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Posts Tagged ‘Anabella Lenzu’

  • 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.

Rajika_as_ELENI_entranced_by_Paris_wSuchet_Malhotra_3387Huneid_crop.jpg
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

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  • 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.

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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.

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 4.06.52 PM

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:

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Article by Julienne Rencher  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

Photos by Todd Carroll

I had the opportunity to discuss with Anabella Lenzu the revolutionary act of self examination, recognition and reframing yourself as a woman, dancer, and artist with her one woman show no more beautiful dances

J.R: How is “No more beautiful dances” different than your previous body of work?

A.L: This show is, I feel, completely different thematically from the past 11 years. I have been exploring choreography as a political act. Some shows were very political and talked about the society and the individual, some work was more about ritual and exploring the connection between performance and a ritual.

I feel that since my dad passed away in 2014, I have changed, partly because I did a show about him. I feel like life in New York City forced me to look internally to see what happened. This new show is like taking my vital signs to see where I am or who I am. I am not looking at themes outside of myself. It’s not about the socio-political, its not about ritual, its not about anthropological research, it’s about myself.

Also, I have arrived at a moment where I am 41 years old, I have two kids, my body has experienced a lot of changes psychologically, emotionally, and the show is about recognition, reframing myself one more time.

J.R: This a heavily political time in the United States, are you glad you are departing from politically themed work at this time.

A.L: As an artist, I consider myself as a worker in service of art and I feel that it’s an individual’s power and self knowledge that starts everything. You cannot take political action or be part of any community and be the change if you are not doing it yourself.

Over the years, I have found out things about myself in terms of how and to whom I give: as a mom I give to my kids, I give to my students, I give to my company members. Now I am looking inside myself something I have not done for a long time.

I feel that this show is a testimony of all these changes, all these experiences as a specific woman in the performing arts. Especially fighting with the idea of what a dancer needs to look like, because I am a trained ballerina. So just to examine your boobs and your belly… my body is a testimony to all these changes and to my whole life. It’s like when you see your wrinkles, it shows that time has passed and experiences passed.

I am interested in two things; the body as a container and the body as a tool.

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J.R: How did you use technology to more deeply explore themes of individuality and self recognition?

A.L: I use two cameras live, two projectors and two laptops. One camera is above and one below.

For me technology is like a magnifying glass, and I decided that I want the magnifying glass from above, and from underneath.

Because I feel that cameras are a portal to another dimension. The camera captures other dimensions that you can’t see in live performance. Even the eye cannot capture live so many details I really want to do this close up and this far away to show a different angle.

Basically I am choreographing a trio between the live performer that is myself and the two other images that you see from above and below. The technology is a way to frame myself. The camera shows another intention, another point of view in how it captures life and movement. I can offer the audience 3 different readings of myself.

You as the audience decide what point of view you want to see and when.

J.R: So you take the audience with you on this journey of self-examination. Were you ever afraid of exposing yourself so revealingly?

A.L: When dealing with your self, sometimes you don’t want to see yourself and sometimes I’m tired of taking photos of myself but I keep going because I think there is something else beneath the surface – who I am, who I really am. As performers we have so many masks, so I try to peel them off and find the other Anabellas. It’s an examination of self recognition and all the goals we have in our head. It’s fun for me!

About twice a week I take photos of myself as a way to see where I am, who I am, what’s is going on with myself, what interests me to talk about.

The things that you want to hide when you dance – that’s what I am going to show!

So Art is a rebellion. Art is about authenticity and identity.

J.R: How did you discover the movement for “No more beautiful dances”?

A.L: Movement as a symbol, as a metaphor to another state of transformation -that’s what I feel. There are different motivations of the things that I do, but through improvisation I can find the perfect gesture to convey these ideas using metaphor.

J.R: Describe the role of your dancers Dina Denis, Salvatore Cataldo and Ambra Togliatti in shaping the material?

