Thursday, July 16, 2020

SO overdue

Like me, I suspect you've been experiencing Quarantine Time: weeks seemed to drag by and suddenly we were 100 days in.  We mark time's passing in different ways. Since March I've become quite habituated to a schedule of 3x/weekly Meals on Wheels deliveries. Partway through the pandemic I started a daily series of 30-second nature videos on Facebook most particularly for my NYC and shut-in friends, recently posting Outside #82!  In early June I hit the 1,000 mark of masks sewn for Nyack MaskMakers, and was told we'd stockpiled enough for the next surge.  A few days after George Floyd's killing, I joined a group of residents protesting nearly every afternoon in downtown Nyack. In fact, lately the balance in my life of making art and actively working for change feels just about right. Social justice IS climate justice / there's no art on a dead planet.

Then the dog days of July arrived with a hot-and-humid bang as we all prepared for some kind of opening - only to buckle down in earnest as news of spikes in the south and west make us tremble again. All this time it felt almost unseemly to be crowing here about the ups and downs of my brilliant career. Nonetheless, I decided to post, finally, to prove that time hasn't ground to a complete halt. 

Jenny Tortorello Walker & Leah Barsky who'd danced with me since they were teenagers at Coupe Studio invited me to make a dance about their friendship - remotely of course. They spent a few weeks chatting over Zoom and sending me footage via WhatsApp.  It was a truly collaborative project, and completely zero budget. For those of you who have heard me whine endlessly about music permission, you'll find it ironic that I was utterly delighted to be able to pay these accessible and talented artists for the use of their music at this moment when all artists are so under-employed. It's called Dancing is an Old Friend and it will actually premiere at Mobile Dance Film Festival at the 92nd St Y - remotely of course. Previews have been very positive - and funnily enough, there's more dance-y dancing in it than most of my "dance films."

Delighted with the response to Drift of the World (below), I was glad to collaborate on a second video with poet / husband Daniel Wolff, called Brinks. No dancing (or ducks) but a chance to create a visual world that neither illustrates nor distracts from a powerful poem concerning history and revolution, both personal and political. Zero budget again - unless you count the six-pack I had to buy (okay, okay ... and drink) in order to gather the necessary footage. Check it out.

Meanwhile there have been quite a few festival outings for quite a few of my films - remotely of course. Imagine my disappointment in not attending Athens Marathon Film Festival - that would be Athens, Greece where I've aways wanted to travel - to receive the nomination for Best Editing for Through Mabel's Eyes.  The award for Best Director bestowed by Trail Dance Virtual Film Festival for Her Magnum Opus was gratifying - remotely of course. Roxie was part of a "Watchalong" at Women Over 50 Film Festival; Through Mabel's Eyes is soon to be shared at Senior Movie Film Festival in Poland and Moscow Shorts in Russia; In search of lost time at Experimental Music & Dance Feedback Film Festival and Rogue Dancer. Tumult screened last week at ReelHeART which is based in Toronto - they even had an awards ceremony remotely of course - and is an Official Selection of Choreoscope: the first time my work has been accepted by that Barcelona festival.

And finally, I've been invited to direct a dance film with Island Moving Company back in Rhode Island, where I've had the pleasure of working so often.  This will feature choreography by co-artistic directors Mikki Ohlsen & Danielle Genest, and cinematography by Jon Gourlay who did such beautiful work on Mabel, our first project together. We've all been in conversation - remotely of course - but I am delighted to report that we'll be shooting IN PERSON albeit with masks and social distancing.  And then of course, I'll have all that luscious footage to keep me busy as fall arrives. 

And with the arrival of fall, perhaps some good news, starting with a new president. Please.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

All virtual all the time

Although many festivals are postponing their celebrations until it's safe to congregate in person, others are creating virtual festivals, making their archives viewable for free for the duration of the pandemic. One such is the venerable Black Maria Film Festival which has been in existence for 39 years, and has included Renzi work multiple times. Now you can view over 100 films as part of the virtual festival, including 3 of mine: Her Children Mourn, A Thousand Miles from the Sea and In search of lost time.

Skybridge, made pre-pandemic, will have its premiere as expected, at the Hunter College Dance Concert on May 9th at 7:30. However,  instead of being the outlier in a concert of live work before a live audience, all of the work will be shared on screen - not as expected.

A new world. Time will tell if it's a brave one.

Meanwhile, I've kept busy sewing masks and volunteering at People to People and Meals on Wheels. With all of my collaborators and locations on lock-down, I've had few opportunities to make work. But here's something "directed by" me - not a dance film but a thoughtful poem written by Daniel Wolff accompanied by some scene-stealing ducks.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Coronavirus Calendar

In case you read this in the next few days ... there are two online festivals sharing Renzi work.

begins Friday April 3 at 8:00
via YouTube Live Stream, time-sensitive, obviously.
Over the course of 3 days, its programming will include 3 Renzi films: 

Her Magnum Opus  (Saturday at 7:30 EST)
Where Love Leads 
Through Mabel's Eyes

It may seem like an odd way to "premiere" this newest film ... but then these times are nothing if not unprecedented.

Moving Body - Moving Image
Saturday April 4 at noon
two 45-minute programs plus added bonus films, including Her Magnum Opus.
May it bring some balm, since its synopsis begins: 

"A circle of friends gather..." - and not on Zoom.

Another laurel - again online - for Through Mabel's Eyes 
is from a festival in Bucharest, Romania called Film in Focus. It's not clear to me how this one works ... again, the usual rules are suspended, even for "Official Selections".

Friday, February 21, 2020

Just the facts, ma'am

Below, the trailer for Skybridge, the new videodance I made last month with students from Hunter College, in the glassed-in bridge that crosses Lexington Avenue. Creating screendance work with college students over an intensive week, often during their winter break, seems to be my new niche.  Luckily, I had the freedom to make whatever I wanted, and the support to make it in a killer location, not to mention access to music composed and performed by Martha Mooke and my current go-to, Emily Holden. 

I'm looking forward to the premiere of the full 9-minute piece at Hunter's Spring Concert April 23-25.  Meanwhile, another intensive college project made in 2018 with students at Slippery Rock University - Where Love Leads -  will screen in Poland at one of my favorite festivals: Dances for Camera during Short Waves Festival. Skybridge is just beginning to be submitted to festivals, where I'm afraid it will compete for attention with Through Mabel's Eyes, a longer work and perhaps a harder sell. If only my so-called "niche" was a more recognizable "brand."

For those of you who are free to combine a stay on beautiful Cape Cod with a chance to dance,  I'll be creating what's billed as a community dance - meaning come one, come all - at The Castle Hill Center for the Arts.  It runs June 8-13, and the pitch is: We are already dancing ... so please do come, all!

Finally, here's a story only an elder can tell. Thirty years ago, I made a dance called Ophelia with teenaged dancers from the Steffi Nossen School of Dance, including Anna Canoni, a 4th generation modern dancer (her grandmother was Marjorie Mazzia who was in Martha Graham's original company.) Apparently, the experience of making Ophelia was memorable enough that Anna, now on the Steffi board, invited me to return to work with the current group of 11 responsive and beautifully trained teenagers. At the moment it's entitled The Council of Living Beingswith its young cast embodying an active response to the climate emergency, with performances April 2-4 at the Performing Arts Center in Purchase, NY.

Meanwhile, I've joined Extinction Rebellion (XR), and last month proudly participated in occupying the NY Comptroller's building in Albany, urging him to divest in fossil fuels. 

It's coming, folks, and we are not ready.