Article by Courtney Kenyon (AL/DD Marketing/ Development Intern)
Anabella Lenzu’s grandfather decided to move to Argentina after World War II. He packed up and became a construction worker. His son, Ms. Lenzu’s father, knew construction wasn’t the life he wanted, so at age 18 he developed his own printing shop. This kind of hard work is what Anabella has used as inspiration for her newest piece. Her father and her Grandfather knew hard work, just like dance is hard work. Anabella grew up around construction sites and her father’s print shop. She learned how to lay brick, build walls, and how to work with the printing press from watching her father and grandfather, all while dancing since the age of four. Young Anabella lived in a world of texture.
At the start of their process, Anabella and her dancer, Lauren Ohmer, began to research how to build a wall, how to lay bricks and how to mix cement. As they explored, the choreography became instructional, like the videos. As Lauren is very precise and technical with her movements, she was able to improvise like ink flowing through a printing machine. Lauren was able to become the ink, or become the texture of the sand and lime.
While improvising in the studio, between March of 2014 and March of 2015, Anabella and Lauren began to create phrases, and experiment with changing directions and trying movements backwards or upside down. This is not a piece full of miming, but it’s about the abstraction about this idea and the feeling of building a wall and the feeling of printing with real ink. This is not a piece where you will see Lauren acting out the process of any of these jobs.
Anabella tells me she “never worked this instructionally in [her] life”, however, she realized how parallel this style of choreography is to her teaching job. “Building choreography and building technical dancers is like building a wall” with all its layers. It is all a metaphor. Through this process Anabella discovered she is a very technical choreographer. She worked with every angle of this piece and would improvise different feelings and emotions for hours with Lauren, and only a minute of this work would make it to the final product. Movement is the center of this piece. When all the layers come together and everything is changing around Lauren while she’s dancing, the movement stays intact.
During their many months at Duo Multicultural Arts Center (DMAC), Lauren and Anabella had been experimenting with paper and masks but it simply wasn’t working. Once Daniel Pettrow, the director, stepped in, he had Lauren kick and rip and tear the papers to shreds to the music, and Anabella found her inspiration. She broke into tears as Daniel was able to put into movement, what she wasn’t brave enough to feel herself. Anabella is never one to get angry, so this raw emotion was quite new to her, but helped her to shape her entire piece. The next day after one hour of work she was able to set the entire piece with Lauren. Those four minutes with Daniel’s guidance sparked something in her that was exactly what she needed.
This piece is not about imitation or how Ms. Lenzu felt when she lost her father, though she can remember his movements quite clearly. This is a piece filled with personal secrets, feelings and movements that can be understood universally.
Make sure you come see In Pursuit of Happiness Friday October 23-Sunday October 25 (8pm shows) at the Alchemical Theater in NYC.
Limited seating! You can purchase your tickets online. https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784
Choreography: Anabella Lenzu
Direction: Daniel Pettrow
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer & Anabella Lenzu
Music Landscape: Todd Carroll