Saturday, July 18, 2015

Reclaiming history

Let's call the summer of 2015 Throwback Summer, as I continue to post highlights from past work created for summer spaces - a suburban pool, a dock by a lake, and now the banks of the Hudson River. Fleet Week was commissioned by the River to River Festival and presented at Battery Park in 2005.  It was a no-brainer to commission Steve Elson to arrange and perform music played acoustic as it might have been on a turn-of-the-century pier. Because there was no electricity for this dusk-to-dark show I had to get creative with costumes. I spent hours sewing battery-powered lights on most of the costumes and researching hand-held light guns aimed by the dancers to illuminate the action.

In my online research to confirm the year that Fleet Week was presented, I re-read what I find to be a typically clueless review in the NYTimes.

Sailors frolicked with pretty women in long white dresses and illuminated parasols. Another dancer, wearing a gown and a wide-brimmed hat, shimmied across a bridge.  Even Ms. Prince, wearing a skirt that hid two children, made an appearance. But the dance seemed like afterthoughts in relation to the costumes and location.  With the enveloping dusk and her offbeat cast of characters, Ms. Renzi might have been going for something surreal, but the result resembled a Broadway set.  The nature looked fake.

Now that you've seen the video version of the event, what do you think? Is surreal one of the words that came to your mind to describe the aesthetic? Might the Broadway set actually have been an intentional reference? Did you wonder about why the costumes were so elaborate? What might have brought these offbeat characters together on a pretty summer evening on a boardwalk? And the architects that designed that simple arbor to frame the boats that pass the esplanade might have joined me in disagreeing with the conclusion : The nature looked fake. 

Ten years after the fact, I hereby reclaim history!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Screening somewhere in the world sometime this summer ...

                          Her Children Mourn

                   The Circus According to Cecil

                                Plow Plant Reap  



I admit it: I'm proud!
And now another little summer something from 2010.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Those Hazy Days of Summer

My only homework this summer is to recuperate from foot surgery. It turns out to be a perfect moment to take a look at some older work, including the one above which was made during a one-week residency at The Yard in the summer of 2008.  If you have time, I welcome you to take stock with me, traveling back through the years and meeting some of my favorite dancers.

That summer was the first time this particular foursome had ever worked, lived - and splashed! - together. During the same very productive week, we also made a live quartet called Cartoon Love,  with music by Steve Elson and lyrics by Daniel Wolff. In fact, if you look closely at both Days and Love, you'll see some moves they have in common. Hey, I only had a week!

Allow me to introduce you to the delicious - and distinguished - alumni of the Summer of 2008:

Mica Bernas 
had danced with me before in Cottonwood and My Feral Valentine, and is adorably mischievous in the just completed On the way to work. She also lent her personal story to Apple Tree, a short piece which focuses on her immigrant status. As of now, Mica is officially an "Alien of Extraordinary Ability" and dances with the Limon Company.

Caitlin Roben
and I met for the first time in 2006 when she joined in as a "community member" in the cast of Not About Paris Hilton at Williams College. Very soon after, I invited Caitlin to escape to the Dragon's Egg with me, where we made Thaw, stealing some material from Paris. Forced to share a room during that Martha's Vineyard residency, Caitlin and Mica later became roommates back in Brooklyn, and are still BFFs.

Carlos Gonzales
was introduced to me about a week before our gig at The Yard, and we both took a chance that he'd be a good fit for such an intimate and intensive week away from NYC. Later Carlos danced in the 2010 Brother's Keeperand more recently in my brand-new Honeymoon. A native of Cuba, and a graduate of Montclair University, Carlos is poised to make his Broadway debut in On Your Feet.

Rory Kaplan
grew up near me in Rockland County, dancing at Coupe Dance Studio. The only other time we worked together was on a hastily-shot and rarely-seen video called Scaffold. I keep thinking I should re-edit it, re-think the music...maybe as part of my summer homework? Rory is currently on Broadway in Jersey Boys.

Did I lose you on my way down memory lane? How many of the above links did you investigate? I hope this was an entertaining way to meet the talented dancers I'm lucky enough to work with, from project to project, over the course of many years.  While you're at it, you can help me take stock. 

Here's one thing I realize as I muse [read: sit on my ass] about next projects and new challenges: it's not so much that I expect to get better at what I do.  But perhaps I can deepen, by looking back, my commitment to the style and subject matter that historically appeal to me. Sensuality and joy and humor, for sure - and movement that feels like a natural expression of those. If I aim for a bit more depth, length or breadth, I don't think there's real danger my work will get too ponderous, trendy or slick. Let's hear it for these light-hearted, gentle, sexy pieces in a world that can be full of pain, violence and posturing.

I didn't self-deprecate one bit! So there!

P.S. Another solo study shot in a few hours one afternoon a few years after the one above. Also on Martha's Vineyard, with a different dancer in a different location. For the gluttons among you...

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Whittling and Wondering

Here's a trailer for On the way to work, which was shot on Mother's Day 2014, almost exactly a year ago, with some of the Project Co. regulars. It took so long for three reasons:  I was busy with other projects; I had a hard time figuring out what music to use; I kept whittling it down, and wondering if it was worth it.

The projects in the queue are just about completed. 

Bill Ruyle created traveling music on the dulcimer, which you're listening to right now. For the dance they're working on, I got to sample some of the rich sounds of Culai by Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin.

As for the whittling and wondering: It's whittled down about as far as it can go. Whether it's worth it: it has the feel of a work-in-progress about a work-in-progress. Here's the synopsis:

Tomfoolery and unfinished business means they could be headed for just any rehearsal, framed by a sly revelation about the sources of inspiration.

There's not a whole lot of sturm und drang in that narrative. But there's some truth to it: what we do in the studio is work - as well as play. A lot feeds into it - on the way from Grand Central to the beach, with movement sometimes taken from real life events. Its 7 minutes reflect something true about the delicate piecing together of thoughts toward movement - and the assembling of the particular human beings that bring both to life. 

You'll notice I only share trailer-length versions here, which may seem a little stingy.  I hope to pique your interest, and I'm also holding out for a public viewing, and/or a larger screen.  However, for the price of an email, or a comment below, I'm happy to send you a link to the full version of any of these enticements.

Or, for a public viewing on a larger screen, join me for A Thousand Miles from the Sea, which is showing in an evening jointly presented by the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance and DFA, and featuring works by Dana Gingris, Danielle Kipnis, Daniel Gwirtzman, Vrinda Sheth, Christine Turner and Ina Sotirova. It's always a party at BAAD!
Thursday, May 14th at 7:00 pm at BAAD. Free.