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!
Put down your devices and come join me for two hours of dance jamming that will bring you back to the basics, and raise you up to a new level of your technique! I can promise you two hours of getting to know yourself. If you have what it takes to pull out your technique, make a mess of yourself and have no regrets, and can inform me that you know your somatic body and how it works from the inside-out, than I’m interested in you! My classes are built from a fusion of techniques learned over decades of being in the field. I’ve drawn upon the teachings of pioneers who carved the way for modern dance first hand. Perhaps I am in the last generation of those that have studied with the Masters of Modern Dance, a few of whom have since passed. I have been the student of many of their students, as well– company members of those pioneers. Most of them are still alive, but eventually they die off, and so on and so on… the techniques trickle down slowly, but eventually the trickle becomes a weak stream. Uh oh! Lookout! We can’t lose these precious pearls of wisdom! They have to be passed on or we risk losing the essence of our ancestry. I’ve absorbed and digested the goodness of my mentors, and have gathered ingredients that sing their praises, yet I have kept my finger on the pulse of the dance culture of today. The resultant material I offer in my classes filters through a sieve of my past experiences. I hope you’ll glean from the colander of nutritious gifts I have been given through the years! African drummers will accompany this class for an overall upbeat experience!
Master Class with Mitzi Adams – Seeking strong male and female dancers for upcoming projects!
Registering now for a Master Class in Contemporary Technique for Int/Adv Dancers, with Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director for Adams Company Dance, now in its 26th year.
A sought-after Master teacher who has taught at numerous colleges and universities thought the country, and currently listed on A Growing List of Active Women Choreographers in Dance Magazine, Mitzi Adams has been choreographing works for the past twenty-six years and has received numerous awards and distinctions for her choreography.
After 25 years of making dances depicting the human condition, relationships and the comically absurd, this year allowed me to look back and honor the dancers, the dances, and the archives of Adams Company Dance through the ages. What a gift to have been able to do the work I have been doing for all these years! I surely could’ve given up many times when the going got rough. I recently told a former student, who just started her own company, that the key to success is tenacity. It’s not all about talent or luck in this field, but it is about how well you can stick to it when the odds are against you. Balancing it all has been a challenge, but passion always trumps — oh dear, there’s that word… Talk about challenges we faced this year, and one can only imagine what is to come with this guy in office. Ughh!
Through trials and tribulations on both a personal and global scale, I marched through 2016, with a bit of a ball and chain feeling I was dragging around. However, I know I was not the only one. My steadfast and stalwart rehearsal studio, ” The DANY,” closed their doors from the weight and pressure of the economy. Oh no! Thank God for trials though, as that is the stuff of creativity and art — but c’mon — enough already, 2016! I chose to celebrate my dancers, however. They are the committed ones that came through the muck and mire of their own personal trials, and like the phoenix rising from the ashes, they helped navigate through, using their ultra-talented gifts to fuel our choreographic endeavors. I owe everything to them! Take a look here at their beauty in motion!
Most fondly, I will remember the dancers who showed up this year and performed in and attended our events — a reunion of my saints — who marched in some way, for some part, through these dance fields for the past twenty-five years, all who contributed to the essence of ACD; and, just like the postmen — through rain, sleet, snow, and hail — they delivered, no matter the weather… and that’s tenacity!
Friday, October 14th, 2016 at 7:30p
Venue: The Bryant Park Hotel Screening Room
Location: 40 West 40th Street
New York , NY, 10018
Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director and Choreographer of Adams Company Dance, will present “Behind the Lens,” a 90 minute film screening of her award-winning documentary, “Except At Night: The Making Of A Dance,” and a compendium of short dance films. From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Adams and filmmakers Amelia Golden and Benjamin Moss, weave dancers into their unique settings to create film shorts that are visually stunning, whimsical and emotionally stirring. ACD is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!
This event is in collaboration with Peace Community Chapel’s annual coat drive for the homeless. Your tax-deductible donation will go toward this year’s goal of 100 new coats.
Prior to the screening, acclaimed author and dance/theater critic, Dr. Glenn Loney, will be honored with a lifetime achievement award for his many accomplishments.
Adams Company Dance Screening at:
40 West 40th Street
New York , NY, 10018
203-829-4767 (for more info)
“Where do I begin? To tell the story of how great a love can be?” Sound familiar? The theme from Love Story is a little corny, I admit, but true. Twenty-five years of a deep, passionate relationship to dance, the dancers, and the craft we’ve created together throughout the years, is a moving, telling story of love. Dance has been an ultimate channeling that has colored and shaped everything I’ve produced. Though more often than not it’s been a tough journey to stay afloat, being in the company of dancers has always kept me feeling alive. “In the company of dancers,” is what spawned Adams Company Dance. “C’mon over and let’s share in each other’s company, and if the mood strikes us, we’ll dance.” The name felt more like it came out of my living room than from a director’s chair, which is why I never named it, Adams Dance Company. The backward notion is more me– plus it’s a great conversation starter.
