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Posts Tagged ‘Argentinean Choreographer’

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Being a guest Choreographer for the Mata Hari Opera Production in NY, 2017

Mata Hari (World Premiere)

January 5th-7th, and 11th-14th, at 7 PM and January 8th at 2 PM

at HERE Arts Center, New York City

part of Prototype Festival

Composer: Matt Marks
Librettist/Director: Paul Peers

It has been a journey of exploration and self-analysis being the guest choreographer for Mata Hari Opera production, sharing my creative process, inspiration, and artistic quest.

With the magic of giving shape to an idea, an emotion, or an opinion comes great responsibility. Sharing my work with others provides the ultimate fulfillment, allowing me to broaden my search and crystallize my views on whatever moves me deeply.

Like an artisan, with each choreographic section I refine and explore ideas through movement and examine how to communicate.

This is not the first time that I have choreographed an opera. Previously, I created dances for “Il Pagliacci” by the opera director Guy Ariel Kruh (Paris/France) in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1998. Later that same year I choreographed “Cavalleria Rusticana”  by Bahia Blanca Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of Eugenia Gallego in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.

I also choreographed the “Notre dame de Paris” musical in Sardegna, Italy in 2003, as well as being guest choreographer for many theater productions, TV programs, and dance companies in Argentina, Italy and USA.

In this article I would like to talk about the relationship between Dance and Music. As a choreographer and maker of metaphoric images and sensations, I understand the power of dance as a language.

How does one balance the meaning of the lyrics in the song when there is powerful movement and visual effects at the same time? Words are specific, movement is subjective.

As an audience member, there is a choice to make with your attention. Imagine someone massaging you when to are eating a piece of steak while smelling roses at the same time.

I remember my choreography teacher Mary Anthony talking about using music without lyrics, because words are your direct intellectual competitor.

What about when the lyrics are in a foreign language for that audience? Alternately, what is the effect if the lyrics and audience speak the same language?

Like husband and wife, music and dance share the same bed but are two different people choosing to live together.

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So how do I negotiate the lyrics and the music in an opera with the movements that Mata Hari evokes in me?

John Martin, in his book Modern Dance, offers some help in his thoughts about some of the relationships between music and dance.

  • Music interpretation: This is a contradictory formula, how can a dancer interpret Bach or Beethoven? The composer expresses himself sufficiently in musical form, not needing a dancing or gestural commentary. The dancer’s intention is to translate his own emotion, his own personal reaction to a determinate music. Another choice is interpreting the content of the music.
  • Transposition: visualize merely its form, translating sound patterns into movement patterns. The most tragic experience was Rite of Spring by Nijinsky, applying eurhythmics from Jacques Dalcroze.  Nijinsky divided the dancers in groups representing the different instruments of the orchestra and attributed a corresponding movement to each note.
  • Contrapuntal background:  placing movement patterns against music patterns. This is a compromise between interpretative and transposition. The music is the background and the movements are a visual counterpoint.
  • Music should merely mark the tempo and phrasing of what a choreographer wants to do using ready-made music or a specially make composition.
  • Mary Wigman, a German dancer, choreographer and notable as the pioneer of expressionist dance, proposed that the solution to this problem was that the music must be created at the same time as the dance, in a mutual collaboration between choreographer and composer.  To respect the specificity of dance, the music must be born from live movements like the dance.

For the Opera Mata Hari, music composed by Matt Marks and directed by Paul Peers, I decide to explore Contrapuntal background, as well as Music interpretation.

Transmitting my ideas as a guest choreographer working with a company for a short period of time is a delicate process. Precision, clarity of ideas, and effective synthesis help new dancers grasp my work and find the focus of their creative and interpretive search.

Working as a guest choreographer allows me to keep an open mind and heart because every company and group has its own particular architecture, ethos, and psychology. My job is to make the creative process accessible, exciting, and rewarding for both parties.

