Black and Blue, 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!
Thanks for attending our premiere! This event is now over. Please check back soon for the public availability of this film, Honkin’ Red High Heels!
This is NOT a commentary on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Red Shoes,” but yet, I am combining red shoes with dance in an entirely different way to premiere, Honkin’ Red High Heels! On New Year’s Eve at 9pm, be prepared for about 16-minutes of a bizarre new film short from Adams Company Dance made remotely in its entirety during the 2020 pandemic. My editor extraordinaire, Joel Stephen, happily took on the project with me.
Featuring three beautiful dancers working out of their home settings, while donning their flashy red high heels, either on or off their feet — this film has something for everyone! Experience their outdoor environments melding into their rooms, and their red shoes appearing like a Cheshire Cat on a hidden branch. Tricks will be played on their soles, as their consciousness drowns in the waters of the unknown. Diving deep into the psyches of these three, bold, woman… you’ll witness the raw layers of themselves unravel in this Alice in Wonderland-like experimental film short. With music from hard-driving drum beats layered with lazy saxophone riffs, to warm piano ballads, and sad violin lines — this musical medley ends with a droning electric guitar that brings all the emotions to the surface — eerily pressing on a 2020 nerve!
Joel Stephen has been on the editing team of Adams Company Dance both on camera and in the editing room. His tireless efforts working with my zany brain, have paved the way for many projects, culminating in this last passion project, Honkin’ Red High Heels. During this pandemic, we never saw one another except on Zoom. After first sifting through hours of iPhone footage sent from the dancers’ Zoom rehearsals with me, and later sending the core files to Joel, we assembled the pieces of this weird jigsaw puzzle over a period of approximately two months. Thanks to his technical prowess and creative input, this film would not have been possible.
Join us at 8P for the premiere of our new film, “Sidelined,” on Vimeo. After four tedious months of remote editing, we’ve finally completed our film, “Sidelined.” Using raw footage shot on 2/5, long before we were sidelined, — this short film revolves around the themes of quarantine and the pandemic. It started out loosely based on the idea of the lack of spirituality in our society today, but unconsciously, there was something being channeled that cold, winter day. As the days and months unfolded into the crisis our world was facing, the film’s fate twisted into new meaning. Read our blog about the details of the film shoot day here. Take a sneak peek into some of the images of that day here.
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!
Fall has always been a fertile time for me. The harvesting of artistic endeavors with the crisp autumn air seems to be the perfect mix. October 10th was a day to remember. With fits and starts to the day, the final showtime at 7:00p at the Bowtie Criterion Cinema in Greenwich went off without a hitch. Well… there were some hitches, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, shall we say. Describing the events leading up to “pressing play” will remain in the vault, but I will share this one funny incident. Well, not so funny to me at the time, but it proved to be a talking point after the show.
The projectionist was using his laptop with my portable hard drive plugged into it. He said he put it in airplane mode, but did he? While in the middle of one of my films, Ancestry.com downloaded and covered the screen with all the details of the projectionist’s profile. 911! He was out of the room managing other films at the time, so I texted him, “hurry quick!” About a one and a half minutes went by until he rectified the situation and got things back to normal. It seemed like an eternity to me. The biggest joke going around afterward was, “imagine if he had erectile dysfunction in his genetic make-up!” Okay, don’t sweat the small stuff. It all went well in the end and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, despite the hiccup.
Our new partner, Greenwich’s Neighbor-to Neighbor, attended and spoke prior to the film about their organization and how there’s real need even in affluent Greenwich. ACD in association with Peace Community Chapel, stipulated in our event that our film night would donate half of the proceeds to them. It was a real eye opener to have their director describe in detail about food insecurity in the town. We all were so humbled and grateful to know that what we were doing was serving the greater good of humanity.