A.L: Here is my creative process: I go to the studio, I improvise by myself 6 to 8 hours, I look at the videos, I take notes on the movement material that I consider interesting. I call the dancers, I organize the material on their bodies because I need to be able to get distance to work on my craft -meaning space, time, energy, all the articulations. I organize the design. After that, I re-learn the choreography myself and I do it. And then dancers are on the outside. It’s as if I am an architect creating a house. The dancers come live inside the house, and I also then later move inside the house. We talk about the experience of living in this structure and I change the piece accordingly.

The dialogue I have with them is fascinating, dancer-to-dancer. I make certain choreographic choices to suit what I would want for a man or a woman. It starts out specific, but I arrive at a universal message.

J.R: What is the universal message?

A.L: For me it’s about embracing who I am. That’s the whole thing. Embrace who you are in the moment you are in.

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Anabella will present excerpts of “No more beautiful dances” during The Fall 2018 at:

* SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14th, 2017 at 7pm as part of HATCH Series at Jennifer Muller/The Works Studio (131 West 24th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10011) Admission: $20/ Students $15. To purchase tickets CLICK HERE

* FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27th at 7:30pm as part of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ InHalePerformance Series in Philadelphia (CHI Movement Arts Center, 1316 S 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147). Tickets $10

* SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18th from 7:30-8:45pm at Gibney Dance Center (280 Broadway, 2nd floor, NYC) Studio E. Suggested contribution $15. Limited Seating. RSVP Required: info@AnabellaLenzu.com

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19th at 3pm at MARIE-CHRISTINE GIORDANO Salon Series (220 25th St #202, Brooklyn, NY 11232) Admission: $15

“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 dancetheater 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

Acting and Voice Coach: Daniel Pettrow

Costumes: Jennifer Johanos

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SAVE THE DATE: FRIDAY, June 2nd, 2017 at 7:30pm
at IDACO FESTIVAL in NYC.

I will show a 15 minute excerpt of a new choreographic study entitled “No more beautiful dances”.

Come and see the beginning of what will be a larger solo show I’m working on as part of my MFA thesis.
“No more beautiful dances” wrestles with the ideas of exploration, introspection and reframing a woman after becoming a mother, and being an inmigrant. 
Through real and fantastic characters, Lenzu’s dance theater piece uses spoken word, music landscapes and photo projections to tell a personal vision of femininity, and 
what it means to be a woman today.
Choreographer and Dancer: Anabella Lenzu
Video Projector Design: Todd Carroll
Costumes: Jennifer Johanos.
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Hi Friends and Supporters,
Thanks for celebrating this 10th Anniversary year of Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama and for being by my side!
Humble, Happy and over the moon to receive these amazing reviews of my work/performance last week at the Argentinean Consulate in NYC. Enjoy them!
1) Attitude: The Dancers’ Magazine . Article by Madeleine L. Dale
“Anabella Lenzu presented excerpts from her work of the ten years of her New York-based company, there was a love-fest among critics. We couldn’t help ourselves. We burst with the joy of having seen and experienced stirring, intelligent artistry. “
“..Her choreography’s dynamism is fueled by a revolving door of intensity, self-awareness, melodrama, and/or ritual. This holds true whether the movement is more theatric-based, modern, folk-inspired, or a fusion of many forms.”
“Lenzu has been described as an “Argentine firecracker” which nicely sums up her large, passionate nature as well as her intense commitment to the creative process. She has developed a beautifully integrated approach to dance and theater which will continue to serve her and her fine company going forward.”
SAVE THE DATE: 
Sunday, Nov 13 from 3-5pm, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Come and support us!
Stepping Out,  Photographic Exhibition by Todd Carroll.
A new collection of photographs made while wandering about, seeking out quiet, when light trickles down, over and around leaves and trees, restlessly looking for still images.
During the opening there will be photographs for sale to benefit AnabellaLenzu/DanceDrama
FREE. Limited Admission.
RSVP required: info@anabellaLenzu.com

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ALDD 10th Anniversary Timeline

10 Years, 300 Performances, 12 Choreographic works in 80 Venues.

Inline image 22016 DanceDrama 10th anniversary! Argentinean tour presenting Unveiling Motion and Emotion and premiering In Pursuit of Happiness with Lauren Ohmer in Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca. Hosted the 3rd Annual DanceDrama Laboratory Workshop Series; Re-staging the full-length show Pachamama: Mother World; artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC); Anabella guest judges for xyz nyc at The Tank; book presentation at Figment Festival.

