First and foremost, I would like to
thank you for supporting Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama. It is because of you that we are able to continue to create and perform each year.
I am so happy to share this news with you!

*Monday, March 12th at 8pm: as part of Movement Research at the Judson Church (55 Washington Square S, New York, NY 10012). FREE Admission.

*Sunday, March 25th at 7pm: 15 min Work- in-progress as part of the WAXwork’s Series at Triskelion Arts (106 Calyer St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn). Tickets $12. Purchase your tickets online.

*Saturday, April 28th at 6pm: A preview/work-in-progress of  “No More Beautiful Dances” will be performed at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island. Dance Studio: G201 (with a 5PM reception preceding the performance).Tickets $10.Purchase your tickets online. This performance is presented by Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden and PASS: Performing Arts Salon Saturdays.

“No more beautiful dances” wrestles with the ideas of exploration, introspection and reframing a woman after becoming a mother, and being an inmigrant. Lenzu’s dance theater piece uses spoken word and video projections to tell a personal vision of femininity, and what it means to be a woman today.
Choreographer and Dancer: Anabella Lenzu
Video Projection Design: Todd Carroll
Direction: Daniel Pettrow
Costumes: Jennifer Johanos
AL/DD Part-time Intern Position available for: Development and Marketing 

AL/DD offers stimulating internship opportunities for someone seeking experience in arts administration, development and marketing. The intern will gain experience in operations, marketing, and public relations, archiving and production within a small yet very active professional dance company. The intern will directly assist Anabella Lenzu, Artistic Director, with producing events, marketing campaigns, grant research, database management and other pertinent work. Applicants should be available to commit for a minimum of 3 months, hours negotiable (8 hours /week preferred).
Internships can range from 3-12 month commitments, initially unpaid, with the opportunity to grow into a paid position.

Internship positions are available in Development and Marketing 

1. Qualifications:
The Administration applicant must have excellent oral and written communications skills, be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and able to manage multiple tasks and deadlines.

The candidates for the internship position must work well independently, with exceptional attention to detail, outstanding communications and organizational skills, and a passion for the arts.

2. Compensation:
This is an unpaid internship. AL/DD will provide a diligent and reliable intern with excellent recommendation letters and free performance tickets and the opportunity to attend Anabella Lenzu’s classes (for those with a dance background). This is a great opportunity to gain real life experience working closely with a small professional Arts Organization.

To be considered for the position, please write a cover letter 
(no longer than 1 page) explaining: 
a) Why you wish to intern at AL/DD
b) Your qualifications and interests
c) Your goals and expectations for the internship and dates and days of the week you are available

Applications due: February 10, 2018. 

For more Info:




Dear Dancers & Friends,
Happy, Healthy and Creative 2018!
I am so happy to announce NEW CLASSES in NYC for this year!
A big hug, Anabella

at Peridance Center (126 East 13th Street, between 3rd and 4th Ave, New York)
* TUESDAYS: 7:30- 9pm 
* WEDNESDAYS: 10am- 11:30am
* FRIDAYS: 10am- 11:30am
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Find your inner-strength; develop & improve alignment and technique; explore and learn how to efficiently use your body and your energy in a healthy way as instruments of your expression. Through this class, you can increase flexibility and strength, overcome physical difficulties and incorrect posture, and acquire physical awareness to help prevent injuries. Open to all levels of experience.
WHY STUDY BARRE A TERRE? To know more read Anabella’s Article

Immense Gratitude


Dear Friends,

My work reflects my experience as a Latina/European artist living in New York & comes from a deep examination of my motivations as a woman, mother, & immigrant. 
I am writing to extend my immense gratitude for your support of Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama over these last 11 years! 

2017 was an AMAZING artistic year full of performances & classes.
2018 can be just as great only with your continued patronage!

So far, your assistance has helped me create outstanding performances & high caliber educational programs! So, I turn to you, my invaluable friends & supporters, to help bring dreams to fruition. 