Behind the Lens, already having had three runs in NYC prior, gained a few films in the line-up, somehow completing a big cycle for me, with my final film, “Crooked Dreams,” taking front and center in my schedule this Fall. I took out my documentary on the making of a dance, leaving room to fill in the space with the newer films I’ve created. Blending the old with the new seemed to round out the evening, and I owe everything to my executive editor, Faith Marek, without whom I couldn’t have pulled this off. We spent hours and hours editing, and enjoying dinners together, as we witnessed the days getting shorter in the process.
It may seem from the outside looking in that I have all my ducks in a row, that I’m highly organized, and endowed financially to be able to produce the way I do. A big NO! My brother once gave nicknames to all my family members when we were young. My nickname was “beautiful mess.” Indeed, that’s me. All the stars have to be aligned to produce a film, but trust me, I continually was off in outer space getting caught in one black hole after the next to make them. My karma has been to have no umbrella, but good visibility in the rain — to have no idea where I’m headed, but to end up in the right place — to have only two nickels to rub together, but to end up abundantly pleased. The messiness of life has stirred-up my inner terrain a large percentage of the time — the advantage; however, is that it colors all that I’ve created, and with this Fall of 2019… all is at its peak!
Mitzi Adams, Artistic Director of Adams Company Dance, will present “Behind the Lens,” a 90-minute film screening of a compendium of their independent art dance film shorts at the Greenwich Bowtie Criterion Cinema, October 10th at 7p. From the Baryshnikov Arts Center to the shores of Silver Sands State Park in CT and everywhere in between, Adams and filmmakers Amelia Golden, Benjamin Moss, Joel Stephen, and Faith Marek, weave dancers into their unique settings to create film shorts that are visually stunning, whimsical and emotionally stirring. Adams Company Dance, now in its 28th year, shares a unique look into the ways in which dance connects with the human experience. With three new films in the line-up, this night will have something for everyone!
This event is in collaboration with Peace Community Chapel’s on-going missions to help fight hunger in Lower Fairfield County, CT, with 50% of your tax-deductible ticket price going toward this mission. This year Peace Community Chapel will focus on a new goal of helping Neighbor to Neighbor, of Greenwich, CT.
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!
June 11th was an exciting day for me. First off, I ditched Manhattan to teach at a studio in Long Island City — a nice departure from the usual studio haunts that I hang out in. RWS Entertainment has cavernous studios, allowing for great across-the-floor combos and leaping on long diagonals. I was planning to spot new faces for upcoming Jiffy-Mix projects, so I offered it as an audition/master class. The sign-up was overwhelming, and the class was full!
Five of my hearty dancers were there to help demonstrate and be the strong leaders in the band. The talent was fierce, including a handful of athletic men to balance the female presence. It seemed no one was rocked by coming out to this location, and in fact, it was quite easy to get to. Class with an accompanist is my preferred method of teaching, and I wasn’t going to allow for canned music with a Master Class, so I looked into my files, and found Mangue Sylla, a distinguished musician from the Alvin Ailey School. Djembe drums have been a favorite of mine in modern technique classes, as the sound moves through your body from the depths of your soul. I loved playing my claves along with him to accompany the dancers. The three-against-two rhythm is embedded in my hands from a percussion class I took in grad school. Mangue and I grooved on that one for awhile. I loved the interaction between us, as the sound poured throughout the studio, and I lost myself in the music.
My dancers engaged in my technique without missing a beat, (as they get me) throwing themselves into whatever I gave them, offering precise visuals for the new movers. The heat was turned up high and the dancers all broke a good sweat — so I simmered them down afterward with a little Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-Help — a perfect way to bring the high energy to a collected calm before they departed for their next engagement. Lots of hugs, handshakes, and gestures of kindness passed through the door after our two hours together. Many new faces showed up and danced their very best in that class, without a number on their chest, as in most auditions, but with a love of dance in their hearts — a sight to revel in and remember for years to come! And yes, success with finding a few new artists — though I could’ve chosen most all! Check out our latest Jiffy-Mix to see who some of them are!