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Barney Yates


In "No More Beautiful Dances," Anabella Lenzus' face is projected by small white camera in front of her. Red crayon drawing is a self-portrait, traced on white paper she stands on.

On October 30, 2021 Argentine-born choreographer-dancer Anabella Lenzu celebrated her 15th anniversary with a zoomcast of four film renditions of her dance works, combined with a one-on-one interview with dance journalist Celia Ipiotis ("Eye on Dance & the Arts"). The selections were meant to expose Lenzu's soul as a woman, mother and immigrant.

It was my second exposure to Lenzu, having covered her performance in The Exponential Festival at The Brick in 2020. So I was somewhat oriented for "No More Beautiful Dances," the first piece. It's about the Caesarian delivery of her son. Lenzu draws herself on the floor, makes mouth sounds, sings vowels, slaps herself, and goes deeply into her identity as a dancer during her pregnancy and childbirth. The stage version I saw then was more elaborate and I was wishing I could revisit its details, because she had a lot more to say with them. Or so it seemed, to my memory. Referring back to my article, I read that whatever she did was projected, with time delays, from cameras on her head and feet. So there were three perspectives: our view of her and those of the two cameras. This was, to me, a more complex and rewarding experience because it explored how memory could differ from a one observer to another, and it evoked such ideas as: there must be no emotional memory for pain, because if there were, no woman would become pregnant for a second time.

In this film, she photographed her physical changes into a mom, all in black and white. The film is b/w because the first photos were b/w. Lenzu works with a lot of closeups: the camera is a magnifying glass. The videos capture capsules of time that are precious. The rhythm of the edits seem to be intended to disorient the audience.

The second film is "The Night You Stopped Acting." It's all in Spanish with supertitles. Lenzu confronts the absurdity of life, being both an artist and a spectator in today's world, and an immigrant. She speaks of the bloody history of Argentina, where from 1973 to 1983, over 100,000 people "disappeared."She was born in the beginning of that wave, in 1975. There is the refrain, "I am an artist and this is for me. I am an artist and this is me."

Third, we get "Out of the Folds of Women," which is presented as a personal vision of femininity. On the left, her face is seen through a glass pitcher. In the right part of the split scene we see her reaching behind a nylon drop. Then on the left, we see glass jewelry, her midriff, the pitcher, a perfume bottle. She is shot from below, and behind curved glass. We see chandelier prisms. Ultimately, we get a Walt Whitman quote: "Unfolded out of the folds of woman Man comes unfolded. And is always to come unfolded."

Last, it was "Heart Beats," about the mother-daughter relationship and everything that goes with it. We see her daughter, Fiamma Lenzu-Carrroll, in closeup and Annabella's hands. Fiamma draws in chalk and spins; she is mentored by her mom. They draw together on transparent plastic or glass; Annabella draws her own face by holding a paper over it. Fiamma brushes Annabella's hair. The film changes from b/w to color at the end.

Annabella's husband, Todd Carroll, is a photographer and he is videographer and close collaborator on all the films. She thanks La MaMa's Nicky Paraiso and Pioneers Go East Theater Company. She has made seven films in all, four of which constituted this program.

Celia Ipiotis managed not to impose herself on the interview, but to serve mostly as a quiet prompter for Lenzu's autobiographical musings, yielding primacy to the artist, which shows a special touch and a unique one in our time of grandstanding interviewers on news shows.


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