Here is a deeper look at what happened in 2017:

As a Choreographer/Dancer, I…

*    presented seven work-in-progress & informal showings of “No more beautiful dances” at Gibney Dance Center, Marie-Christine Giordano Salon Series in Brooklyn, Jennifer Muller/The Works Studio, at Open Performance/Movement Research at Eden’s Expressway, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ InHalePerformance Series in Philadelphia, IDACO Festival at Baruch Performing Arts Center, & during the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Green Space Blooms Festival in LIC.

*    re-staged & performed along with Lauren Ohmer, “In Pursuit of Happiness” presented by Goddard Riverside Community Arts at Bernie Wohl Hall in Manhattan.
*    created temporary public art performance installations in downtown Chambersburg, PA, as part of my MFA in Choreography at Wilson College.
*    was guest choreographer for the Mata Hari Opera Production (World Premiere) at HERE Arts Center, NYC as part of Prototype Festival. CLICK HERE to read the AMAZING REVIEWS.


As a Teacher, I…

*    acted as a guest teacher at Gallatin (NYU) & Long Island High School for the Arts/ Nassau BOCES teaching both technique & DanceDrama repertory.

*    taught three DanceDrama Labs Workshop Series: Choreography and Improvisation & Methodology of Teaching Dance (How to teach Dance) at Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn.
*    guest taught two workshops Drawing the Dance at The Art Students League of New York and at SVA MFA in Fine Arts.
*    taught Dance Anatomy, Dance History, & Barre a Terre for Peridance‘s two year Certificate Program.

As a Writer, I…

*    wrote articles & reviews for Attitude: The Dancers Magazine & for my blog: I interviewed Dominique Mercy, rehearsal director of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, Article/ Interview to Gus Solomon, Article/ Interview to Rajika Puri.

*    re-wrote my Artist Statement

As a Panelist/Speaker, I…

*    was part of a Selection Panel for Emerging Choreographer Series at LaGuardia Performing Art Center (NY) & Board Member of IDACO 2017 (Italian Dance Connections Festival)

*    was a Panelist for Dance is Resistance: Migration/A Movement as part of the American AF Festival, at New Ohio Theatre, NYC
Here are some articles that have been written about my work in 2017:

*    (USA) Danza hoy En Español: “Mi vida es la danza” an interview about my 10 year anniversary as a director of ALDD.

*    (Argentina) Balletin Dance: A great interview about the 10th Anniversary of the foundation of my dance company in NYC.

Global Tarantella, Reinventing Southern Italian Folk Music and Dances by Nadia Inserra: I had the honor of being interviewed for the book regarding my experience working  & researching in Italy from 2002 to 2005.

As an independent choreographer with a dynamic company, it is a challenging & expensive venture to create work & perform in NYC, & even more difficult to do so abroad with travel expenses. In order to pursue a high quality experience for artists & audience alike, we have set a modest fundraising goal of $15,000.

We invite you to participate in this goal & to share in the satisfaction of realizing a significant & meaningful process of exploration & discovery.
Your tax deductible**contributions will help cover the cost of artist & collaborator fees, rehearsals space, costumes, videos, marketing & publicity. If your company has a Matching Gift program, your donation can go twice as far!

Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama is made possible ONLY with your help!

Sincerely yours,  Anabella Lenzu

Without your support: artists, family, friends, audience… we would not exist. 


Donate Online 

 or  Please make checks payable to The Field. In the Memo line, write Anabella Lenzu. Please mail all checks to Anabella Lenzu /DanceDrama, 233 Devoe St, 1B, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Donations are tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor, The Field, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. ** If you are unable to contribute financially, we also appreciate donated goods, services and volunteers. All donors are acknowledged on our website and in our newsletters.

  • As a writer, sharing my point of view of life with others is my duty and my pleasure.
  • As an educator, my perennial goal is to generate appreciation for and understanding of the arts and of artists.
  • As a choreographer, I investigate the interior logic of performance and the role of a dancer in our culture today, redefining the parameters of dance and theater.

My work reflects my experience as a Latina/European artist living in New York and comes from a deep examination of my motivations as a woman, mother, and immigrant.

My aim is to integrate mind + body + spirit. That’s why I write, choreograph & teach.  

