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.