  • To Purchase tickets for Mata Hari  Opera Production CLICK HERE

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Article by Angela Schöpke  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

While watching Anabella and AL / DD dancers continue to recreate and rediscover Pachamama: Mother World, it occurred to me how vital the work’s soundscape is in supporting the emotional journey that Pachamama embodies. The music acts as an integral background to the visual counterpoint of the dancers’ movements. I wondered, what was it like to build an auditory experience that is both derived from an emotional starting point, and that also creates an emotional experience for its audience?

The marriage of music and choreography is no easy problem to solve. Anabella suggests that for her (and to echo the words of expressionist dance pioneer, Mary Wigman), “the solution to this problem is that the music must be created at the same time as the dance, in a mutual collaboration between choreographer and composer.  To respect the specificity of dance, the music must be born from live movements like the dance.”

Todd Carroll, soundscape designer, very generously took the time to speak with me about his perspective on the collaborative and creative process in designing Pachamama’s sound (thanks, Todd!). In the excerpt from our conversation below, Todd describes what collaboration with Anabella meant for him, his sound inspirations, and his experience of Pachamama’s restaging so far.

What was the collaborative artistic process like when you worked with Anabella on the soundscape for Pachamama?

I’ve worked with Anabella on music several times. For Pachamama, I came up with a sound piece for the first time that she worked on the choreography with dancers. The choreographic piece changed dramatically during the rehearsal process after that, and those changes were then reflected in the sound. Much of the exchange we had during the collaborative process was about thoughts on where the emotional impetus for where the music came from.

Also, sometimes Anabella would say that certain things need to be there, like animal sounds, so I made sure to reference those. Or for example, there’s a section of Pachamama called “Babies,” so Anabella explained its thematic significance and I then chose to add in baby sounds from open sound libraries that weave in and out of the soundscape to reflect Anabella’s thematic thoughts.

You mentioned animal and baby sounds. Were there other sound inspirations you drew upon in developing Pachamama’s soundscape?

Well, Anabella did a lot of research for the piece with some of the last surviving members of the Selk’nam (Onas) before they passed away. Anabella chose to approach creating Pachamama from a standpoint not of recreating the ritual of initiation that the Selk’nam practiced, but rather of using that ritual of initiation as a starting point for her choreographic work.

An important element that Anabella chose to keep, was this idea of the audience watching the performance as though they were the audience for an initiation ritual. They’re coming into see this performance and they leave transformed.

So musically what all of that meant for me, is that there were two musical reference points. There were recordings of one of the last shaman singers of the tribe called Lola Kiepja, which became a very important inspiration for the musical composition that I developed. Lola Kiepja provided the sound world with the only sound recordings we have of the Selk’ Nam experiences. Although no one will be able to understand the lyrics, I think it communicates very clearly the trance state she entered while singing. The heavy repetition and syncopation is a musical device for entering into a trance that can be heard the world over, from ancient music to the contemporary trance music people dance to today. It affords introspection, encourages transformation, and ties us to the past by summoning ritual practice.

The second musical reference point was the musician, Moondog. Moondog is an interesting character. People know him as the Viking of 6th Avenue. Moondog, also uses intense syncopation and was influenced by Native American music and chanting. He also blends in the urban sound of New York City, sometimes inventing instruments in order to get the sound he was looking for. He also had some classical training in his youth so I felt his music was a kind of bridge between those two worlds. Those were my starting points for the sound.

The Pachamama soundscape is like gumbo. Kiepja and Moondog were the raw ingredients, but I kept adding spices and stirring the pot until it tasted right. I used effects and distorted the pitch, or sometimes added reverb to achieve a larger space. I added animal sounds or a riff from Thelonius Monk. It’s a very intuitive process that I worked intensely on, then shared with Anabella to see if was going in the right direction. Often I went too far and the music became muddled. Anabella has a good ear, and through the process we hopefully ended up with something that works for the piece.

Much like Anabella’s approach to the choreography, I tried not to recreate what the Selk’ Nam initiation ritual might have sounded like, rather I tried to give Pachamama a familiar but challenging landscape. We investigate this small corner of history to see how it might connect to us here and now.