From the early stages of my career, I backed out of traditionalism and leaned toward the human side of making dance. It seemed from the get-go that I was not meant to engage in a big touring company with my name at the helm, and cookie-cutter dancers working beneath me. Most rehearsals focused on the process of creating, and allowing the dancers to add their own voice, and nuance. I never liked in performance for my “choreography” to be overshadowing the story. In other words, let the dance do its thing without the obvious outlines of the craft. If the dancers are really genuine, sensing their weight, and musically aware, the lines of choreography are blurred and you focus on the beauty. This comes from a deep trust in the studio, and from the human element of the artistic process.
25 years ago when I came to Connecticut from Arizona with my husband, I morphed my post graduate studies into my emerging career as a choreographer. 1991 was the beginning of renting vans, and schlepping props to venues throughout NYC. Back then, it seemed doable. It was easier to mobilize all units and get the job done. Dancers were ready, willing, and eager, and opportunities were always there, without paying to be involved with them. Really! Now, you have to pay on PayPal to apply for a gig–more on my thoughts on that in a blog to come! Taking care of the dancers that have worked with me has always been a priority. Providing pay, and a letter agreement to ensure all equality, was essential to allow for the dancer to feel that they were being honored, and accounted for professionally. It was never enough for all they contributed, but in the long-run, the gift of dance made up for the lack of remuneration they really deserved. I am so grateful to all of them for their loyalty and dedication!
From East to West and places in between, I carried my spirit of dance through these past 25 years. Performances wracked up, and dancers have come and gone, but the process will always be the gem I remember most in my heart. The times when stories were shared, tears were shed, laughter rang out, hugs were given freely, and new relationships were forged. That’s the company of dance I’d like to continue keeping! That’s the love story that I hope keeps unfolding. Stay tuned for our Fall events celebrating our anniversary!
In an attempt to overcome my deep emotions over the loss of my mother, I choreographed a solo entitled, “Mother’s Day,” circa, 1998. It took me three years and six months, after my mother’s death in 1994, to be able to get my legs under me enough so I could go back into the studio just for me. It’s easy to work with others, but putting myself into the ring with my shadowy self, was like walking into a dark alley, facing the fear that I might be accosted, or trip on a crack and fall unconscious. So, that time came and went, and I am still alive to tell about it. Phfeww!
As all artists draw upon their pain and suffering to create their art, I, too, was going to revel in my psychological pathos, and use the tools I had, to be responsive to what was lurking deep within me. I had a red chair. That was my tool. It was after my Mom told me that she had a dream that she saw me on a chair, dancing on a stage, that I found it. That was just before she died that she told me that dream. I, in turn, told her the dream I had. It was a dream that she died. She said, “sometimes dreams of death are not always about the person dying.” However, Mom, that dream was a prophetic, and so was yours.
I used my Mom’s and my dream as part of the narrative of my piece. It turned out to be more of a theatrical dance, rather than a “dance-y dance,” and it just seemed to pour out of me. It was just before Mother’s Day in May, when I premiered this solo at the Cunningham Dance Studio, back when Merce was still alive. Backstage, against a dusty, dirty wall, I placed a picture of my mother, took a deep breath, and walked out onto the stage to perform. I felt her presence with me on the dance floor, stirring me to tears.
So, now May 2016, with all cobwebs cleared away from the past, I can engage fully with my mother at any given moment. Though I have no children, I have felt like a mother for most of my life. The joy of functioning as a nurturer has brought enriching experiences into my life, and has even allowed me to help when one of my dancers lost her own mother. The hurt and broken places, within many of the dancers that have worked with me, has opened doors to healing while we have been in the creative process together. Sharing this closeness, through which transformation has always been the result, is what makes me continue to want to create. Without a mother’s love, there’s no telling what might appear in your dreams. Happy Mother’s Day!
The seasons of this past year imparted new information to me, most differently than most years. 2015 brought waves of new energy in, as each season came and went. Beginning with the frosty chill of February, when we made our film, “Hush Little Child,”when the bitter cold was whipping at our feet, we went deep into our creativity. We felt like the mail carriers delivering mail, no matter what the weather, as we trudged through the snowy botanical gardens. The frozen parts of our souls were melting into our editing, as Amelia Golden and I, churned out another film short, complete with symbolic threads that apparently were just beneath the surface of winter.
Next wave was when spring sprung into action. After a bear of a winter, palpable change and transformation were in the air. I was inspired to return to my piece, “Miles,” to contribute again to the IKADA Dance Festival in NYC. Spring allowed me to get my mojo going and invite understudies into the rehearsal process, which made for a fun and productive time. My niece, Alana Kirzner, and dancer, Gierre Godley, (returning to the role), worked their magic with the dance, melding their energies together with beauty and strength.