Anabella Lenzu

In May 2017,  I had the pleasure to interview Rajika Puri in Manhattan, after the show Celebrating INDIAN DANCE in AMERICA produced by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham’s FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH and curated by Rajika at 14th Street Y, on April 29th.

=Tapasya: Ascetic Power and Tales of the Ganges (2009, Joyce SoHo) – Story of ‘Amrita’ told by Rajika as ‘1000 yr old Ravana’ (antagonist of Ramayana)

Anabella Lenzu: So I want to know the different aspects of you, because you’re doing so much for the dance community. I feel it’s not just about Indian dance that you’re working on in New York, but you try to embrace and connect to other works in the community. Who is Rajika?

Rajika Puri: I think I’ll start with my mother, with whom I had a fractured relationship with, she was very fierce. At the age of two and a half she saw me move and she knew I wanted to dance. She had wanted to dance but came from a time when she couldn’t. The opportunity didn’t arise, she fell in love with my father, and the war broke out. By then she was twenty. So she put me into school, just to play, at five. Then at eight she put me into class when she felt I was grown up. Then she had to leave to go to England, because my father was on the front. We would be dumped in very small places and my mother felt she needed to get a career. So she went to London to study furniture design at the London school of arts and crafts. She was already twenty five, hanging out with people who were eighteen, so she didn’t want people to know about me, at the same time she would take me with her. She found out that you could go and stand in line at six o’clock and buy tickets at Covent Garden. And by the time I was eleven, I would go and stand in line when I didn’t have school and I remember with the eyes of an eleven year old, as the show starts I see Alicia Markova, all of these amazing dancers. My mother was not sitting in the seat next to me and I almost couldn’t enjoy it until I saw her sitting on the steps near the door. That is how I fell in love with ballet. And saw Fontaine a long time ago in Swan Lake. I saw her as Giselle and it was a beautiful seat because I remember I was there with my grandmother. And this little girl comes out to play with the nurse and I burst into tears! Nobody else could dance like that, she looked so young. I grew up with a love of the arts. She took me to my first ballet when I was five in the Royal Opera House. Across the aisle was Lena Horn and apparently my mother noticed her looking at me and not at the stage. And at intermission she said ‘give her to me, I’ll take her to America, and make her a star.’ My mother said ‘thank you very much, ‘she’s my daughter, she’s not going anywhere. But thank you so much, and you are?’ And she said ‘I’m Lena Horn’. So I really got my love of the arts from my mom. And then she also said to me ‘You talk a lot, and you try to be as smart about politics like your brilliant husband. Why don’t you study something? And that’s when I got my masters in anthropology. Having danced all around the world, but then and I was lucky -I fell into social anthropology, because actually as someone of so many cultures, I spoke French at the age of 5, I spoke Arabic, and it was that multiculturalism, my mother spoke Swahili, my father spoke Hindi, Bengali, and English. So I think as Indians we are multicultural. But very often Indians only have access to Indian things, they stick to their ghettos even when they go abroad. So in 1986, I had been dancing all over the world.

AL: How did you end up in South America?

RP: My brother in law was the ambassador there. But in Mexico I had been learning a bit of Spanish and decided I wasn’t going to sit home, and I ended up actually doing lectures and came on television and I wanted to dance in the museum of Anthropologie and they said ‘no you can’t, you’re a foreign culture, you have to do it in La Musea de las Culturas’. So I said okay, I was 24, I went to the museum, and I said ‘oh this is too small a stage’ they said, if you do a demonstration here, we will set up a way for you to do something in the Anthropology Museum. So I did one, and the Indian ambassador was so thrilled! He said ‘you speak Spanish!’ and of course I had someone helping me, but when you’re wearing Indian dance costume, they do not expect your Spanish to be perfect. Within a week of being there, I went on the tonight show. I thought I was there to dance, and he sat me down to interview me. He started asking me about nationalization of women and I saw it on television that evening and I thought this is it! I became a sort of ambassador of culture!

Horses Mouth Bala slide + Rajika invocation by Adam Macks (Light Designer) copy
From the Horse’s Mouth celebrating Indian Dance in America (2017) – Rajika invocation to Balasaraswati

AL: What is dance for you?