What is it like to experience Pachamama being recreated several years later, for a different space, and for a different group of dance artists?

Pachamama as a whole has changed a lot because the dancers are different, so they’re in bringing very different interpretations of the work. Especially important to Pachamama, is that a lot of the dancers’ motivation and expression is very personal. Anabella really expects the dancers to do their homework and to go through the process of finding what it is for them that gives the movement life. She doesn’t tell them where the life comes from, they need to find it.

So there are certain parts that will come to light that I didn’t notice as much before, and some parts that I’m expecting to notice, but I won’t anymore. But what remains true is that Pachamama still hangs together as a piece.

Pachamama: Mother World will be performed at Dixon Place’s FastForward Festival on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:30pm, and on Saturday, May 28th at 7.30pm as part of Sheen Theater’s IDACO Festival. Save the dates and get your tickets!

http://www.anabellalenzu.com/news/

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Pachamama: Mother World

Pachamama: Mother World is an exploration of Dance Theatre inspired by the male initiation rituals of the Selk’nam, a tribe of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The performance unfolds like a prehistoric commedia dell arte, moving away from the presentational side of dance and reconnecting with the primal impulses of art.
Choreographer: Anabella Lenzu 
Music Landscape: Todd Carroll
Acting and Voice Coach: Daniel Pettrow
Costume and Mask Designer: Jennifer Johanos
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer, Erik Zarcone, Graham Cole, Hope Parker and Sydney Ruf-Wong
Rehearsal Assistant: Hope Parker
Apprentices: Dina Denis & Cesar Brodermann

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Re-creating Pachamama: Mother World  in Honor of AL / DD’s 10-Year Anniversary

Article by Angela Schöpke  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary as a company through recreating its seminal work, Pachamama: Mother World.

Pachamama: Mother World was first choreographed by Anabella in residence at DUO Multicultural Arts Center (DMAC) and Envoy Enterprises, NYC in 2013, and the company is excited to be rehearsing the piece back at DMAC from February-April of this year. The piece will be performed by Lauren Ohmer (Assistant to the Choreographer), Graham Cole, Erik Zarcone, Kara Chang and Sydney Ruf-Wong. Hope Parker as a rehearsal assistant and dancers Cesar Bordermann and Dina Denis will support the performance as apprentices.

AL/DD will host an open rehearsal on Monday, April 18th at 7:30pm in DMAC’s theater. The company will then perform a thirty-five minute excerpt of the piece at Dixon Place’s FastForward Festival on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:30pm, and the full-length work as part of Sheen Theater’s Italian Dance Connection (IDACO) Festival on Saturday, May 28th, 7.30pm.

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Why Pachamama?

Pachamama: Mother World is an exploration of Dance Theatre as well as an anthropologic study of male initiation rituals of the Selk’ nam (Onas), a subgroup of the Tehuelches tribe that inhabits the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The male initiation rituals of the Selk’ nam are celebrated annually, lasting anywhere from three months to almost the entire year.  These rituals have three main functions: initiating boys to adulthood; passing on heritage and cultural legacy of the tribe through sharing songs, spiritualism and religious knowledge; and entertaining the tribe’s women.

Pachamama: Mother World’s performance unfolds like a prehistoric commedia dell arte.  Thirteen characters participate in ten specific rites within the larger ritual of initiation. The rituals, as well as the performance, make use of masks that give the characters superhuman power.

With the 10th anniversary of the company, Anabella is expanding AL/DD to include more dancers. AL/DD was pleased to select a group of four new full company members and three apprentices at an audition held on February 7th at Peridance Capezio Center. New dancers come from the U.S., Mexico, and Italy and have diverse training backgrounds ranging from Juilliard to Joffrey to the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Pachamama: Mother World will act as an important platform of departure for AL/DD’s new dancers to be initiated as members of the company. “We use masks to explore identity,” shares Anabella, “The dancers need to pass through thirteen different masked characters. As they do, each archetypal mask reveals something about the dancer.” 

