A painter walks out into nature for inspiration, finding it in the movement of a leaf, whitecaps on the water, laundry airing outdoors. We see the world as she sees it: now serene, now wild, at moments completely out of focus, at others hyper-detailed. Through her eyes we also see the world as it will be 75 years later: noisier, more populous, the landscape cluttered with housing and refuse. Six characters are revealed to us in the past, bound by gender and class, and then re-visited as their counterparts in the future, in surroundings that mirror the past, now altered.
A man wanders in the yew forest, an unread book near where he lies. A sailor rolls in the surf, sensually, with abandon. Two housemaids take a break from laundry detail. A man and woman eye each other from a distance near a tiny family cemetery. Life goes on, the land changes, people intrude, others seek sanctuary.
Through Mabel’s eyes, the viewer experiences these changing perspectives. Finally, our painter, dressed in modern clothing, drives her car up to a parking lot with the same farmhouse in the distance. We see that something from the past has been preserved from future degradation: the Norman Bird Sanctuary.
The ensemble for this one includes Renzi stalwarts Andy Chapman, Alberto Denis and Aislinn MacMaster, joined by 3 dancers from Rhode Island College whom I met while working on Tumult earlier this year: Brooklyn Toli, Crespo Rosario and Alexis Von Makulski. And from Newport Dominique Alfandre, who will channel Mabel Norman herself.
Only 3 dancers at most are ever on site at the same time - and each only for one day of rehearsal the day before shooting. Without daily rehearsals, I keep busy listening to possible music for the edit, sewing costumes, organizing schedules and locations, and doing some practice shooting with my cellphone. Daily bike rides to the ocean, star-gazing and listening to the wind clear the palate - or is it palette?
As this new project evolves, finished ones continue to travel all over. With an upcoming screening on September 20 at the nearby Jamestown Arts Center, Her Magnum Opus is still finding audiences, two years after its premiere.
Before 2019 ends, Dirt / Tierra Vermelha will show in Brussels and Thessaloniki; The Woods is an Official Selection of Frame x Frame in Houston; Where Love Leads shows in Cyprus, Mexico City and Yonkers. Thanks to old broads on both sides of the camera, dear Roxie was accepted by Women Over 50 Film Festival in England. And screendance maven Cara Hagan has selected Strategic Retreat to show in a program she's been invited to curate in Montreal as part of Regards Hybrides, which purports to:
"take a critical look at the interactions between dancing bodies and cameras through popular culture and low-tech creation. In a sea of technological innovation, what becomes of creativity on a human scale and its impact on our relationship with the world on a daily basis?"
Yeah, the language mystifies me a bit as well. But I get the part about "creativity on a human scale" for sure.
VideoDanzaBA in Buenos Aires has selected not just one, or two, but three Renzi works for its 24th edition: Tumult, Strategic Retreat and Red Dirt Dances. You and I won't be traveling to Buenos Aires to celebrate my Trifecta. But you can enjoy Opus and others on Vimeo on Demand. And a donation of any size will get you access to all you can view - a Renzi retrospective right on your couch. Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer for Dirt, which wins the in-house prize for clocking the most miles this month.