How to photograph an idea.
How to photograph a movement.
How to photograph a life.
Article by Courtney Kenyon (AL/DD Marketing/ Development Intern)
In February of 2014, Anabella Lenzu, Argentinean choreographer who moved to New York 10 years ago, lost her father. After just being granted an artisan residency at DUO Multicultural Arts Center, she decided that now was the time to step away from her political piece and try and create something that wasn’t necessarily an homage to her father, but focused on the memories and moments she kept with her now that he had passed.
While we sat down to discuss the ideas behind this new abstract way of using photography so heavily in her piece, Anabella remembered that when she and her husband moved to New York, her father had told him to photograph everything that they saw, and once they returned to Argentina, her husband’s photos could be displayed in a gallery. They never got around to taking the photos until now. Anabella set out to rehearsal in downtown Manhattan and began to photograph anything she was drawn to in a completely unconscious, non-specific pattern. She would take photos zoomed in so tightly that you might not even realize what the object was. She would take pictures of things she saw on her travels that were broken or covered in graffiti, or decaying. She took pictures of construction sites, walls, even a rusted nail on the ground. The choreography of this piece; In Pursuit of Happiness isn’t abstract however the photos are, creating a really thought provoking juxtaposition.
After approximately 5 months of this process, Anabella decided to start to really look at what she was photographing. Each photo she took had some kind of connection to her father. Anabella says that the photos were “…a safe media that allowed me to express how I feel and it was much more in a way, safe or secure because I didn’t need to articulate my ideas with my dancers because it was something emotional.” The photos became a coping mechanism for her while working through the grieving process. In these early stages, it was easier to be behind the camera reacting to what she was seeing rather than what she was feeling.
Her husband sent her off to rehearsal one day with a small cordless projector and a slideshow of everything she had done so far, telling her to just ‘go play around’. Anabella and a friend began to pair dance with the photos and saw magic. The photos created a costume on her dancer, along with an “emotional and atmospheric environment”. Once this process really got rolling, Anabella continued to take photos to enhance movement she had choreographed, including photos of her father’s old printing shop back in Argentina. This organic, fresh new style of choreography and performance, Anabella tells me, is extremely metaphoric. A father projects on his daughter, just as Anabella projects her photos on her dancers and audience. Anabella’s father projected on her, just as Anabella projects on her own children and her students. It’s about the feeling and the presence of her father in her life instead of a scrapbook full of photos. People leave us with feelings that can be universally understood, which is what Ms. Lenzu hopes the audience takes away from this piece.
Be sure not to miss In Pursuit of Happiness by Anabella Lenzu/Dance Drama. Preview performance at the Argentinean Consulate- Wednesday, September 30 @ 6pm (RSVP required). Public premiere at the Alchemical Theater Friday October 23 @ 8pm through October 25. Limited seating! Tickets online https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784
For more information check out AnabellaLenzu.com