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2015: Premiered In Pursuit of Happiness, performed by Lauren Ohmer and Anabella Lenzu, directed by Daniel Pettrow and music design by Todd Carroll; residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC); Unveiling Motion and Emotion was awarded Honorable Mention Best Art Book/ Spanish or Bilingual from the International Latino Book Awards in San Francisco from the American Library Association Conference; book readings at Bernie Wohl Center and Cornelia Street Caffe;International Artist Seminar at Peridance in NYC; Unveiling Motion and Emotion sold 90+ copies, Anabella was a faculty member at Wagner College and Peridance Center and taught 350+ classes. AL/DD hosted the 2nd Year of DanceDrama Lab Workshop Series.
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2014: Re-staged the full-length show The Grass is Always Greener; Residency at the Cave. Four book presentations at Casita Maria, City Reliquary Museum, Nuyorican Poet Cafe and Bronx Museum. 5th Annual AL/DD Summer Intensive Workshop; 1st DanceDrama Laboratory Workshop Series, a year long Dance Theater Laboratory: focusing in Technique & Repertory, Choreography/Composition and Methodology of Teaching Dance. 20th Anniversary of L’ATELIER Centro Creativo de Danza (dance school Anabella founded in 1994 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina); Fellowship at The Cave

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2013: premiered Pachamama: Mother World as an artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC) and Envoy Enterprises: first collaboration with Jennifer Johanos as costume designer and Todd Carroll as a music landscape designer. Anabella published her first book Unveiling Motion and Emotion and offered 8 book presentations in Universities, Museums, Bookstores …even in the Argentinean Consulate; Photographic exhibition Unveiling Motion and Emotion by Todd Carroll at DNA (Dance New Amsterdam);Unveiling Motion and Emotion for sale on Amazon! 20 Shows in 15 Venues; 200 Books sold, Interviews in TV and magazines, including NBC, Telemundo, Dance Information, Dance Magazine among others; Active member of The Dance Critics Association; 4th Annual AL/DD Summer Intensive for the study of technique and repertory.
My daughter Fiamma Lenzu-Carroll was born!
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2012: premiered Sangre and Arena with dancers Lauren Ohmer and Julia Lindpaintner, artist in residency at DUO Multicultural Art Center (DMAC) second collaboration with composer Geoff Gersh & second collaboration with Daniel Pettrow; Participating in The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP); 3rd Annual AL/DD Summer Intensive at Peridance Center.
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2011: Re-staging of The Grass is always Greener… at Baryshnikov Arts Center in celebration of the 5th Anniversary of ALDD. Anabella celebrates 20 years of teaching dance! 2nd AnabellaLenzu/DanceDrama Summer Intensive Workshop at Peridance;  Choreographed for a work for the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, one of the largest industrial disasters in the history of New York City; 5th Annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival; Anabella creates a YouTube channel with excerpts and examples of dance from pre-history to contemporary dance.
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2010: premiered, The Grass is Always Greener… and first collaboration with actor and director Daniel Pettrow; Anabella’s Blog opens; 1st AnabellaLenzu/DanceDramaSummer Intensive Workshop at CRS Education/Outreach: Extensive teaching workshops in New York, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina: building from my relationships with schools, festivals, and communities. Participated in Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conferences. Organized and produced 4th Annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival.
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2009: Premiere of The Corral at Merce Cunningham Studios; 3rd Annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: conceived as a bridge between the historic Italian community in Williamsburg and the more recent community
of artists who are living and/or working in the neighborhood. We present traditional and Italian-inspired work by contemporary performers and scholars.
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2008: Artist in residency at Dance New Group. Premiere of The Garden: first collaboration with composer Geoff Gersh & second collaboration with photographer Todd Carroll; Brooklyn Arts Council Grants to produce 2nd annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival; first annual Embrace Argentina, an intensive Tango travel experience to Argentina for students and professional dancers; Became an official member of the International Dance Council (CID) through Unesco: Selected as a finalist in the New York Urban Artist Initiative; 25 performances, in 8 venues.
My son Lucio Lenzu-Carroll was born!
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2007: Artist in residency at Chashama; NYC premiere of Ilusiones de Percantas ( Women’s Dreams); Independent Community Foundation produces inaugural “Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival” ; Guest choreographer for Anna Sokolow DanceTheater Company and New Dance Group Company. Produced three “Prelude to Dance” showcases presenting the work of more than 10 emerging choreographers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 50 performances in NY, VA, NC & GA!
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2006: Inception of the company, artist in residence at DNA (Dance New Amsterdam).  First evening-length work: Amen; First collaboration with photographer Todd Carroll. Produced three “Prelude to Dance” showcases presenting the work of more than 10 emerging choreographers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 25 performances in 10 venues.

