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

Anabella Lenzu, founder of DanceDrama, author of Unveiling Motion and Emotion, and teacher and choreographer for 25 years, is deep in the creative process of her newest book. Inspiration struck when Anabella came across many different texts while teaching, all of which didn’t truly explain the movement they were discussing, as it is so hard to put into a photograph, what every part of a dancers body is doing. Anabella’s philosophy is that the journey is the destination – one must bring as much focus and energy to training as to performing.

Over the past year, Anabella has written 32 articles exploring multiple topics for her latest book, Meaningful Gestures: Inner Thoughts and Outward Expressions. This second book, is meant to be an educational guidebook for young dancers, actors and performers, taking experiences from her own classroom, after deep discussions with her students and colleagues. Meaningful Gestures will stray from the format of the first book, as this will be more focused on the technical physical and mental aspects of dance itself. Some featured articles will include Movement or Gestures, Why I am Giving Away my Secrets, The Mask as a Doorway, Breathe before You Move, and Body Architecture, Discovering Improvisation.  This book comes naturally to Anabella; she tells me: ‘Dance is my primary mode of personal expression, my obsession, how I make my living and where I find joy. I have strong opinions about dance that often contradict what is popular, and I enjoy explaining my position to people who are interested and engaged in dance. I believe that Dance is union and communion with ourselves, with others and with the environment. I celebrate, meditate, respond, protest, explore, scream, cry and laugh about life through dance. My own work is intimate, audacious and historically/socially conscious.’ The hope is that this book will serve current and future dancers as they continue to train and explore the professional world of dance.

This past summer, Anabella worked with her husband and photographer Todd Carroll to best capture dancer Lauren Ohmer working with her body and dissecting each specific movement. The book will feature not only pictures of Lauren, but also photos including Anabella working with Lauren and other dancers, helping to make the text more clear. Anabella is working with a new special program on the iPad Pro, to create illustrations to go over some photographs and to serve as companions to the text. Detailed drawings of the muscles and the body in movement, will help dancers better understand strong technique and muscle movement.

As of today, Anabella is hopeful that with her busy schedule, the book will make its premiere in January of 2017! Thank you to all of those who have supported the book thus far, I am sure it will not disappoint!

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ANABELLA LENZU’S LITERARY TANGO

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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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