Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Return of Marta Renzi

The bad news: the original evening scheduled for July had to be cancelled at the last minute because I got pneumonia - three weeks worth. But I'm back! Posting quickly in here as part of a massive blitz.
Good news is that the heat wave has passed. And due to a month's delay, we should now have sufficient darkness for screening, so Laura Harrison & I won't have to vamp quite as long in our intro as we would have in July. Sometimes things work out. 

Now we just have to hope the predicted week of rain ends promptly.  After many of years at the mercy of the weather because of outdoor live performances, here I am again. 

And happy to be so.

Sunday, June 26, 2022


 I'm very excited to share the news: a retrospective on my home turf a few months after the wonderful one at BAAD! Outdoors in the garden of the Hopper House in Nyack. A new program of about 10 shorts, with almost no overlap - except for the newest baby, Bronx Magic. Before reading any further, save the date: Wednesday July 13th. There's a rain date, but let's not go there...

When I first started submitting my films,  I would proudly post every single acceptance in here. Recently I've gotten a bit blasé, but Matthew Seig at Rivertown Film did the math to promote our screening: my work has shown in 38 countries in over 300 festivals. 

It's worth noting that Dancing is an Old Friend won best documentary at D'Olhar Itinerante de dance e video in Brazil. A pleasure to share the kudos - and a money prize! - with Jenny & Leah, my collaborators on that no-budget project made in the early months of the pandemic, still going strong.  And Wait a Minute which is just nearing its one-year anniversary, has racked up 16 festivals to date.

[Side note: for what it's worth, the two Renzi works that have the most hits in the internet-o-sphere are Cartoon Love, with 21,000+ and Aqua Booty with 13, 500.  Apparently, goofy sells.]

  Alexis Von Maluski, Brooklyn Toli & Crespo Rosario in Working Title at the Dragon's Egg

By the way, remember that May retreat in Connecticut I posted about? We got the job done! We made the first draft of an 8-minute trio, tried out costumes, and Emily Holden even sent us some musical sketches to keep us company. A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of fleshing out those sketches in the studio with Emily - I count myself very lucky to have found a willing musical collaborator for projects like Through Mabel's Eyes, Dancing/Friend, Skybridge, and ... 

We'll be sharing the new dance as part of a Dragon's Egg matinee showcase at the Henry Street Settlement House on September 24th, a very rare live outing for a Renzi work. But don't mark your calendar for that one yet: our focus is on July 13 July 13 July 13.

Occasionally in these posts I refer to my other part-time job of almost two decades, working at the Family Resource Center in Nanuet, not far from Nyack. For most of that time I was a Home Visitor in the Parent Child Home Program, reading with toddlers and their mothers in their homes. But for the last year I've been acting as Community Liaison, advocating for immigrant families as they make their way in a new country: helping register their kids for school, getting access to food pantries and insurance, attending doctors' appointments. And exercising my clumsy español sin vergüenza.

In fact, when people ask what I'm up to lately, I report how much more immediately rewarding my community work is than this arts sector stuff.  I mean, does the world really need another dance, or dance film? And my two worlds hardly intersect ... which is why I decided to post Las Madres here. (FYI, this one missed the cut for the Rivertown retrospective because the only file I have of it is pretty lo-res, as you'll see. When you watch, please be sure to enlarge it.)

To be clear, these weren't "my" families, but a group I was introduced to thanks to a Rivertown (no relation) Artists Workshop grant. We met once a week in a most-unlovely middle school classroom in Tarrytown; this short film of our time together is an uncommon melding of my arts and community- building personas. 

Because finally, the balance between the two worlds is what it's all about.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Miscellaneous and Upcoming

1. The Retro Renzi Fest at BAAD! was a gas. Such a wonderful LIVE gathering of collaborators, friends and family, with Charles Rice Gonzalez as a thoughtful interlocutor - and I even didn't hate my own work!

2. Farewell to Elena (Yukka) Taurke-Joseph who departed this earth too soon, but in characteristically profound+kooky style. Elena had been a collaborator, fellow-blogspot penpal, fan and inspiration for several years since we first met in Nyack. Do yourself a favor and read this her last post, in which she says goodbye to her body. 

                       a still from grand plié wheel chair bound, posted by Elena 3/16/22 

3. In the previous post I promised to spend more time developing choreographic material. Unlike some New Year's resolutions, I actually made it happen: from May 5-8 we're beginning to develop a new dance - a live one??? - in a self-imposed retreat at The Dragon's Egg in Ledyard Connecticut. The cast is three young dancers - Brooklyn Toli, Crespo Rosario and Alexis Von Makulski - all of whom who I first met in 2019 at Rhode Island College, working on the short film Tumult, and invited to join me later that fall for Through Mabel's Eyes.  

