects for ACD highlighting innovations outside the box. Watch for our announcements coming soon!
March 17th, 2021 — St. Patrick’s Day! For me, this day has significance in that I am part Irish. At the very least, each year I don my favorite green items from my wardrobe, and question everyone on my path if they’re Irish, and whether they plan on a toast to Ireland with a green beer. A year ago today; however, St. Patty’s Day marked the shutting down of my Jin Shin Jyutsu practice, along with the suspension of all dance rehearsals. No green beers or celebrating. Will this be go bragh, I wondered? In old Irish, go bragh means eternity or til the end of time. We all have been in the dark, and no one knew the timeline of this pandemic. Part of me was elated that I had some time off — I’ll admit it, but after a year of this virus robbing us of our lives, livelihood, and a beer at the bar, it’s clear it’s become an act of attrition.
Without dancers in the studio with me working out new choreography, while I hang onto the barre doing my pliés, admiring their talents… I feel a big hole in my soul. My Jin Shin Jyutsu clientele at least have their Self-Help practice with me virtually, or at least some of them, but it’s the pointing of feet, the wearing of the dance clothes, the schlepping of the dance bag to the sweat-filled studio, and those beautiful, hardworking dancers that I really miss. Yes, I worked a few projects over this past year remotely, and I am so grateful and proud of my dancers and editors that helped me pull it off, as they did an incredible job, but it’s just not the same as being in a physical, somatic environment. Weh, weh, weh… cry baby, I know!
We’re all adjusting and adapting — albeit difficultly, the shutdown has given me time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about what’s really important to me. And, also examining what I can toss out, including really big decisions, such as whether or not to go back to all of it at all. Yep, that’s been on the table! I’ve read announcements of companies folding, studios shutting down, and dancers fleeing NYC altogether. Just when I was thinking, “stand clear of the closing doors, ” my Father sent me a box of 15 new dance bags with my Adams Company Dance Logo. He had no idea what I was fleshing out in my mind, but just thought it would make a nice birthday gift for me to give out to my dancers. Was it a sign, I thought? Don’t give up? Perhaps I need to step back on the train. Not sure — who knows — but, what I do know is that they’re green. And today is the perfect day to celebrate ACD’s year of floating through the pandemic, while honoring the color of this holiday. So, as I may whimper about the loss of so much, I harken back to a favorite song from the 70’s by The Five Stairsteps, “O-O-H Child.” “… things are gonna get easier… o-o-h child things are gonna get brighter.” And I’ll keep reminding myself that ” … we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun… some day when the world is much brighter.” Who wants a new dance bag??
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!