RP: For me dance is theater, which is how I got into theater with Julie Taymor, because Indian dance is an expression of your inner most being. Actually, it’s only recently that I realized I want to take the words out of the work I do because I think when you can speak with your heart through your body as I watched the people in the Horse’s Mouth, the ones who moved me most, were telling me something beyond the words. Those who moved me the least were the ones telling me how great they are, and I couldn’t even listen to them, because who their body was, was not someone I was very interested in. But it’s the ones who just came quietly and presented their being and their love of what they were doing, and the deep need for you to see how beautiful the work was, you have to have that. We’ve been taught to smile and say ‘aren’t I great’ but what are you actually saying?

AL: But I feel what you do to combine and tell stories is so amazing. I remember when you were part of the panel of dance critic association and you were talking about the relationship between words and movement and I was fascinated. I feel what you do is so powerful.

RP: So when I did theater work, I went hoping to be choreographer and ended up as the main character, wearing a 3 piece suit with long hair, speaking in the person of Thomas Mann, and the music was written by Elliot Goldenthall who was Julies partner, and they both encouraged me to use my voice. I said no, I’m magic when I don’t speak, and in that experience I discovered the magic of when I do speak and use my voice. I was the voice of many of Julie’s puppets. So then I became Kali, and I sing as Kali.

AL: Are you trained? I didn’t know that!

RP: I trained as a kid, in England. So Mommy sent me to ballet class but I didn’t have the feet, and then I took piano and the teacher of the ballet class had a best friend named Madame, and she was so taken by me a little dark skinned girl with big white eyes, that she said ‘oh I will give you lessons for free’. So I took lessons every Saturday. And I sang in the messiah youth chorus at the age of 10. So I have the musical training, I can read music.

Horse's_Mouth_Rajika_leads_final_all_dancers'_file_ P1020949_Adam  Macks P1020949Finale Raj, Anita, Jin, Aishwarya, Sruthi Kuldeep, Shobana  Ram copy.jpg
From the Horse’s Mouth celebrating Indian Dance in America (2017)- The final parade.

AL: Tell me more about Rajika as a choreographer

RP: Well I never said I was a choreographer because I’m not an artist.

AL: You’re not an artist?

RP: Well I didn’t think so, but I guess now I am. I didn’t think I had the creativity. When I just decided, wouldn’t it be fun to do a work without the dancers. I started doing collaborations, and working in post-modern.

AL: But how do you use traditions? Can you talk about this a little bit more?

RP: You know its structure and form. I am a structuralist. That’s what I learned when I studied with Dred Williams, she was absolutely brilliant. I was her first student, and some of the people did not like me because she favored me. I was young and exuberant, fortunately one person who was there is still a friend. She was telling me when she saw my first work, she said ‘this is Rajikas thesis and its true in a way because I took the structure and the idea of postmodern, what you do with multiple bodies, and answered those questions.

AL: How did you feel about the reception of your work?

RP: When I did it, it’s funny I think the ideas are embedded, so when I did the first piece, I did it at some festival. So I remember one or two of the older dancers, they were big divas in India and they said ‘eh it’s okay’ because what I was doing, the principle of it, frankly is embedded, nothing new. I just made it happen because I know what postmodern is, and I knew new music. Not that much, but we go to a lot of new music and new opera. I can really hear Phillip Glass, I hear the amazing things he’s doing. And I tell you, that autobiography of his, I had all this work to do, and I wanted to read the whole thing at once, but I didn’t I read 30 pages at a time. He’s a Buddhist, and everything he wrote was about something else. He took you through his life. I want to write a biography like that, that talks about this, gives you an idea what it was like to be in London at the time as an Indian, as a ballerina. Not about me, but gives you a sense of the social and artistic background. He’s out of his mind of course, but I think I would love to recapture that and re-learn who was there at the time. To me I think that is the story that is interesting, I am just the thread. I can now hear Phillip.

Eleni of Spartaa retelling of the life of ‘Helen of Troy’ in 7 acts (2013, Epic Women Festival during Chennai season) accompanied by master-percussionist Suchet Malhotra, then performed in India and Malaysia on tour and at University of North Texas.
Rajika as Eleni.

