Anabella reflects on AL/DD’s transformation at its 8th Anniversary
I recently had the chance to sit down with Anabella and discuss her company’s development, it was founded 8 years ago this year. Since 2006 AL/DD has given 250 performances at 75 different venues. Anabella reflected on the transformations her company has undergone as a result of her own personal development and the landscape of the arts in New York City. As an Argentinean she was often forced to go against the cultural norms she was raised with to gain success in this new environment.
Anabella returned to New York at Thanksgiving time in 2005 in the capacity of a choreographer. She had previously been working in Italy and London. This move marked a large cultural shift for Anabella. Italy has 10 governmentally funded dance companies while New York City alone has 3,000, not including freelance artists, that must all fight for the same funding. While working in Europe she received funding from the government and was assisted by administrators who handled all of the PR and administrative work necessary for her to produce her choreography. Upon arriving in New York she secured an internship at The Field which allowed her to gain hands on experience in arts administration so that she could begin to manage all of these elements of her company herself.
Her company has taken on many forms over the past eight years (outlined in more detail in the timeline below), from four original dancers to nine at the peak and then reduced again to two. Anabella has not only learned to adapt to the new culture she finds herself working in, but also the important lesson than artistically less can be more. With this final reduction of her company’s size, she has had the opportunity to focus more intensely on her art.
This principle is apparent not only in her Company’s size but in her general approach as well. She has minimized administrative work to prioritize studio time and her own personal artistic research. As her family has grown this trend has picked up speed. She has also discovered the venues and other artists in New York who have similar values and approaches to her own and has narrowed her focus to this group including dancer Lauren Ohmer, musician Geoff Gersh (of the Blue Man Group), Daniel Pettrow (of the distinguished Wooster Group), and Todd Carroll ( School of Visual Arts faculty). Within these collaborative efforts she has found herself artistically which has allowed her to perform in a diverse set of spaces from outdoors in Union Square Park, to Governers Island and many others.
Anabella has also shared her personal growth with her students. She is a passionate educator, teaching at Universities and Studios across the greater NYC area, who loves guiding her dancers on their own personal journey through dance. This also manifested in a bilingual book (Unveiling Motion and Emotion) which spreads Anabella’s ideas beyond the scope of the students she encounters in the studio.
Anabella has recently found that many of her peers have experienced a similar transformation in their companies as well. She concluded our interview by saying, “all of us have many kids, or one kid, and work in collaboration with one or two artists – it’s interesting that the mid career artists that I know have been reduced in terms of their company and staff, but our work gets so intense because we have less time, and additionally our personal involvement grows. Sometimes less is more.”
- In 2006 she premiered her company with Amen, as an invitation as residence artist at Dance New Amsterdam (DNA), currently Gibney Dance. She originally worked with four dancers.
- She continued with these four dancers in 2007 during which she received an artist in residency from Chashama, and also served as a guest choreographer for Anna Sokolow DanceTheater Company and New Dance Group Company.
- In 2008, Anabella expanded her company from four dancers to nine. She received another artist in residency, this time from Dance New Group (currently DANY from the Joyce Foundation). This gave her the opportunity to create The Garden. 2008 also marked Anabella’s first fundraiser. She was unaccustomed to seeking financial support from her friends, and continues to feel discomfort when doing this today. This was also the year her first son was born, and consequently she reduced her company, this time returning to six dancers.
- In 2009 she premiered The Corral at the Merce Cunningham Studios (now a rehearsal space for The Graham Company.) Anabella’s work has always been political, but this work was also somewhat personal as it reflected on the state of affairs in Argentina, Anabella’s homeland. Anabella also began her Summer Intensive Workshop this year and it has continued since.
- 2010 marked a continuation of her delving into the political and personal when she premiered, The Grass is Always Greener… This work, a re-staging of which is currently being performed as part of the Art In Odd Places Festival reflects on immigration, an issue very close to Anabella’s heart as she was deported herself in 2001.
- She continued to work with this work in 2011 and performed at Baryshnikov Arts Center, the tenth anniversary of her deportation.
- In 2012 she received less financial support but was given an artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC) which allowed her to rehearse intensively. Anabella views this as a further artistic turn of her company. She reduced her number of dancers down to three and was able to premier a new work, Sangre and Arena (one of Anabella’s proudest achievements choreographically)
- In 2013 she was also granted a residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center and Envoy Enterprises and produced Pachamama; Mother World. Both Sangre and Arena and Pachamama delved into the relationship between ritual and performance. Anabella also published her first book Unveiling Motion and Emotion in this year and has since offered over 10 book presentations.
- She once again received a residency at DMAC in 2014 and has been working on her newest work In Pursuit of Happiness which is currently set to premier in 2015. 2014 also marked the beginning of Anabella’s DanceDrama Laboratory Workshop Series which covers a diverse set of topics every month such as choreography, improvisation, and methodology of teaching.
Anabella is profoundly grateful to receive the invaluable support from Friends and Family as well as institutions including Edwards Foundation Arts Fund, MATERIALS FOR THE ARTS, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education, Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), The Puffin Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund over the last 8 years.
Article by Sarah Rose (AL/DD Marketing/ Development Intern)