This time honored solo is worth a replay on Mother’s Day. This special piece I choreographed on myself after my mother died, has been one of my sweet gems in my repertiore. It was uniquely crafted to include a narrative about a dream my mother had where she saw me dancing with a red chair on stage, and a dream I had about my mother dying. My mother and I shared our dreams with another back in 1994, and then just weeks later, she passed away. I entrusted this dance to the exquisite, Julie Fiorenza, in our “Going Solo” Concert in Brooklyn in 2019. She brought everything to the table in her performance. It’s with great honor I share this theatrical display of beauty, and sheer emotion with you, as Julie graces the stage. Happy Mother’s Day!
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.
Illusions lie beneath the surface
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.
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.
Dancers Selah Piett and Christopher Taylor take the stage after just a few short rehearsals to bring out the flavors of this piece made during the 2021 on-going pandemic. Enjoy this photo album of their work, as well!
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.
Stay tuned for our short film coming soon!
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!