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Article by Angela Schöpke  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

“My emphasis is on the journey rather than the destination, on understanding the impulses generated by movements and gestures. I am constantly searching for authentic and honest movement. Derived from our most basic impulses, my dances use this principle to examine relationships between the individual and society, exploring communication, identity, memory, and spirituality, the relationship between people and their environment. That was the inspiration for my company’s name – DanceDrama—because for me, dance and theater are inseparable.” – Anabella Lenzu

As Anabella mentions, journey rather than destination is vital to AL/DD work. With  AL/DD’s dancers moving into their second month of rehearsals for Pachamama: Mother World, we were curious about what their creative journeys have been like in learning the choreography, internalizing each of the thirteen different ritual characters, and of course for many – becoming new AL/DD initiates.

Pachamama: Mother World will be performed 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. AL/DD will also host an open rehearsal on Monday, April 18th at 7:30pm in Duo Multicultural Arts Center’s theater.

We started by chatting with Assistant to the Choreographer, Lauren, and apprentices Dina, Hope and  César  about their experiences jumping into Pachamama. Here’s what they had to say:

“Having gone through the process [of performing Pachamama: Mother World] once, there’s something familiar about coming back to it. Finding those characters, it almost feels like they never completely went away, I just have to find the place inside me where they are. I’m really glad to have the opportunity to do the piece again, because I feel like whenever you have the chance to perform a work that you’ve done before, you get to explore how far you can take it. You get to dig deeper into the characters and continue to keep them alive, give them more dynamics and more dimension. At the same time, I guess a lot of the process doesn’t feel like it’s changed very much when I approach this work from a performance standpoint. It takes just as much effort as it did the first time  to embody or tell the story of these characters because they are so foreign to us as human beings in present day New York society, where there the characters are acting in ways their New York contemporaries  never would.” – Lauren Ohmer

“I love the ritual behind the movement. I love that Anabella is looking at this ancient ritual and bringing it back into current society. I’m finding such parallels with human morality and behavior today and the rituals that these people did so many years ago. I think I’m somehow channeling these ancient characters, something very ancient in our own collective humanness. It’s almost like bloodline, but it’s this spiritual line, it’s this human line because I think the characters really deal with a lot of raw human emotions that we go through as we grow up, so it makes sense as a rite of passage.” – Dina Denis

“I think that this is one of the most intellectual pieces I’ve had to work through in dance. We have to take a character and become that character. It becomes storytelling. I’ve feel I’ve become a much smarter dancer. It’s a lot of things to think about and understand before doing it. As we work on the piece, I’m noticing more and more that the work is getting more and more emotional. I have to think about the characters every day before rehearsal to prepare myself. I have to think about Koshmek’s different mood swings, about internal energy for the Babies because they’re like rocks. I have to think more about how the character would experience a movement.” – Hope Parker

“Anabella really helps us develop the characters. It’s not only about the steps or the dance – it has a meaning to it. She has this thing called the inner chicken, which means that whenever you’re dancing you have to be thinking about something. So if you need to put your arm here, it’s not just putting your arm there. You’re thinking about why that’s happening the whole time. So it’s really hard, but then everything makes more sense. Everything is more specific.  I’ve never worked with such a strong connection to a character so that I really understand more. You actually discover so many things about yourself that you didn’t know you had.” – César Brodermann

Many thanks, Lauren and apprentices, for sharing your thoughts! Stay tuned for dancers’ Sydney, Graham, Erik, and Kara’s thoughts on embodying Pachamama!

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Dear Friends,
I am so happy invite you to the beginning of our celebratory year commemorating the 10th Anniversary of  Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama!
For the occasion, I am recreating a seminal work, Pachamama: Mother World and showing some excerpts from last year’s In Pursuit of Happiness.

Five shows coming up in April and May! 
Save these dates and join us!
A hug, Anabella
 
   

In Pursuit of Happiness

In Pursuit is a dance-theater piece that explores the themes of death, memory, disappearance, and hope through a collage of juxtapositions.
“I want the happiness that comes from both remembering and from fighting against remembering. A happiness that includes the sadness, pain and injury of experience but also goes forward. Not memory that works like an anchor, but like a catapult. Not a memory that you just arrive at, but one that’s a launch pad.” Eduardo Galeano
In Pursuit of Happiness is an ongoing daily memory trip to remember and honor Mrs. Lenzu’s father, Antonio, who served as her guide and scaffolding. 
Choreography: Anabella Lenzu
Direction: Daniel Pettrow
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer & Anabella Lenzu
Music Landscape: Todd Carroll
Photo Projections: Anabella Lenzu
  • Thursday, March 24 at 7pm at The Tank (151 W 46th St, 8th fl.). Anabella will be the guest judge for xyz nyc  and gives feedback to each of the choreographers selected for this festival.We will also present a 15 minute excerpt from In Pursuit of Happiness. Tickets $10
  • Sunday, April 10 at noon at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street, NY 10002): Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of The Field. We will present a 15 minute excerpt from In Pursuit of Happiness. Tickets $15

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, Kara Chan and Sydney Ruf-Wong
Rehearsal Assistant: Hope Parker
Apprentices: Hope Parker, Dina Denis & Cesar Bordermann
  • Monday, April 18 at 7:30pm at DMAC (62 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003): Open rehearsal of Pachamama: Mother World. Limited seating. Free Admission. RSVP: info@anabellalenzu.com
  • Tuesday, May 17 at 7:30pm at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street, NY 10002) as part of the Festival Fast Forward: We will present a full length performance of Pachamama: Mother World. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door
  • Saturday, May 28 at 7:30pm: IDACO Festival at Sheen Theater (18 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012): We will present a full length performance of Pachamama: Mother World. General Admission: $25/  Students $15

http://www.AnabellaLenzu.com

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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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