To all the supporters, family and friends for supporting us economically and emotionally. You make this company possible.

Thanks for trusting and for being my partner! Anabella

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

What better an opportunity than the 10th Anniversary celebration to reiterate my eternal thanks to the people that make my dream of having a dance company in New York possible?

Ten years mark an intense period of my life (from my 30s to my 40s). I moved to New York 11 years ago, became a mom, a professor in different universities and fulfilled my dream of creating a dance company in the United States (the first one was in Argentina: L’Atelier Ballet Contemporaneo (1994-2000) the second one in Italy from (2002-2005) and now Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama, starting in 2006.

 How it all started: 

  • When I moved back to NY in 2005, my base was Peridance Center, directed by Igal Perry (where I was student in 1999-2001) and The Field, an amazing organization that supports artists.
  • Igal Perry opened doors for me and gave me the opportunity to start teaching dance in NY.
  • The Field (through an internship) prepared me to create ALDD, giving my the foundation to understand how a private/non profit dance company functions in NY. In exchange of my intern work, I (and my husband Todd) took  ALL the workshops they offered in Grant Writing, Development, Marketing, Pitching, etc. Under the wing of Tanya Calamoneri, Pele Bauch and James Scruggs. I met Steve Gross, the founder of The Field, in 1999, when I did not even speak English and I participated in his Field Work session at least 10 times. I learned how to give honest and precise feedback to my peers (in English). Eternal thanks to Steve for creating The Field!
  •  I also worked as a stage manager for The Jodi Kaplan Dance Agency during APAP in 2006.

In these 10 years, 40 dancers passed through AL/DD! Thanks for your inspiration, commitment, hard work, dedication, criticism and encouragement:  Mayu Inomata,  Leslie Berman, Emily Quant, Yukiko Sassa, Lauren Ohmer, Julia Lindpaintner, Katie Clancy, Kelley Natella, Debra Zalkind, Val Loukiano, Emily Vescht, Liz Gorgas, Dawn Quigley, Brianna Fails, Raleigh Veach, Cori Marquis, Oshi Wanigasekera, Trina Maninno, Ana Wu, Macy Sullivan, Or Reitman, Paulina Espinosa, Anthony Rosado, Carmen Caceres, Elizabeth Weinstein, Marielis Garcia, Alice Pucheu, Graham Cole, Sydney Ruf Wang, Emily Jeffries, Carolina Rivera Moreno, Mary-Elizabeth Fenn, Hope Parker, Dina Denis, Cesar Brodermann, Erik Zarcone, Justin Coates, Ritzuko Sato, Samuel Humphreys and Guest Dancer: Mariko Endo. Your presence allowed to materialize my dance, making my ideas become real. Thanks for allowing me to experiment and play in my craft of making dances.