These thirteen characters describe a range of archetypal narratives, which I’ll take the license to list below as I find that seeing them all in one place reveals the simply incredible breadth of life each dancer must explore as part of his or her initiation. These characters include: Babies( K’terrnen), Cuckold (Koshmenk), Drunk Couple (Hashe and Wakus), Mafia (Shorts), Erotic Clowns (Los Hayilan), Medicine Man / Shaman (Olum), Enigmatic Creature (Tanu), Mother Earth (Xalpen), Prostitute (Kulan), Warrior (Halahaches), The Invisible Foxes (Waash-Heuwan), The Elegant Clowns (Ulen) and The Dancer (Matan)

Each of these characters has an important function in the Selk’ nam ritual as well as in AL/DD’s study thereof. For example, when Selk’ nam men would perform as Babies, they were responsible for communicating with their all female audience whom the community felt were good or bad wives and mothers through the action of advancing or retreating respectively. As such, the Baby played an important role in teaching community values. AL/DD’s engages these ideas deeply through its study of each masked character.

In a move away from the purely spectacular and presentational side of dance, Anabella’s work takes the opportunity to reconnect with the primal impulses of art, creation, communication, identity and celebration. 

Jennifer Johanos has made all masks and costumes, which were created entirely with materials donated by Materials for the Arts/NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education.

Daniel Pettrow, a long-time collaborator with AL/DD, is engaged as voice and acting coach with the dancers, and Todd Carroll has composed and recorded Pachamama: Mother World’s music landscape.

*****Pachamama was developed at DMAC through a space/rehearsal grant to Anabella Lenzu and Envoy Enterprises/ Jimi Dams and funded in part by generous grants from Edward Foundation Arts Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

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Article by Courtney Kenyon  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

Happy New Year!

As some of you may know, Anabella Lenzu/Dance Drama recently embarked on their Argentinian Tour! This tour took quite a bit of planning, especially since we were working internationally, but in the end this tour was not only rewarding artistically, but also personally for Anabella.

For starters, prior to this tour, Anabella had not been able to showcase her work in Argentina since 2005. To be able to share her work not only with friends and family, but also colleagues was extremely special. Many of Anabella’s past students and even their parents came to support AL/DD, and brought photos and shared fond memories of their days in the studio. As we spoke, Anabella told me that these encounters were some of Anabella’s favorite moments of the tour because they helped to remind her of who she was, and who she is. Living in New York, with everything going on, sometimes you forget the little things, and forget some special memories, but this tour helped all of Anabella’s worlds connect.  

The tour started in Buenos Aires, which was the more ‘professional’ leg of the tour. Anabella had dancers, directors, press and more attending her presentation of In Pursuit of Happiness and her book  Unveiling Motion and Emotion presentations at Centro Cultural Borges. Many dancers and directors mentioned that they were surprised to see something so avant garde as it is so different from usual Argentinian and European choreography. Anabella’s production is a melting pot, including media, dance and music, and Anabella even joins the piece at certain times. It is very evident that Anabella is inspired by many things and all her different surroundings whether it be in New York, Argentina, or Italy. Anabella’s work breaks boundaries all while having a strong message and keeping the language intact. 

Bahia Blanca was a much more family oriented experience. Most of Anabella’s relatives have never seen her perform before, so it was wonderful to have them experience and understand her life. Anabella held her book presentation at Centro Historico y Cultural UNS, at Universidad del Sur. It was a very different experience to share her repertory while presenting because so much of her work has to do with Argentinian culture, and politics. Many locals and guests were surprised dancer Lauren Ohmer was able to understand the Argentine culture through dance and movement. The simple response; dance is a universal language. The book presentation as a whole ‘felt more like an inside joke’ Anabella said, because she knew everyone in the room, she was able to talk with the audience instead of reading her prompts because she was discussing something both she and the audience shared, which was a very gratifying experience. In Pursuit of Happiness was performed at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Museos de Arte: MBA-MAC right in her hometown. Anabella is very open and was able to share a part of herself with many people she knew well, including some teachers from high school. Death is felt the same way universally, therefore the piece, in honor of her recently passed father was well received and appreciated by all.

