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Posts Tagged ‘The Alchemical Theater Lab’

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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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How to photograph an idea.

How to photograph a movement.

How to photograph a life.

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

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In February of 2014, Anabella Lenzu, Argentinean choreographer who moved to New York 10 years ago, lost her father. After just being granted an artisan residency at DUO Multicultural Arts Center, she decided that now was the time to step away from her political piece and try and create something that wasn’t necessarily an homage to her father, but focused on the memories and moments she kept with her now that he had passed.

While we sat down to discuss the ideas behind this new abstract way of using photography so heavily in her piece, Anabella remembered that when she and her husband moved to New York, her father had told him to photograph everything that they saw, and once they returned to Argentina, her husband’s photos could be displayed in a gallery. They never got around to taking the photos until now. Anabella set out to rehearsal in downtown Manhattan and began to photograph anything she was drawn to in a completely unconscious, non-specific pattern. She would take photos zoomed in so tightly that you might not even realize what the object was. She would take pictures of things she saw on her travels that were broken or covered in graffiti, or decaying. She took pictures of construction sites, walls, even a rusted nail on the ground. The choreography of this piece; In Pursuit of Happiness isn’t abstract however the photos are, creating a really thought provoking juxtaposition.

After approximately 5 months of this process, Anabella decided to start to really look at what she was photographing. Each photo she took had some kind of connection to her father. Anabella says that the photos were “…a safe media that allowed me to express how I feel and it was much more in a way, safe or secure because I didn’t need to articulate my ideas with my dancers because it was something emotional.” The photos became a coping mechanism for her while working through the grieving process. In these early stages, it was easier to be behind the camera reacting to what she was seeing rather than what she was feeling.

Her husband sent her off to rehearsal one day with a small cordless projector and a slideshow of everything she had done so far, telling her to just ‘go play around’. Anabella and a friend began to pair dance with the photos and saw magic. The photos created a costume on her dancer, along with an “emotional and atmospheric environment”. Once this process really got rolling, Anabella continued to take photos to enhance movement she had choreographed, including photos of her father’s old printing shop back in Argentina. This organic, fresh new style of choreography and performance, Anabella tells me, is extremely metaphoric. A father projects on his daughter, just as Anabella projects her photos on her dancers and audience. Anabella’s father projected on her, just as Anabella projects on her own children and her students. It’s about the feeling and the presence of her father in her life instead of a scrapbook full of photos. People leave us with feelings that can be universally understood, which is what Ms. Lenzu hopes the audience takes away from this piece.

Be sure not to miss In Pursuit of Happiness by Anabella Lenzu/Dance Drama. Preview performance at the Argentinean Consulate- Wednesday, September 30 @ 6pm (RSVP required). Public premiere at the Alchemical Theater  Friday October 23 @ 8pm through October 25.  Limited seating! Tickets online https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784

For more information check out AnabellaLenzu.com

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IN PURSUIT

BY TODD CARROLL

Naturally, because I’m a photographer, I compare creating the soundscape for Anabella Lenzu’s work to creating a background for a portrait. Think of any portrait in your favorite gallery, and it’s the person who stands out, as it should be. The background gives context, provides atmosphere and augments the feeling being transferred.

Everyone can immediately recall Mona Lisa’s smile, but for those who dig deeper, the background contains information that adds to the overall impression. My sound work on In Pursuit of Happiness is slightly less sophisticated than Da Vinci’s (hold for laugh), but does provide a kind of scenery and environment in which the viewers can immerse themselves and have a rich experience.

I started collaborating with Anabella in 2008, when I did the multimedia projections for the shows The Garden (2008), The Corral ( 2009) and The Grass is Always Greener… (2010), then again in 2013 when I created the soundscape for the show Pachamama: Mother World. Every project is different, of course, however In Pursuit presents new challenges The idea is to weave a lifetime of memories together using sound. Old pop songs, interviews, and field recordings all find their way into the soundtrack, linked together by love, fear and hope.

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Todd Carroll, a professional photographer and educator with over 20 years experience, presently maintains a photo-studio in Brooklyn, New York, where he works freelance for various international magazines and publications, as well as his personally driven projects. He obtained a Masters of Professional Studies in Digital Photography Degree from SVA in NYC in 2009 and currently teaches classes there. For more information or if you are interested in purchasing work, please contact: info@ToddCarrollPhotography.com or visit his website.

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Celebrating its 9th Anniversary, New York based Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama presents :

In Pursuit of Happiness  by Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama

PREVIEW PERFORMANCE:

Wednesday, September 30 at 6PM at Argentinean Consulate (12 W 56th St, New York)

20 minute performance followed by Q&A and refreshments.

Limited seating (RSVP required) info@AnabellaLenzu.com

PUBLIC PREMIERE:

Friday, October 23 at 8pm, Saturday, October 24 at 8p & Sunday, October 25 at 8pm 

at The Alchemical Theater Lab, NYC (104 W 14th Street, New York, NY 10011).

Limited seating. 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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IN PURSUIT by DANIEL PETTROW

How do we fill the space of a loved one who is no longer there?

What is left behind?  

Is there residue of that person seeping into our lives?  

Or do they bubble up at unexpected moments like flashes in the dark?  

What does it mean to be a “ghost”?

These are the thoughts that dance in my head as Im working on the new creation IN PURSUIT by Anabella Lenzu.  

