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!
I recall in 2006, walking in on my first day as Associate Professor of Dance at Western Michigan University to my new office, which I was sharing with two colleagues, where I noticed on the shelf of the Jazz Teacher, Tony Calucci, the book, “Unsung Genius: The Passion of Dancer-Choreographer Jack Cole. I plucked the book off his shelf and said, ” hey, I know Glenn Loney… I work with him.” Tony’s response: “You know Glenn Loney??” “Yes, I do, I said.” I immediately felt a kinship with Tony, and it was that book conversation that ignited our longtime friendship.
After meeting Glenn in 1993 in Tenafly, NJ at my first Jin Shin Jyustu seminar (if my memory serves me correctly), I knew there among us was a very outspoken, witty, professor. We spent many times together in classes, until he decided to start coming to me for sessions in NYC in my first office on 72nd and Columbus, which I believe was in 1994. He would bring me volumes of old dance magazines, and periodicals that had mostly been out of print, that he thought should go to me. Dance Scope was one of them. Remember that one? Glenn and I had fun together over the years discussing theater, dance, his travels, photography, politics, religion, life after death, etc… our conversations ran the gamut, and Glenn was never at a loss for words. In fact, it was all I could do to have him sink into the table for some solitude for five minutes! Toward the end of his life, though, Glenn often was too tired to talk, and many sessions were all about the silence and the energy, after a short-debriefing on his condition. We had an understanding, though, and words really didn’t matter so much. Prior to that, in 2016, when he was still in full force, ACD honored Glenn with a lifetime achievement award at the Bryant Park Hotel at our screening: Behind the Lens. L.A. Times Dance Critic, Debra Levine, moderated. She had been working on a book about Jack Cole, and had interviewed Glenn about his work, knowing that Glenn was the foremost authority on all topics, Cole.
Glenn was tickled to have been honored, and told me how he placed the award on his mantel in his living room. He was so grateful, and it made me feel so good to have pulled off that night. I knew no one had ever honored him before in such a way, and though I don’t carry a big name to bestow such an honor, it was a huge deal for Glenn to accept it in a public arena. He had no problem taking the mike that night and reflected on his work, Jack Cole, and even managed to sneak in a few digs about the current political climate at the time!
Week to week, Jin Shin Jyutsu was what helped keep Glenn going, but cancer got him in the end. He burned the candle at both ends, but most brilliant minds historically do that — there’s simply not enough time to get all the things done that need to be done! He claimed that many times over. It amazed me that even when he was at his worst, he’d find the time to mail his package of theater paraphernalia to me, when he no longer could bring it to the office. It was filled with interesting articles from the New Yorker, playbills, reviews he had written, articles he wrote, quips, memes, photos, personal notes, tickets, and itineraries, and an occasional scarf, tote bag, and poster. Wow, Glenn! And, I know he also did this for others, as well. How in the world did he continue to do this over the years? He thought it was important for all of us to know a little bit of what was outside of our normal lives. He’s stated something like, …well you people in the suburbs don’t get to see all of this and know much of this, so I thought it would be interesting to you… Indeed it was, Glenn! Though there’s a hole in my practice without Glenn, he’s filled my heart with so much joy, and filled my head with so much knowledge, that I am satiated for all time with his memory. May he be remembered in our society as a man who exemplified greatness in all he did to bring the arts to a higher level! RIP, my dear friend!
Glenn’s archival reviews:
“Not only is Mitzi Adams a gifted choreographer, but she is also a life saver, being a master of Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient-Asian system for “hands-on” balancing of body-energy flows.”
“My favorites, however, were Mitzi Adams’Mother’s Day and Still. . . Without Wind. Dedicated to her late mother and ‘based on our dreams’, the first work was danced appropriately enough on Mother’s Day. With only a simple bright-red child’s chair as prop and partner, Adams subtly evoked the various ages of mothering, caring, and loving. It was beautiful, sensitive, and touching.” Glenn Loney The New York Theater Wire
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!