Overall the tour was a great success. AL/DD received some wonderful coverage by local newspapers both in Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires, and the trip exceeded many Anabella’s expectations. It was so wonderful to have her whole family, and resident dancer Lauren and her husband together in Anabella’s own hometown. Anabella has always felt as though she lived in three different worlds between Argentina, the U.S, and Italy,  but having Lauren and husband Eric with her finally linked all her worlds into one, and for that, she is highly grateful.

CLICK this LINK to see photos from the Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama Argentinean Tour 2015! 

What the critics have said: 

Thanks for being by our side all these years!

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ANABELLA LENZU’S LITERARY TANGO

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Unveiling Motion and Emotion

Anabella Lenzu instructs class and uses her book, “Unveiling Motion and Emotion”, as a teaching tool

Photo credit Todd Carroll

By Lori Ann Doyon

Anabella Lenzu in partnership with photographer Todd Carroll authored Unveiling Motion and Emotion in order to share her techniques and journeys as a choreographer. As a choreographer who has worked in 3 continents (South America, Europe, and North America), she has many journeys to share. As a dancer professional for over twenty years she also has customized a technique that presently is accessed by her students and dancers at Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama.

“It’s about living a life in dance, engaging with the community you live in and connecting to your neighbors as well as your students to bring out the best in them,” said Anabella Lenzu about the content of her book. The book is bilingual and was published in 2013.

She first came to NYC about 16 years ago on a student visa from Argentina to attend the Juilliard School.

Her community for the past ten years has been Williamsburg. “It’s where my kids go to school, where I rehearse, perform and teach. I developed and produced an Italian Festival for several years (I’m half Italian and speak Italian as well) with help from the Brooklyn Arts Council, bringing together the Italian community together. I also taught Argentinean Tango classes when I first moved here many years ago, ” said Lenzu. She organized Argentinean Tango nights at Galapagos at its old location 70 N 6th St.

The Ciao Italy festival, referenced above, she produced from 2006–2010 and was held at the San Cono Association, at 231 Ainslie Street. She has taught classes and/or performed at: SounDance, WMACC, and at The Cave.

Lenzu currently teaches Intensives Dance Workshops at Center for Performance Research, 361 Manhattan Avenue.

On November 21, Anabella Lenzu celebrated the tenth year of Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama at Center for Performance Research. Those attending the event witnessed performances in Tango by Paloma Munoz also excerpts of choreography performed by Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama.

For more information about Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama or on how to purchase her book go to: http://www.anabellalenzu.com/

 

 

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Article by Courtney Kenyon  (AL/DD Marketing/ Development Intern)

Anabella Lenzu’s grandfather decided to move to Argentina after World War II. He packed up and became a construction worker. His son, Ms. Lenzu’s father, knew construction wasn’t the life he wanted, so at age 18 he developed his own printing shop. This kind of hard work is what Anabella has used as inspiration for her newest piece. Her father and her Grandfather knew hard work, just like dance is hard work.  Anabella grew up around construction sites and her father’s print shop. She learned how to lay brick, build walls, and how to work with the printing press from watching her father and grandfather, all while dancing since the age of four. Young Anabella lived in a world of texture.

At the start of their process, Anabella and her dancer, Lauren Ohmer, began to research how to build a wall, how to lay bricks and how to mix cement. As they explored, the choreography became instructional, like the videos. As Lauren is very precise and technical with her movements, she was able to improvise like ink flowing through a printing machine. Lauren was able to become the ink, or become the texture of the sand and lime.

While improvising in the studio, between March of 2014 and March of 2015, Anabella and Lauren began to create phrases, and experiment with changing directions and trying movements backwards or upside down. This is not a piece full of miming, but it’s about the abstraction about this idea and the feeling of building a wall and the feeling of printing with real ink. This is not a piece where you will see Lauren acting out the process of any of these jobs.