Summer washed in a wave of energy when our film, “A Dress in the Stream,” was screened at Triskelion Arts Film Lab, at their new, funky location in Brooklyn. We were honored to be among the first participants of their new film lab series. It was an evening of uniquely crafted films, and a chance to hob nob with their creators. This summer also found me housecleaning a lot. Not only did a few dance shoes leave my collection, but I also decided to overhaul my website, as it felt like a necessary thing to do, and long overdue. Those hot, oppressive days inspired me to go deep, and find what I really wanted to keep and what needed to be tossed in the annals of my site. My website had felt like an old shoe wearing out with the many years of its treading the web. So, after finding web developer, Greyson Schwing, I was put to work making all the needed changes.
I also was delighted to work with dancer, Annie Heinemann, in the heat of the summer, entrusting my vintage jazz class to her, for the purpose of bestowing it to future generations of dance enthusiasts. Posterity worked as a great workout for us, as we ball-changed and isolated ourselves into a pool of sweat, which lingered into the fall, when we seemed to have mostly pulled it together for safe keeping.
With the crisp air and the colors of the leaves deepening, more inspiration was in my midst. Dancer, Claire Hancock, (from my blog, Fall in Love With Claire), was able to find time to work out a new piece with me at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, “Drift.”Anyone who is lucky enough to work with this gem of a dancer, knows that whatever she touches, turns to gold. And so, with the knowledge that she was in town for only a couple of short days, we jumped into another one of my Jiffy-Mixes, and I all too soon was lost in awe. Art in any form is art, even without a professional staging, for which we didn’t have the time. So with this project, I respected the process, and how the raw performance, superseded the product.
So, after the arduous task of gathering, building, and tweaking my new website, the autumn saw the launch of MitziAdams.com. It’s a work in progress–we all know, you never arrive, it’s never done, and it’s always more for yourself than anyone else. FB: Like! I also was happy to be on a panel of lecturers again this fall with the dance students at UMASS. My colleague and former dance partner, Paul Dennis, is a distinguished faculty there, and it’s always a good time to share with the younger group of hopefuls, and shed light on the topics of dance survival.
Alas, the final wave of 2015 was Behind the Lens 2, slated for the Producers Club Thanksgiving Week. After some grueling hours in the editing room, I had my film in hand and was all set for my screening night. As a matter of course in the theater, there’s always technical issues that can crop up, but thanks to my tech-savvy husband on board, a click of a few switches, and a shout of “the show must go on,” we screened our film, ironic as it was: Behind the Lens— what goes on behind the lens. It proved to delight the crowd of some of my closest colleagues and admirers– the after party in the lounge saw more tech problems, though, as the the bartender forgot how to measure, but no one seemed to care!
Finally in December, I enjoyed the season of light… no rushing around for me. I was at peace, and so grateful for the waves of dance experiences the year had brought in. Season’s Greetings were year-round for me– very indulgent, indeed! What a wonderful gift to be able to reminisce at the close of the season… Happy New Year!
Having duende is a rare gift as a dancer, and if you’ve ever experienced laying your eyes on a dancer who has it, you’ve surely had your socks knocked off! Claire Hancock has duende, or a soulful, heightened state of emotion, different from your average performer who may be good technically, but is just missing that extra something. If you’ve ever seen a good Flamenco dancer, you’ve seen duende in action. Claire makes you yearn for more after you’ve seen her dance. Her lines, grace and technique are obviously eye catching, but then there’s that plunging into the energetic force within her that makes your hair stand on end. She’s simply one of my favorite dancers, and I was so happy to jump into the studio with her, for a couple of short days in New York this Fall, while she was visiting.
I’ve known Claire since she was seven years old, and now she’s a mature artist, making her mark in the dance world as a dancer and talented choreographer, with her own dance company. When I first met Claire, her parents were my teachers at the University of Arizona. Claire would sit backstage and watch as we all danced around her, but somehow she felt like one of us, and we all welcomed her into our big, happy dance family. I saw her mom and dad, Melissa Lowe and Jory Hancock, perform frequently, and they never failed to blow me away. I also had several occasions to dance with them, lucky as I was, and each time was an energetic high, that to this day, I’ve never quite experienced — so, I guess it’s fair to say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Back to NYC, where Claire was using a natural GPS, leading her to experience just about every good thing that New York had to offer, and not just dance. Indulging in every aspect of arts and culture contributes to the educated artist that she is. She comes and goes, but each time she digs her heels in a little bit deeper. I found her visiting in September, and the timing was right for us to embark on one of my “Jiffy-Mixes.” Time was of essence, as she was soon to leave, but in only two short rehearsals, we whipped together “Drift, “ a dance conveying the idea of transitions in life, and how they inspire putting us in a new places and new directions. I asked her tune into her senses and write about what she was experiencing during our short process together — and we used that text to set the tone. Drift was caught in the raw at the Baryshnikov Arts Center– Misha was in the next room rehearsing — the sun was shining through the big windows, and I was in my ultimate delight — drifting into a deep, emotional place, as I witnessed the best that Fall had to offer.