Autumn started on a busy note as two back-to-back weekends of dance loaded my schedule, but lightened my heart! With 26 years under my belt with Adams Company Dance, I still approach each project with the eagerness of a kid learning to ride a bike for the first time. Nothing ever feels mundane once I enter the studio and see the essence of beauty before me in each dancer.
Two teams of dancers made it possible to perform “Willing to Catch,” a new work which began in August, for both the CBG Fall Dance Festival in Soho, September 30th and October 1st, followed by the Temple University Alumni Dance Concert on October 6th and 7th. Dancers Claire Hancock, (a dancer whom I’ve known since she was seven!!) who coupled with Paulo Gutierrez ( a dancer who attended my Master Class in June); and James A. Pierce, III (longtime dancer with ACD), who coupled with Heidi Sutherland (another dancer who attended my Master Class)– took on the new piece with vim and vigor!
Talent pushed the boundaries with these duets, and with James also dancing the solo “Avec Moi,” at Temple– I think we hit a flush! The concerts gave a platform for the dancers to rise to new levels of grace, beauty and strength, and I am so happy to be able to have those qualities in perpetuity, with the wonderful images from each of the shows! See our albums below here:
Hats off to Joel Stephen for capturing an insider’s view to the madhouse process of our Jiffy-Mix event this past August! I went on a recommendation and was so happy I took the lead. Joel wasn’t shy with his camera work. In fact, he got practically every nook and cranny of the theater, with every angle, and even got onto his belly at one point ignoring the dust-laden floor! I gave him license to create with very few notes, and I am thrilled with his final film, Ebb & Flow.He appropriately calls himself a “Dreamer, Shaper, Thinker, Maker.” I wanted music that I thought would work well with his ideas, so my first impression was to inquire with singer/songwriter- extraordinaire, Nicole Renaud, to see if she would want to collaborate again, to which she replied, Yes! Her piece, Red, was what came to mind, and she generously sent me the instrumental version, which paired so perfectly with the film. Thanks to all the dancers for their hard work on that hot, summer day in Queens at the Secret Theatre! Enjoy our film short!
Want to see more “Jiffy-Mix” photos from the day? Click here.
Heidi Sutherland and James A. Pierce, III take the stage this weekend at Temple University’s Conwell Hall. They will perform a new duet, “Willing to Catch,” and James will perform a solo, “Avec Moi.” Alums from the Temple dance department are joining forces for these two performances, which are sure to delight!
A new duet takes to the stage today and tomorrow with the CBG Dance festival.“Willing to Catch,”features Claire Hancock and Paulo Gutierrez in tonight’s performance at 8:00p and tomorrow’s matinee at 2:30p. This premiere is dedicated to the 2017 hurricane victims.
A whirlwind of energy propelled our day on August 30th, at The Secret Theatre in Queens, NY, where seven dancers came together to stir up another one of Adams Company Dance’s Jiffy-Mix creations! This event was coined as our ACD Summerstock Fundraiser, in association with Peace Community Chapel (PCC). Using my Jiffy Mix model (short time-framed dance making, in an effort to reduce production costs, yet a chance to give dancers an opportunity to work), dancers are utilized for their talents, given a paycheck, and an opportunity to perform a new work that is professionally videotaped in front of a live audience. We were thrilled to have reached our goal and then some, through GoFundMe!
50% of the donations went toward ACD’s “Keep Dancers Working” Jiffy-Mix project; and the other 50% of the donations ACD donated to Peace Community Chapel’s “Summer Stock” Fund Raiser, which aided in putting food in the bellies of the homeless by helping to stock food pantry shelves in CT & NYC-based food pantries. A win-win for all involved!
Back to the theater… we aimed at starting at 1:00p and ending at 4:00p, but by the time we loaded in and got started, it really was about 1:20 or so. Yikes! I had a self-imposed goal of creating an 8:00 minute piece in about two and a half hours -how was I going to do that when I just lost so much time?
