Friday, August 01, 2014

Can't keep up

The big news is the Book of Breath mini-tour, which included a glorious evening on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob's Pillow.

Being back at the Pillow was a treat for me, returning to a series I had helped inaugurate 30 years ago, presenting work to a large and lively audience, enjoying a prodigal's welcome.  It was also a reminder that I do love making and sharing work in a live situation, especially outdoors. Eight dancers and a big ole table - and presto, modern dance comes alive! The 8 Manhattanville students got to stroll through history, adding their signatures to the wooden walls of the Inside/Out dressing room, gracing the stage for an audience of over six hundred. 

We’d preceded this triumph with 3 days of rehearsal at Marta Miller’s beautiful outpost in Stamford, Vermont – and followed it with 2 performances in a Quaker meeting house in Newport, Rhode Island as part of the Great Friends Festival. And it was, and I do have!

Her Children Mourn just screened in Roca, Spain, just north of Portugal - and will also screen as part of Autumn Shorts in Somerset, Kentucky at the end of September. The (electronic) mail continues to bring unexpected boons that brighten my day. Recently, I heard that both 890 Broadway and Wildwood were accepted into a festival in Brussels called L'art difficult de filmer la danse.  Last year the same festival selected Her Children Mourn. I guess our definition of dance – or difficult – must agree.   

Upcoming, from August 10th to 16th, I return to Harbor for the Arts Festival in Cape Charles, Virginia to cast, choreograph shoot and edit a short film. The cast will be untrained locals, the subject to be determined. Am I full of trepidation? Yes. Will there be enough time?  Never. Then in September I'll be heading to Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania to work with Jennifer Keller, a faculty member, to make a video dance with students there.  We've allotted a bit more time, and Jennifer will shoot, but there’s the same trepidation.  How much should I (can I?) plan in advance? Which music? Who are the dancers?  What’s the story?

But the recent blossoming of The Book of Breath encourages me that I’ve made these leaps of faith before. Its seed was planted almost a year ago at our first rehearsal - outdoors on a lawn, with my car radio for playback, eager if not experienced performers, and no idea what was coming. The students were ready to work as an ensemble and absorbed the movement quickly; the music immediately defined "character;" the location upended academic expectations and inspired; shape and form emerged; and we ended up at Jacob’s Pillow!

I have to trust something similar will happen again. And I’ll report back here on the results. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Proud, honored and anticipating

Proud ...
to be a recipient of a CSA commission from Rivertown Artists Workshop (RAW) to create a new dance work.  These individual commissions are made possible with support from shareholders in RAW's Community Supported Art project, partially supported by an Arts Alive Project Grant from Arts Westchester.

I propose to work once a week over the course of several months with Spanish-speaking girls and their mothers in the Tarrytown community on a dance film. My first encounter with a select posse of middle school girls is scheduled for a summer afternoon at a local ice-cream shop - talk about a power lunch!

Honored ...

to trumpet the ever-expanding list of film festivals that have not only screened, but awarded HER CHILDREN MOURN:

SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival - Best Score
Athens Internat'l Film Festival - 2nd Prize, Experimental Category 

and upcoming screenings:

July 12 
July 26 
August 1-17
Columbia Gorge International Film Festival (Oregon)

Anticipating ...

a summer with plenty to keep me busy.  Join me!

Sunday July 13 @ @ 2:00

Dance Film Sunday in Rosendale, New York
an all-Renzi program featuring 3 narrative dance films
Thursday July 24th @ 6:15
Jacob's Pillow Inside Out stage
Book of Breath & The Great World Spins
Friday & Saturday, July 25 & 26
Great Friends Dance Festival
The Book of Breath

Also anticipating ... 

a premiere screening of THE CIRCUS ACCORDING TO CECIL, as yet unscheduled. I've gotten glowing advance praise from some tough critics. 