AL: Who is Rajika as a curator? What are you looking for? How do you feel? For me, it was an amazing evening. What is your role and responsibility?

RP: As my creation, I have to say I call it conversations with Shiva. She came to me and said, what is your idea? I’ll help with the music but I have to know what it’s about. And I said I don’t know. I realized I’m channeling. I never thought I’d say that. I want to talk about irascible men. All my stories are about these men, and it is about the heat they didn’t know they had. So as a curator that came to me. I learned the word curator from Anita. She is much younger than I am but she is an older sister to me when it comes to learning. I watched how she curated the festival that later became the festival that brought new works, and innovative works. She talked about curation, and I had never heard about that so I was intrigued. She said, people have to learn. That’s the eye she has. Then in 2008, I was asked to help curate the dance festival. They brought on board this young woman. She walks in and I realize this young woman who is about 30 years younger than I, taught me how to curate. And I had to admit I said a lot of loud mouth things about her, but at least I had the guts to say ‘oops!’ I helped her with the bios, looking at the work, and now actually I have become a master curator.

AL: This is also something new for the Horse’s Mouth -the first evening with Indian dance. They didn’t do ethnic dance before.

RP: Well they’ve done tap dancing before. And then they’ve done Ted Shawn, and then they did specific people. But you know I’ve been in 10 Horses’ Mouths. I can even say I danced Jacobs Pillow because last minute someone called out and they needed me. I had tickets to Lincoln center and I said to my husband I do want to go to the opera but this is amazing. Hopped on an overnight bus, grabbed my Sari, and was magically in the mecca. New York is the mecca in one sense, but Jacobs Pillow is a wonderland for dance. So when they asked me to curate this, I knew, and then they said you must open the show. They knew I was a dance story teller and I should do a story. And I thought, I am strong and everything, but I’m nothing. The person I would like to have on that stage is Balasaraswati. She came here in 1962, comes from a temple family. They are musicians and dancers. They were dedicated to the biggest temple of Shiva. She is a beacon, she brings that knowledge of depth, of being in the space, knowing your music, knowing your lyrics, and improvising everything, including rhythm on stage -I’ve seen her do it, in 1965 at the 92nd street Y. She gave her brother a look and then she started. Her feet were like lightning. And then she did her song, and the mic came down in the middle of the stage. Now that her mother had died, she was the only one to sing. That is a quintessential dancer. And she left her legacy here, her daughter married one of her brother’s best students, Doug Knight who wrote the book on her, and they produced a son. So her legacy is in America. So her grandson came to me and said, you do know that on the 13th of May we start the 99th year of Balasaraswati and we’re doing events all over the world. This is what I mean by channeling and listening. Shiva told me. That’s why I was chosen by Tina to do this at this time.

AL: The whole show was so emotional. I brought a friend and she was so emotional.

RP: Tina Kroll and Jamie Cunningham. He’s a director. Tina Croll is the most luminous person I know. They conceived this in 1998. They have brought the community together. This show, what I take away from it is what I saw backstage. These kids were taking photos of each other, looking after each other. Everyone wanted to look after each other. It was all giving, giving, giving.

AL: That’s amazing, and as an audience member, we feel that community.

RP: And we are all solo dancers. We were told not to look downstage, look at each other. Those who did, were the ones who got the most out of it. Only when you’re telling your story do you look at the audience. There’s a sense of a timeline to eternity.

AL: Well that is the power of dance. Especially in the times we live in. Now dance is all about self-indulgence, and we forgot why we started dancing.

RP: Yesterday I went to see the Limon Company at the Joyce and I had done a festival with Louis Solino, and I took class with him in Costa Rica. For a long time I hadn’t seen the Limon company. I loved seeing it because I really understood the groundedness.

AL: Is there anything you’d like to say? Anything you would like to share about Rajika?

