IN PURSUIT by DANIEL PETTROW
How do we fill the space of a loved one who is no longer there?
What is left behind?
Is there residue of that person seeping into our lives?
Or do they bubble up at unexpected moments like flashes in the dark?
What does it mean to be a “ghost”?
These are the thoughts that dance in my head as I’m working on the new creation IN PURSUIT by Anabella Lenzu.
I began collaborating with Anabella on this new dance piece shortly after her father passed away. The loss of her father was still fresh, raw, and jarring. We didn’t know where we were heading when we began rehearsals, but we had a starting point: stories about her father and stories told by her father. In early rehearsals I started each day by interviewing Anabella. They were simple and direct questions about what her father was like (working at a printing press and coming home with his hands covered in black ink), what he was fascinated with in life (hypnotism and auras), and funny, quirky anecdotes (ways he would trick Anabella into taking medicine when she was a little girl).
These interviews created source material that we began to work with. Eventually we recorded them and played them in the room like a radio. We wanted a detached or removed quality to these stories. We wanted the quality of something that you only get a glimpse of every once in a while. Something that can shut off at any moment.
Visually for the piece Anabella collected images that focused on objects and locations that revealed dramatic change over time, deterioration, disappearance, and entropy. These shattered collages were overlaid in the space with a projector to create a dynamic environment. The projections revealed the literal space we were working in while at the same time covering it with an image that dynamically changed how we felt in the space as viewers.
One element that was discovered in rehearsals was the relationship between Anabella and the dancer, Lauren Ohmer. Anabella would carry the projector and follow Lauren throughout the space. As we rehearsed I thought it was fascinating to have Anabella in the space exposed like that. Literally she was the choreographer observing her dancer close up. The more we developed the piece, the more it gave the impression of a ghost following a body around a space. It also created the feeling of someone trying to examine a foggy memory to gain clarity.
As we continue to rehearse it has become clear to me that this piece is about the impossible attempt to capture an ‘essence’ of a father who has passed away. Even though the attempt is impossible, it is that struggle which becomes fascinating. Anabella’s struggle to conjure the image of her father and his dramatic influence on her life as a choreographer and person has become the drama.
What are we left with? A ghost? A haunting? Or perhaps the residue of this journey seeps into the cracks of our fingers like ink, leaving a subtle imprint echoing what was there before. Now it is gone, but somehow, beneath the skin, it is a part of us forever.
Daniel Pettrow has been an associate actor with The Wooster Group since 2006. He has performed in HAMLET, VIEUX CARRE, and WHO’S YOUR DADA?. He is also an instructor at The Wooster Group’s “Summer Institute.” Daniel is a frequent collaborator with Bluemouth inc, and has presented DANCE MARATHON at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Daniel works closely with French Director Arthur Nauzyciel, having performed the lead roles in Jean Genet’s SPLENDID’S, Bernard Marie Koltes’ BLACK BATTLES WITH DOGS, ROBERTO ZUCCO, and Mark Antony in JULIUS CAESAR. Daniel directed Marie Darrieussecq’s THE SEA MUSEUM for FIAF’S “Crossing the Line” festival. The production took place in Brooklyn’s abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel – the oldest subway tunnel in the world. He directs sketch comedy group “Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting” at The P.I.T. Film/TV includes: “In Stereo”, “Red Band Society”, “Good Eats”, “The Cult of Sincerity”, “The Last Adam”, “FightF*ckPray”, “Psychopathia Sexualis”, “Kathy T”, “My Uncle Sidney.” Visit his website.
Pettrow has been collaborating with DanceDrama since 2010 as a director, voice and acting consultant/teacher.
Celebrating its 9th Anniversary, New York based Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama presents :
In Pursuit of Happiness by Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama
Wednesday, September 30 at 6PM at Argentinean Consulate (12 W 56th St, New York)
20 minute performance followed by Q&A and refreshments.
Friday, October 23 at 8pm, Saturday, October 24 at 8p & Sunday, October 25 at 8pm
at The Alchemical Theater Lab, NYC (104 W 14th Street, New York, NY 10011).
Limited seating! Tickets online https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784
Choreography: Anabella Lenzu
Direction: Daniel Pettrow
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer & Anabella Lenzu
Music Landscape: Todd Carroll