I began collaborating with Anabella on this new dance piece shortly after her father passed away.  The loss of her father was still fresh, raw, and jarring.  We didnt know where we were heading when we began rehearsals, but we had a starting point:  stories about her father and stories told by her father.  In early rehearsals I started each day by interviewing Anabella.  They were simple and direct questions about what her father was like (working at a printing press and coming home with his hands covered in black ink), what he was fascinated with in life (hypnotism and auras), and funny, quirky anecdotes (ways he would trick Anabella into taking medicine when she was a little girl).  

These interviews created source material that we began to work with.  Eventually we recorded them and played them in the room like a radio.  We wanted a detached or removed quality to these stories.  We wanted the quality of something that you only get a glimpse of every once in a while.  Something that can shut off at any moment.  

Visually for the piece Anabella collected images that focused on objects and locations that revealed dramatic change over time, deterioration, disappearance, and entropy.  These shattered collages were overlaid in the space with a projector to create a dynamic environment. The projections revealed the literal space we were working in while at the same time covering it with an image that dynamically changed how we felt in the space as viewers.  

One element that was discovered in rehearsals was the relationship between Anabella and the dancer, Lauren Ohmer.  Anabella would carry the projector and follow Lauren throughout the space.  As we rehearsed I thought it was fascinating to have Anabella in the space exposed like that.  Literally she was the choreographer observing her dancer close up.  The more we developed the piece, the more it gave the impression of a ghost following a body around a space.  It also created the feeling of someone trying to examine a foggy memory to gain clarity.

As we continue to rehearse it has become clear to me that this piece is about the impossible attempt to capture an essenceof a father who has passed away.  Even though the attempt is impossible, it is that struggle which becomes fascinating.  Anabellas struggle to conjure the image of her father and his dramatic influence on her life as a choreographer and person has become the drama.

What are we left with?  A ghost?  A haunting?  Or perhaps the residue of this journey seeps into the cracks of our fingers like ink, leaving a subtle imprint echoing what was there before.  Now it is gone, but somehow, beneath the skin, it is a part of us forever.  

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DANIEL PETTROW

Daniel Pettrow has been an associate actor with The Wooster Group since 2006.  He has performed in HAMLET, VIEUX CARRE, and WHO’S YOUR DADA?.  He is also an instructor at The Wooster Group’s “Summer Institute.”  Daniel is a frequent collaborator with Bluemouth inc, and has presented DANCE MARATHON at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Daniel works closely with French Director Arthur Nauzyciel, having performed the lead roles in Jean Genet’s SPLENDID’S, Bernard Marie Koltes’ BLACK BATTLES WITH DOGS, ROBERTO ZUCCO, and Mark Antony in JULIUS CAESAR.  Daniel directed Marie Darrieussecq’s THE SEA MUSEUM for FIAF’S “Crossing the Line” festival.  The production took place in Brooklyn’s abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel – the oldest subway tunnel in the world.  He directs sketch comedy group “Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting” at The P.I.T.  Film/TV includes:  “In Stereo”, “Red Band Society”, “Good Eats”, “The Cult of Sincerity”, “The Last Adam”, “FightF*ckPray”, “Psychopathia Sexualis”, “Kathy T”, “My Uncle Sidney.” Visit his website.

Pettrow has been collaborating with DanceDrama since 2010 as a director, voice and acting consultant/teacher.

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In-Pursuit---postcard-front2

Celebrating its 9th Anniversary, New York based Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama presents :

In Pursuit of Happiness  by Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama

PREVIEW PERFORMANCE:

Wednesday, September 30 at 6PM at Argentinean Consulate (12 W 56th St, New York)

20 minute performance followed by Q&A and refreshments.

PUBLIC PREMIERE:

Friday, October 23 at 8pm, Saturday, October 24 at 8p & Sunday, October 25 at 8pm 

at The Alchemical Theater Lab, NYC (104 W 14th Street, New York, NY 10011).

Limited seating! 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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In-Pursuit---postcard-front2

Celebrating its 9th Anniversary, New York based Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama presents three dance-theater performances from October 23-25, 2015 at The Alchemical Theater Lab in NYC.

In Pursuit of Happiness

by Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama

PREVIEW PERFORMANCE:

Argentinean Consulate (12 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019)

Wednesday, September 30 at 6PM

Exclusive performance for invited guests and media professionals

20 minute performance followed by Q&A and refreshments

Limited seating (RSVP required) info@AnabellaLenzu.com

PUBLIC PREMIERE:

The Alchemical Theater Lab, NYC (104 W 14th Street, New York, NY 10011)

Friday, October 23 at 8pm

Saturday, October 24 at 8p

Sunday, October 25 at 8pm

General Admission: $20 / Tickets at the door

Limited seating. RSVP recommended: info@AnabellaLenzu.com

Choreography: Anabella Lenzu

Direction: Daniel Pettrow

Dancers: Lauren Ohmer & Anabella Lenzu

Music Landscape: Todd Carroll

Photo Projections: Anabella Lenzu

What does it mean to disappear? 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.”

“There’s an American indigenous tradition found in the islands of the Pacific, in Canada and also places like Chiapas, in Mexico. It goes like this: when a master potter gives up his trade because his hands are no longer steady and his eyesight is failing, there’s a ceremony at which he presents his best pot, his masterpiece, to a young potter just starting out. The apprentice takes the flawless pot and smashes it into a thousand pieces on the ground. He then picks them up and mixes them into his own stock of clay. That’s the kind of memory I believe in.” 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. From a vibrating silence emerges unexpected meaning, so profoundly personal that is anonymous and universally accessible.

In-Pursuit-postcard-back

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