RP: I have had a bad shoulder, I discovered is congenital from all the typing and from getting older. I actually have two newsletters to write tonight. I’ve presented with World Music Institute, and also with World Flamenco. I think it’s really the realization that there is no such thing as authentic, things change constantly. So I think it’s about communication. I could have gone into film, a lot of people asked me to. I think I’m a live performer. There is nothing like communicating with a live audience on stage. I watch all those film stars, I’m a member of SAAG. I adore Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep, I envy them in one sense, but they got where they did because they’re stage performers. There is nothing like it.

Rajika_Puri_'Krishna'_in_RADHA_from_Devimalika_by_Richard_Termine copyDeviMalika: A garland of danced and sung stories of the feminine divine in India (2008, Duke on 42nd St, earlier version 2005 Commissioned by the Rubin Museum of Art). Rajika with Eric Fraser and Shane Shanahan as ‘Krishna’ in RADHA

Hola Amigos,
I’m thrilled to invite you to an Informal Studio Showing of my new work “No more beautiful dances” on Saturday, November 18th at 7:30pm at Gibney Dance Center (280 Broadway -Entrance at 53A Chambers Street, 2nd Floor) Studio E, NYC.
Suggested donation: $15
Because there is limited seating, please email me if you want to RSVP to Info@anabellalenzu.com
 A hug,  Anabella
“No more beautiful dances” wrestles with the ideas of exploration, introspection and reframing a woman after becoming a mother, and being an inmigrant. Lenzu’s dance theater piece uses spoken word and video projections to tell a personal vision of femininity, and what it means to be a woman today.”
Choreographer and Dancer: Anabella Lenzu
Video Projections Design: Todd Carroll
Acting and Voice Coach: Daniel Pettrow
Costumes: Jennifer Johanos
** Do you want to know more about the creative process of 
“No more beautiful dances”?
  • As a writer, sharing my point of view of life with others is my duty and my pleasure.
  • As an educator, my perennial goal is to generate appreciation for and understanding of the arts and of artists.
  • As a choreographer, I investigate the interior logic of performance and the role of a dancer in our culture today, redefining the parameters of dance and theater.

My work reflects my experience as a Latina/European artist living in New York and comes from a deep examination of my motivations as a woman, mother, and immigrant.

My aim is to integrate mind + body + spirit. That’s why I write, choreograph & teach.  

Anabella Lenzu

On Saturday, September 16,  I had the honor and pleasure to interview Dominique Mercy in Brooklyn, after the show at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) where the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch presented Café Müller/The Rite of Spring. (SEP 14—SEP 24, 2017)

Dominique is a former member of the Pina Bausch Company (since 1973) and is presently the Rehearsal Director of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch as well as Vice Chairman of The Advisory Board of Pina Bausch Foundation.

He received me and spoke to me with open heart. Throughout our conversation he showed a deep self awareness as well as honest transparency.  After seeing him all my life on stage and in videos, I can say that he is as generous a dancer as he is a person.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 4.03.27 PM

Anabella Lenzu: So I want to ask you about politics.

Dominique Mercy: Ahh that’s a trap! It is a trap!

AL: I know we should not talk about politics and religion, but how can we separate them when we are artists?

DM: I know, I know, it is part of our life, of course.

AL: That’s my question, do you think your career, your work, you as Dominique the person are a political act? Or how do you separate from that idea?

DM: If you relate or translate or describe being in society as a political one, which is probably the fact, conscious or unconscious, then yes. But I have never been some kind of conceptual artist. It is something that never, maybe it’s bad, but never really interested me to be involved in directly  —the political side of thinking in my career. It’s difficult to say why I chose this. I think it’s something which is so deep inside.

Until now, dancing has been a way of living. There were no questions. I did have some doubt on the way, maybe wished to do something else like singing or playing an instrument, but it (dancing) has always been a necessity and I never knew where it came from.

AL: The fact is that we are artists, we rebel. We show another level of consciousness  to the audience –that is what I’m talking about. What do you feel is your responsibility as an artist? Talk about Dominique in the world we are living in now.