                     Brooklyn Toli at right with Aislinn MacMaster in Through Mabel's Eyes

What will we be making? In part, it's provoked by email correspondence which I've been enjoying recently with Yvonne Rainer who wrote this in response to my December blogpost: 

Hey dear Marta: Good to get your end-of-year report though a trifle envious of your productivity !! I love your work but offer a gender challenge that may or may not engage you: How about a trio where the guy gets lifted and tossed around by two women? Or any variation to offset the traditional heterosexual version? I'm sure your abilities are more than up to it.   

So there's mission # 1 - a "gender challenge." In typical fashion, I've prematurely decided on wardrobe: boots and utility kilts (and I still own the black workman's lunchboxes I'd collected for the 10HL dance that never transpired). Luckily this rehearsal period will be an open-ended process, with no final product required. Rare too, because I don't usually give myself the luxury of making material without leaping immediately to capture it.  

4. Join me on May 13th at 7:30 at the Hoboken Historical Museum for "A Celebration of Screen Dance" presented by the Thomas Edison Film Festival (former Black Maria, with which I've had a long history).  My Wait a Minute is one of the 10 short films in the line-up all of which are varied and clock in at under 11 minutes.  As a special guest, I'll participate in a Q & A with Jane Steuerwald of TEFF, at which we hope to generate lots of lively feedback from the audience. Or you can stream, the program from May 1 - May 31.

       Actually I have to update these laurels - we're at 12 now, and counting + 5,000 YouTube views. 

5. I'm also totally psyched about another creative residency still a ways off - at Firkin Crane in Cork, Ireland in November. With a dream cast: Selina Shida Hack, Anka Sedlackova and Tina Vasquez. I'm hoping to lure some local talent as well, so spread the word to all your peeps in Ireland.  Surely by then the embryo gestating at the Dragon's Egg retreat will have been born...

 ... and the displacement / war ? conflict / death in the Ukraine will have ended?

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Welcome news and a great honor for me: a retrospective of my short films screened in person at a venue that is dear to my heart. Arthur Aviles and I have curated a collection of work featuring folks associated with the Bronx, beginning with the 2007 Porch Stories which includes a duet for Arthur and BAAD! co-founder Charles Rice- Gonzalez ... and concluding with the premiere of Bronx Magic, featuring Arthur and another long-time muse Aislinn MacMaster. Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 19 at 8pm. 

March will also see several live screenings of Dancing is an Old Friend. As of the 2-year anniversary of this collaboration with dancers Leah Barsky and Jenny Tortorello Walker, Dancing has been selected by about 3 dozen festivals, but this is the first one that's live and local: the New York No Limits Film Series on Tuesday, March 15th.  Later this month Dancing will meet LIVE audiences at other fests, including one of my faves, Borrego Springs in California and Fescilmar - Session for the First Time in Argentina

Will we read this in a few months - a few years? - and marvel that live screenings were still a novelty 2 years after the arrival of COVID-19? Or is this just another brief opening, as happened in summer/early fall of 2021 when I managed to shoot both Wait and Minute and Bronx Magic outdoors in public? As of this writing, I'm just beginning to ponder spending time in the studio working with dancers on something new. 

What's that? Did I hear you say I rarely spend time in the studio anymore, virus or no? I'm afraid it's been too true; I've specialized in the run-and-gun.  But retrospecting has reminded me that I do enjoy concocting movement in advance with dancers - oh right, it's called choreography - and I hereby promise to give myself time for R & D in the studio before jumping into what we laughingly call "production."

I'll get a chance for R & D in November during a residency at Firkin Crane, "the home of dance" in Cork, Ireland. I've invited the Queen of Exploration, Anka Sedlackova, to join me there, and hope to rope in a few other European-based artists - maybe Selina Shida Hack who I had too short a time working with on Wait a Minute. 

And between the months of March and November? 

Stay tuned.

And while you're tuning, check out my Filmography and you'll see that there's been something of a worldwide retrospective of past work: 

Her Magnum Opus (Best Female Filmmaker) Toronto Indie Fest

Through Mabel's Eyes (Best Experimental Short) Lion Film Festival

Red Dirt Dances (Winner Achievement Award!) Krimson Horyzon

Wait a Minute (Bare Bones, Thomas Edison, Miami Screendance,   Central Michigan, Worldwide Women's Film Festival ...)