I am humbled and honored to have collaborated with: 

  • Todd Carroll who has been with me since the inception of AL/DD. As executive director, photographer, writer, sound designer, graphic designer, advisor an lover!  Your honest and sincere feedback is my daily bread. Your support is my foundation.
  • Daniel Pettrow, our theater guru! I started collaborating with him in 2010, for the desire to train myself and my dance in theater and voice. He began by coaching us at first, and has even directed my last show In Pursuit of Happiness, in 2015. Your sensibility, humor and imagery nurtures my creative work.
  • Geoff Gersh, for composing the music fro The Garden (2008), and Sangre y Arena (2012). Thanks for deepening our emotional environmental atmospheres.
  • Jennifer Johanos, for creating costumes and masks for Pachamama: Mother  World (2013) and advising us always. Thanks for being in almost all our shows!!!! Thanks to DJ too (her husband).
  • Lauren Ohmer: my choreographic assistant, my right hand, who has been dancing for DanceDrama for nine years. So many adventures, so many rehearsals, and shows and explorations. Many tears and a lot of laughter too. Complicated emotions and hard moments. Respect and friendship. Professionalism and nurturing love. Eternal thanks for believing in my vision and for making it real.  Thanks for your creativity and openness.

In 2007, I started an internship program for AL/DD to assist with administrative work, development and promotion. Since then, we trained and guided more than 30 interns: Sarah Isaacman,  Patrick Heffernan, Julia Lindpaintner, Brittany Taylor, Brittany Wilson, Melissa Moore, Shreenath Muthyala, Roberto Ventura, Misaki Kawachi, Courtney Kenyon, Sarah Rose, Caitlin Thurgood, Angela Schopke, Lisa Colpa, Jo Leung, Donna Wilson Marizcal, Yoo Yey, Stephanie Frasca, Grace Rezendes, Emily Hedvall, Daniella Garofalo, Olga Dobrowolska, Sandy Shelton, Dawn Paap, Andrea Šamonilova, Veronica Hackethal, Emily Thornton and Tina Wang.  I’m happy and proud to have become the adoptive mother, sister, auntie, friend to all these young and talented artists and administrators. My home/office was their home, we shared many meals, coffees and yummy sweets, between office work. They saw me in my duties as a mom in between writing a grant proposal, cooking, changing diapers and doing home work with my kids. Without inhibitions, I exposed myself as a working mom/artist. Many of these interns have their own companies now, or work as an artist or administrator for major companies. Many discovered that dance was not for them, many learn to love dance, many are still coming to my kids’ birthday parties! All of them have my love and sincere thanks for helping me to make the company move!

 

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To my Guardian Angels:

  • Michelangelo Alasa, who, since 2012, opened his doors to us repeatedly for creative and magical Artist in Residencies, Works in Progress and performances in DMAC (Duo Multicultural Art Center). And of course for co-producing Sangre y Arena.
  • To Gisela for your wise eye and kind words! For believing in me and my work since the very beginning with David.
  • To the number 1 fan in our Fan Club:  Ben Lee, friend and tanguero (my first Tango student in NYC). Always there to help on set and off. And thanks for driving us to Ikea all these years!
  • To Christina Graybard for your friendship and for editing of my book Unveiling Motion and Emotion. Your generosity astonishes me!
  • To Julia Lindpaintner, dancer, intern, office administrator, website designer, graphic designer and translator of my book Unveiling Motion and Emotion. Your love, creativity, imagination, dedication and friendship are true treasures!
  • To my Friends in our past and present ALDD Advisory Board: Svetlana Mikhalevskaya, Patricia Young, Amy Larimer, Liz Espert, Marji Liebman, Calogero Salvo, Charlotte Patton, Melissa Bernstein, Jennifer Johanos,  Muriel Karlin, Tina Graybard and Nichole Spates.
  • To my local business supporters who have donated food to cultivate our community and feed the starving artists who come to our Fundraisers and Premieres: Sette Panni Bakery, Sal’s Pizzeria, Fortunato Bakery, Cheers Restaurant, C-Town, Dunkin Donuts, To the World Farm and Edible Arrangements.
  • To my artist friends and supporters who have donated for our fundraiser over all these years: HERE Arts Center, Surramics, Alegrias Flamenco Tablao, Annie Rachele Lanzillotto and  KIT Italian Theater.
  • To Stephen Petrilli, who illuminated and designed the lights for our shows!
  • To Kathleen Hines, Kate Ladenheim, Julia Lindpaintner, Misaki Kawachi, Leslie Berman, Katie Clancy, Sarah Rose and Caitlin Thurgood for making the administrative work a pleasure. Thanks for your hard work and for sharing life experiences!