DM: Well, we are exposed, and our responsibility is no more or less than what you have as a normal human being in society. Of course we are more exposed. I’ve always been very lazy to ask myself questions. I’ve been following my flows and my instincts because I really had an enormous chance to meet the right people in the right moment. Things have always been very organic for me. Even if I decided to quit or make a choice, I had the possibility to do it. I wasn’t forced to do it. It was just the moment to do it when it happened. So I consider myself very lucky in that way, and maybe that’s why I didn’t have to fight somehow. I had the chance to just concentrate on my work and what was inside me.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 4.05.58 PM

AL: But how do you feel politically? Because as a member of a younger generation, I see different government approaches  —like in this country, we don’t have a minister of culture, never have and never will. How do you feel about getting support from the government? How does it influence your work?

DM: It doesn’t influence me. Of course in Europe, we are very lucky because there is this recognition in most countries of the importance of art for all of us. For the ones who do it and the ones who receive it and share it. I think it is incredible. On the other hand, of course on a different level, if you have to struggle for certain things and really struggle to achieve them, it gives art a tremendous value. In Europe, it’s not like money comes from the sky. There are a lot of young people we call freelance artists that are struggling. It’s not easy. You have to look for money and rent a place, and people aren’t being paid because there isn’t enough money. You know we all went through this somehow, more or less. If I understood your question, in the case of Pina, there is support from the city that hasn’t always been obvious, but has been incredible, even when she passed away. But it never ever influenced any of our work. Pina always did her work with sincerity and honesty. She didn’t try to please or provoke anyone. That’s why I’m always looking to express new things.

AL: Can you talk a little bit about how the idea of dance companies disappearing? Now most choreographers are freelance, or we see pick-up companies. How do you feel about how you became part of this artistic family, part of the magic?

DM: Well, the destiny of a family —you don’t choose it. It goes back to what we were talking about a little bit ago. The incredible luck she had to have this theater invite her to take over this ballet company. She brought people that she knew and had worked with and some other people she had worked with like me. Since the beginning it’s been people coming and going. In reality, we are together not because we want to be together —we are here because of Pina’s work.  It’s by being together and working in the studio, being as open as you can, trying to look into yourself, you get to know each other a little bit better. I think somehow the company is probably much more… let’s say consciously responsible, and together now that Pina passed away. When she was alive she was a magnet. It’s not like all of us like each other, we’re a normal group of people, but she was the one solving problems and disagreements or whatever it was. And suddenly she left us and right away there were less difficulties. Mourning is not an easy thing to do, but I think there was this responsibility we felt for her legacy. We sort of fit all together, as a part of something and don’t want to lose it.


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AL: So we talked about politics, we talked about family, what about religion? Last night I saw Rite of Spring and I see this community, and I was thinking —for you, is dance your religion?

DM: What connects us more is a spirituality. It’s being connected and being aware of something we’re still looking for, and we don’t really know what it is. I think in modern religion, there is something we don’t know. We all still look for it and try to understand.

AL: Did working with Pina give you this sense of spirituality?

DM: I don’t know if it gave me more than what I think I had myself. Well anyway, when you go through a collaboration with someone like Pina, you try to be honest, you go into a lot of introspection.

AL: What have you discovered within yourself while working with Pina?

DM: You know, for me it’s on different levels. I didn’t want to dance because I wanted to use it as a tool or because I discovered something, it’s always been there since I was a baby. So I think without knowing it, there is something spiritual about it. It came from inside. My mother and people around me could sense that and encourage it. And of course after a while you try to understand why. I’m not sure I know why yet. Also working with Pina makes you discover yourself because it’s so much about how she was working with us as individuals. It’s also like trying to understand why I dance, what makes me go in such a specific direction in most of my dancing. It’s something I haven’t really put my finger on yet. It’s strange because I’m aging, I sometimes feel the need to rest a bit. It is a strange spot, I don’t know.


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AL: Let’s talk about the dance audience. How do you feel the work is being received in the different countries?

DM: Well you know if you talk about New York, I think it’s one of the first cities where we really realized we didn’t have only a dance audience. There were actors, artists, I think it was an incredible mixture.

AL: But talking about worldwide…

DM: You cannot deny that there is an audience coming to BAM and coming for Pina. But I don’t know, maybe there is something magic about the audience and the company. When people talk to me in the street, they’re not dancers, and in the last few years I’m more in the audience, people come to talk to me and they’re not dancers, but they love dance. They are people looking for something in their life, it’s more than entertainment. There are so many people who say the company changed their life.