          I love/loved every frame.  As an old documentary person —so rare to tell a story 
          so packed with information and still be relaxed and very very much fun to watch—it    
          will have a long life, there's nothing like it...
                                                                                           Suzanne Weil
                                                                                           former VP of PBS programming 
It was absolutely fantastic.  It was beautiful, it was fascinating, it was a wonderful work of art in itself that showed such insight into the artists it portrayed, including "Cecil," its central figure.  When MR photographed the performers, she never lingered too long on any one thing, and yet each fragment seemed to capture some delicate, subtle little move or gesture, and somehow the personalities came through as well, and so did the whole vast group of people all connected to one another. Along the way, it showed that circus and symphony orchestra are a wonderful combination.      
                                                                                                      Wallace Shawn
                                                                                                       playwright & actor

You've been listening to the music of the 30-second trailer. If you know of a venue who'd like to preview or screen it, I'll send a link to the full opus.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ante up

I could use your help.  Most times I manage to streamline projects - "directed, shot & edited by Marta Renzi!"  Other projects, like the recent A Thousand Miles from the Sea, pay for themselves.

But this summer I am taking 8 dancers on tour to perform The Book of Breath at Jacob's Pillow and then to Newport for IMC's Great Friends in Newport Rhode Island. Friends & family are providing housing, but paying for gas and food for 8 will be a challenge.

So in this post I ask you to dig into your pockets and make it possible for us to share our work without losing our shirts. 

There's a DONATE button at your right, where you can do just that via PayPal or most credit cards.  Or you can mail me a check the old school way payable to And Dancers Inc.

12 Castle Heights Avenue
Nyack, NY 10960

It's tax-deductible.  And in return for a donation of $20 or more, I'll send you a DVD copy of one of the pieces you've enjoyed in excerpt form while visiting here. Just let me know which one, and to what address.

And lest you think I only share excerpts for paying customers, here's a trailer for my latest. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Let me count the ways. 

Grateful that you navigated here to read this and to watch the trailer [above] for Wildwood, grateful that it's possible to create a virtual audience in the blogosphere.

Grateful to Faith Catlin for making it possible for me to work/play with these 9 girls at Loch Lyme Lodge in New Hampshire last summer, and grateful to the girls for their unselfconscious daily play so much like memories of my own lucky childhood. 

Grateful that my films have been finding their way to general audiences, in addition to those at dance film festivals. I'm eager to see which sorts of programmers embrace Wildwood.  I'm primarily submitting to festivals in the children's category, figuring that even some of my faithful dance on camera presenters may draw the line at children skipping through the goldenrod...

Grateful that - drum roll, please - my first long-form documentary, The Circus According to Cecil is finally completed, a year and a half after I started.  My previous two shorter documentaries Where the Dance Is and Arthur & Aileen, were more obviously dance-related.  But several early viewers of Circus/Cecil have commented that the point of view, the editing, the choice of circus director Cecil MacKinnon as subject, clearly show the eye/hand of a choreographer.  In which category will this one find a home - documentary, family-friendly, arts-related, woman-centered, children's, dance/film?

Grateful as well for works-in-progress: the almost-completed Rhode Island College project from January, an upcoming return to Cape Charles, Virginia for a community-based film project and a growing list of festival appearances, some too far away...

March 24th
Utah Dance Film Festival
Provo Library, Provo, Utah
screenings of 890 Broadway and Her Children Mourn

March 30-April 4
Dances with Camera
Poznan, Poland
screening of 890 Broadway

April 1-6
Imperfectu International Film & Gender Studies Festival
Tijuana, Mexico
screening of Brothers Keeper

April 11-16
Athens International Film Festival
Athens....Ohio !
screening of Her Children Mourn

...and others closer to home. I'm especially grateful when I get to see my audience in person, like at the live performances and screenings coming up this spring and summer.  I plan to be in attendance for all of the following - hope to see you there!

April 25th
92nd Street Y Fridays at Noon
Dance Lineage- James Waring, Aileen Passlof & Arthur Aviles
screening of Arthur & Aileen

April 26th
SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival
screening of Her Children Mourn 

May 15th
Rivertown Artists Workshop
The Warner Library, Tarrytown, New York
talk & screening of Children, 890 Broadway, and Wildwood

July 24th
Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
Becket, Massachusetts
The Book of Breath and The Great World Spins

July 25th & 26th
Island Moving Co's Great Friends Festival
Newport, Rhode Island
The Book of Breath