Anabella tells me she “never worked this instructionally in [her] life”, however, she realized how parallel this style of choreography is to her teaching job. “Building choreography and building technical dancers is like building a wall” with all its layers. It is all a metaphor. Through this process Anabella discovered she is a very technical choreographer. She worked with every angle of this piece and would improvise different feelings and emotions for hours with Lauren, and only a minute of this work would make it to the final product. Movement is the center of this piece. When all the layers come together and everything is changing around Lauren while she’s dancing, the movement stays intact.

During their many months at Duo Multicultural Arts Center (DMAC), Lauren and Anabella had been experimenting with paper and masks but it simply wasn’t working. Once Daniel Pettrow, the director, stepped in, he had Lauren kick and rip and tear the papers to shreds to the music, and Anabella found her inspiration. She broke into tears as Daniel was able to put into movement, what she wasn’t brave enough to feel herself. Anabella is never one to get angry, so this raw emotion was quite new to her, but helped her to shape her entire piece. The next day after one hour of work she was able to set the entire piece with Lauren. Those four minutes with Daniel’s guidance sparked something in her that was exactly what she needed.

This piece is not about imitation or how Ms. Lenzu felt when she lost her father, though she can remember his movements quite clearly. This is a piece filled with personal secrets, feelings and movements that can be understood universally.

Make sure you come see In Pursuit of Happiness Friday October 23-Sunday October 25 (8pm shows) at the Alchemical Theater in NYC. 

Limited seating! You can purchase your tickets online. https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784

Choreography:  Anabella Lenzu

Direction: Daniel Pettrow

Dancers: Lauren Ohmer & Anabella Lenzu

Music Landscape: Todd Carroll

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Article by Courtney Kenyon  (AL/DD Marketing/ Development Intern)

When Anabella Lenzu began this process in March of 2014 after the passing of her father, she had no idea what the end result was going to be, or what the product was going to become. Anabella began to ask herself how she was going to get to the heart of what she was feeling. So she began to write, and reminisce. With the material Anabella was able to come up with, there could be four or five more shows to include everything.

The creative process is quite different from the grieving process, however there are times where we find that they intertwine. When Anabella began working on this piece the two were tightly connected. The show was therapeutic. She began writing down stories, some important with strong moral endings, some bittersweet or light hearted. She wrote anything and everything even if it was painful, because this was what she wanted to give to her dad. As the process continued however, Anabella found that the two were no longer connected. Though she creates for herself because she needs to feel it, the work is not just about her, but it’s about anyone who has suffered loss. The show became less therapeutic and Anabella soon approached it technically. As she worked, the piece became about generosity. She became aware that there would be people watching the piece and wanted to give them a way to cope with something they might be going through personally.

Anabella and I spoke of the short time she lived in Italy between 2002 and 2005. She remembers the mourning dances. These were rituals that dated all the way back to Ancient Greece. Female dancers or actors of sorts would come and dance around the home of a family who had just lost someone, similar to an exorcism. They would try and cure the family’s grief by helping them to understand life and death. In Pursuit of Happiness has become Anabella’s own contemporary mourning dance, and she has really enjoyed exploring ‘the function of dance as a ritual’ the way it was used in ancient Italy and Greece.

Another therapeutic piece of this endeavor was the music. The tracking for the show is comprised of some of Anabella’s father’s favorite songs, environmental sounds, and a few other special sounds. One of the special sounds you will hear in the performance is a short song that Anabella’s father taught to her when she was just a young girl that you will hear a recording of her trying to teach it to Lauren, her dancer. Another special soundbite you might catch is the sound of her father’s printing press. Anabella was able to travel to Argentina and record the many sounds of her father’s shop. So what you hear is not just a door shutting, it is the door of his shop shutting, and it’s his printing press, and it’s his paper running through the machines. It gives the piece a much more authentic feel. It was a very ‘tangible way to document his printing in the show’.

Make sure you come see In Pursuit of Happiness Friday October 23-Sunday October 25 (8pm shows) at the Alchemical Theater in NYC. Limited seating! You can purchase your tickets online. https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784

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