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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 and Salvatore Cataldo 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.

“No more beautiful dances” will be performed at IDACO Festival on Friday, June 2nd at 7:30pm at Baruch Performing Arts Center. Get your tickets HERE: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10150937

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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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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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Article by Angela Schöpke  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

Welcome to part two of our dancer interviews! You may recall that in part one [hyperlink to pt. 1], apprentices lent some fascinating insight to the intellectual and emotional processes involved in dancing Pachamama: Mother World

In part two, you’ll notice that dancers Sydney, Graham, Erik, and Kara focus on the challenging relationship of the external expression of a character to the internal. What is it like to become a fox? What does it mean to be an enigma (and indeed is it even possible)? What does it feel like to be cuckolded?

In the following dancer comments, keep an eye out for reflections of AL / DD’s philosophy that motion creates emotion, emotion creates motion. As AL / DD inspiration, musician and teacher François Delsartre suggests, “Every gesture is expressive of something…It is preceded by and given birth by a thought, a feeling, an emotion, a purpose, a design or a motive.”

Here’s what the dancers said about their experiences:

“For me it’s about keeping it real, and what’s authentic to me. How do I think I would be if I were a fox, and embody what that is for me? I ask myself, what does a fox look like – how are its physical features? How is its spine? By focusing outward and thinking about what a fox looks like, that translates to an internal embodiment. Pachamama is about what dance can be, and how it can translate cultural history through storytelling. The creative process of Pachamama is allowing me to engage in that question and storytelling art.” – Kara Chang

“It’s one of the first pieces I’ve danced in a long time where I’ve had to develop characters. When I started, Anabella gave us a very brief outline of each character and how they each fit into the original ritual. I’ve used that as a base and have embellished that with my own life experiences. For example with the male erotic clown, I’ve used some of my own sexual experiences as a point of reference to understand the character. With Tanu it feels more a philosophical solo. Anabella describes it as an enigma, so I try to build these moments for myself that really surprise me to find that enigma. And I love that that’s what makes the character so captivating. The unknown. I try to take the physicality of each character and say okay, how does this physical move affect my breathing and my focus. I take that as a cue as to what I’m feeling in that moment, and then I sort of create narrative for myself. I discover so many moments with every rehearsal and know I will keep discovering them.” – Graham Cole

“Because the movement is so evocative and it’s so physical, when you do them you do feel a certain way.  You do feel exhausted, you do feel angry or it inspired your body physically to feel a certain way, so that invents what that piece is about because you’re showing it you’re not acting it. I’m letting the movement engage me in certain feelings.  I love what Anabella says about wanting to see artists discover something on stage, really letting that human movement change you in front of people. When I do these things I do feel changed. The other day when I was doing Koshmenk, I did feel angry by the end of it, or so emotionally exhausted that I almost had tears in my eyes from the sheer physicality of the movement and how intense it was.” – Sydney Ruf-Wong

“When I was auditioning I thought this work was just a mix of so many different styles of dance trying to tell a story, but now that I’m really in it, I realize that it’s more than that. It’s a personal journey to embody each character. This process is really challenging because each one of us [dancers] is more or less sensitive to different characters. Dancing with Anabella is very funny. Each rehearsal, I learn more about myself. I’m usually a closed internally-focused person, but with this raw and striking work I feel more confident in sharing my capabilities and also my challenges with some parts of the creative process not familiar to my background.” – Erik Zarcone

Thank you, dancers, for taking the time to share your thoughts! It’s been such a delight to watch you explore your own creative processes with Pachamama: Mother World, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you become each of the work’s thirteen characters in your upcoming performances.

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. Limited seating, RSVP: info@Anabellalenzu.com

http://www.AnabellaLenzu.com

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 Brodermann

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