To all the supporters, family and friends for supporting us economically and emotionally. You make this company possible. Thanks for trusting and for being my partner.

To all the people and institutions that believed in us and invited us to be Artist in Residency, where ideas and emotions were challenged, explored and crafted:  DMAC (Duo Multicultural Art Center), Dance New Amsterdam, New Dance Group, Envoy Enterprises, Silo (through The Field/Artward Bound program), Envoy Enterprises, The Cave/ Leimay and Chashama.

We are blessed to have received the support of the following Foundations: MATERIALS FOR THE ARTS, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education, Brooklyn Arts Council, Independent Community Foundation, Edward Foundation Art Fund, Puffin Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Places where we often rehearsed or held our DanceDrama Labs: DMAC, CPR, SounDance, Gibney Dance, Culture Hub and The Cave/Leimay. Thanks for making us feel at home, storing our props, letting us play freely. Thanks for providing a roof over our ideas!

Presenters and festivals that hosted us in NY:  Baryshnikov Arts Center, Dance New Amsterdam, New Dance Group, Sangeeta, IDACO, Sheen Theater, Young Soom Kim, Dixon Place, Figment Festival, The Bernie Wohl Center, Gibney Dance Center, Movement Research at Eden’s Expressway, MacGuinness Senior Center (part of SPARK program), Alchemical Theater Lab, DMAC- Duo Multicultural Arts Center, Arts In Odd Places/AIOP, Peridance Capezio Center, Casita Maria, Nuyorican Poet Café, City Reliquary Museum, Bronx Museum, Dance Parade, The Cave, Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, Argentinean Consulate in New York,  Movement Research at Judson Church, In Scena Italian Theater Festival, Bluestockings Bookstore, Lehman College, Wagner College, Staten Island, Instituto Cervantes, Hatch Series/The Works Studio, NYC Dance Week, APAP, Alvin Ailey Studios, Roulette, Williamsburg Dance Festival – WAH, Wave Rising Series, Greenwood Cemetery, Little Italy Festival, University Settlement, Green Space, City Center, 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, DUMBO Festival, 60X60 Dance, Merce Cunningham Studio, 92nd Street Y, Performance Lab/Steps in Broadway, The Rover,  Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival, Collaborations in Dance Festival, The Tank, Gershwin Hotel, Episcopal Actors Guild, Brecht Forum, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Artist for Peace Festival, Crystal Theater ( CT),  JCC, Triskelion Arts, SounDance, the cell Theatre, NYU Casa Zerilli Marimo, 3LD Center for Art & Technology, Kumble Theater/Long Island University, FAR Space, WAXworks, North Hills Country Club, Felician College ( NJ), Williamsburg Performance Alliance, Oasis Festival,  Abrons Arts Center, Joyce Soho, Studio 111 , Cool NY Dance Festival, Galapagos, Taiwan Center, The Bridge for Dance, La Mama, HERE Art Center and Fordham University.

Festivals and Universities that hosted us in USA: Randolph College (VA), Charlotte Dance Festival (NC), Latino Arts Festival (Atlanta), Reinhardt College (Waleska, GA) and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College  (VA).

Venues that hosted us in Argentina: Centro Cultural Borges, Teatro Municipal (B.BCA), Teatro Colon (Punta Alta), Cafe Museo Historico B. Bca, Museo Ing.White, Teatro El Tablao , Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Centro Cultural e Historico Universidad Nacional del Sur and L’Atelier Centro Creativo de Danza.

***Note: Sorry if I forgot someone – Know that you are deeply appreciated!

10 years exploring how memory and spirituality shape identity.  My dance-theater works provoke historical and social consciousness by breaking down the wall between artist and audience.

Thanks again for being my Partner! Anabella

SAVE THE DATE: 10th  ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION of ALDD       
Thursday October 20th at 6 PM

at Argentinean Consulate in NYC, 12 West 56th Street
Performance is free to the public, but space is limited and reservations are necessary
To reserve, please contact info@anabellalenzu.com

Choreography by Anabella Lenzu
Direction: Daniel Pettrow
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer, Dina Denis, Sydney Ruff-Wong, Graham Cole & Anabella Lenzu

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