Well, with inspiring music and eager, talented dancers ready and willing, I was able to light a match under my butt and away we went. I really had little clue as to what I was going to do. In fact, I only really had the opening sequence, where I was hoping to set a tone, but from there, I was flying by the seat of my pants. It’s daring and exciting to be in this circus-like atmosphere, where we’re walking a tightrope without a net. I had themes in my head swirling around about disjointed dreams, iconic retro-style images from the 40’s and 50’s, a temptress-like woman who seduces the characters in her dreams, and yet becomes a lost dreamer–all seemingly poignant, child-like and slightly mad all at the same time. Stuff comes out when you’re put in a dark, steamy theater, complete with Grecian columns teetering on the edge of falling down at any moment. In fact, during the taping one of the columns did fall! How apropos! Nothing is firm, or steady around my process. It’s a risky, scrappy, undertaking of organized chaos–Jiffy-Mixes tend to be that way. I’ve grown to allow for the unrehearsed product that comes out just the way it’s supposed to be — a batter coming together with all the right ingredients to make up a quick batch of irregular dance muffins. How imperfectly perfect!
Dream Spell ended up being created and performed twice in front of a live audience all within our time frame allotted. Not only did we capture it on tape, but we also have a film being made about the process of the day. I sat with my editor and sorted through all the footage the next week until our dream landscape came to be a finished piece. Taking a step back and actually really watching what I had created, I was taken by the dancers abilities to throw themselves into the material — movement I threw at them! I honor them with all my heart, and value the day that passed like a blink of an eye. My dreams came true to reach our goals, but then again… I always knew that dreams do not solely consist of illusions!
June 28th was the perfect day for a Master Class at Ripley-Grier. It was one of those sunny hot days in late June where you either want to be at the beach, or in a steamy hot dance class. That’s when we as dancers can move our best–when our muscles are malleable, and kicking our legs up high is not really a problem. Other seasons we need a bit more warming up, but during this class, during this Summer season, all bodies were sufficiently heated up, where the sweat was beading off the many faces attending, and all dance attire was completely soaked by the end of the class. These dancers were not faint of heart. They worked hard and displayed a high level of confidence and talent as they dug into my technique and combinations.
Typically, I don’t hold auditions, as I feel that dancers don’t do their best under pressure, so I look for new dancers in performances, class or most commonly, I go on a recommendation. Holding my Master Class allowed me to invite a wide variety of dancers, and not only look for new talent, but also bestow what I feel is so important these days in the realm of knowing a higher potentiality with dance and self-care. This seems not to be talked about in most classes in our current climate.
I was honored to have William Ruiz to accompany our class. Somewhere in my past travels in the subway, I heard William playing and grabbed his business card. Thankfully, I was able to find it in my wallet and called him to ask about playing for my class. Luckily he was available, and we immediately were speaking the same language. Pulling out all the stops, he effortlessly went from his Conga drum to his tongue drum, all the while blending his ankle bells into the music. William supported my combinations with exciting rhythms and the dancers really enjoyed the synergy of the class!
I loved seeing the transformation of the dancers within our short two hours. Once you give them an allowance to be themselves — to take risks and fall down if you have to — you really see them rise to another level of their craft! I look forward to our next time together, sweating it out and sharing our bliss of dance and music!
The bonus of the day was finding out that Ripley-Grier will be taking over the DANY studios up the street! How did I find that out? I ran into Stas that day, the studio’s right hand-man. After a big reunion hug, he asked if I wanted to say “hi” to Butch, the studio’s owner. “Of course,” I replied, and happily accompanied him to his office. “It’s been too long,” we both said. After two-plus decades of renting from them, I got to know Butch, and always valued his kindness and keen entrepreneurial ways. NYC would not be the same without him. He shared pictures of his daughter’s graduation, which blew me away, as I remember her back when she was just a toddler. Time flies when you’re having fun dancing all these years! He pointed out the window and explained that he took over the DANY… “See the sign? Coming soon?” Oh wow! I was thrilled to know someone of such high caliber took over that iconic space which has been a New York treasure for many years. With all the spaces closing in NYC, it’s nice to know there’s a decent takeover happening — the likes of which will keep dancers sweating for many generations to come!