AL: How do you feel audiences in different countries nurture the work? How do the audiences in different countries influence the work?

DM: It’s different in a way. It’s always difficult to say this country or that one. Very often within a season in a city, sometimes you have a different audience every night so it’s difficult. But we were talking last night about a laugh in the audience, it’s always been like this since the beginning. I will never forget this, the very first time we did Café Müller, I was so concerned. We were shocked on stage, Pina didn’t understand either why people in that moment started to laugh. It stopped quite quickly, but they laughed. That’s happened almost everywhere because I think the audience doesn’t know what to do with it, and refuses to relate to what this means. I must say here in United States, this happens much more than anywhere else.

AL:  How do things penetrate the 4th wall on stage? Because at the beginning not everyone liked Pina, how did you take that?

DM: Well let’s be honest, you’re not looking for Boos or people leaving the house. When you believe in what you do, it can make you sad, it can make you angry, it can make you wise, but somewhere there is something that tells you, ‘whatever, I’m on the right path’ and that’s what I meant before. Pina never did anything to provoke or influence, because she had a lot of respect for the audience and was sad when things didn’t work. If we are there, sharing those things with the audience, of course we believe in it and we hope to connect with them in one way or another.

AL: And there was always a respectful dialogue…

DM: Yes. For instance, there is a piece which we did in Paris three or four times. The first time, the reviews and the audience were arguing between who liked it and who hated it. We came back 3 years later, and they all loved it. We went back again, and it was just like the first time, the same misunderstandings, people leaving, people loving it, audience members arguing. It was amazing that the piece still had the power to provoke questions! They don’t just clap, there is something sincere about it, but it was very strange. I think it was in the nineties, we were invited to Madrid for the re-opening of the opera, and we had two different programs there and with our first piece —people loved it, immense success. The next week we went back and did Carnation, it was amazing, people were boo-ing, leaving, clapping, some said that it wasn’t dance, people were screaming. That was amazing.

AL: How do you feel about continuing Pina’s legacy and honoring her work?

DM: Well I think, first of all I’m very happy we are where we are and to realize that the company is still here. I think the work has so many layers because we have this responsibility and I think it’s a deserved one. Pina’s work is so incredible, I think it has to be kept alive for as long as possible. For myself, after Pina passed away, co-directing the company has been a real struggle. Because it was an immense responsibility and on the other side, people need time to mourn. We had Pina as this magnet, sort of in the center of everything. It was a very pyramidal composition of people. And suddenly there were these two men chosen to hold the company. It was very difficult because Pina had the capacity to have this personal relationship with each one of us, and to give confidence in many different fields while pushing you to ask questions. By trying to carry all of this, we’re comforting all those sensitivities. It made things very complicated, to make choices and decisions. But still nevertheless, we were still aware of not damaging the legacy. This is the idea on top of everything else, and I think we are becoming a little bit wiser somehow, and I think there is a very beautiful dynamic within the company to take care of the work.

It’s so strange because of course sometimes just the fact that people know Pina is not here anymore, the artists say “yeah but.” Always “yeah but”. Yeah but, what? Because what we do now, is something that Pina taught us. Of course we don’t have her eyes, we don’t have her tremendous talent and instinct. But I think each one of us is receptive differently. I think she really did prepare for this, she started making revivals very early. She educated us so we could understand why she would suddenly split a role, or fix specific details, because for her it was important. She had been teaching us how to see and react. Of course there might always be something missing, and anyway I think it’s something you can’t change, because until Pina went, everybody more or less had the chance to work with her, see her thinking, struggling, choosing, and now we have about 15 dancers. And of course when you look in from the outside it’s a piece of Pina, but it’s becoming another company. You cannot deny this. It’s part of the process. I think it’s beautiful because it’s not always easy for these young people to compare. But nevertheless I think it’s amazing to realize how this new generation is consumed by the work and that’s fantastic, I think.


To see selections of Dominique Mercy dancing Pina Bausch’s works, click the following links: