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IMPRESSIONS: Anabella Lenzu's "No More Beautiful Dances" part of the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival

IMPRESSIONS: Anabella Lenzu's "No More Beautiful Dances" part of the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on June 12, 2018
Photo courtesy of the artist

 La MaMa Moves! Dance Festiva presents

Choreographer/Dancer: Anabella Lenzu in "No More Beautiful Dances"

Wednesday May 30, 2018

Video Projection Design: Todd Carroll // Director: Daniel Pettrow // Costume: Jennifer Johanos

Whether investigating the immigrant experience, the legend of Mithras, stereotypical roles of Latin women or, in tonight’s case, her life, Anabella Lenzu delves into her subject matter with unabashed commitment. She wants us to experience the meat and gristle of things.

In No More Beautiful Dances, Lenzu recounts how she metamorphosed from a bulimic, dancing girl with rosebud breasts (whose behind was once featured in a glossy magazine) to a forty-something-woman-mother-artist with big boobs and a round, doughy belly,

Does this transformation please her? During the solo work, she says, “I changed physically, emotionally, spiritually, but I am not ready for it.”

Beginning from a seated position in darkness — a contemplative, weighted statue — Lenzu rises to enter the lit center stage. She moves on a large square of white canvas there, tracing around her body and drawing on it with vibrant colors as she tells stories about her life.

Anabella squats around a camera. She wraps her arms around herself. A film of her face is projected on the wall behind him.
Anabella Lenzu

She slaps herself violently, rubs her knees, kneads the flesh of her rolling belly and breasts, pounds and pats her inner thighs, and points to her crotch (where most of the trouble, joy and misunderstanding begins). She moans, sings, sometimes laughs, and curses. She speaks of being a mother, the 26 hours of labor, of pain, of her son being a river coming out of her body. At times, she seems unable to contain the frustration at her mutations: What was once familiar is foreign. In other moments she appears studious, interested in the shifts. “Have you ever felt in-between?” she asks.

Such personal material could read as self-indulgent in less competent hands, but Lenzu’s expert performance, directed by long-time collaborator, Daniel Pettrow, rivets us. Her story hits on our universal challenge: facing (and dealing with) life’s transitions.

Truth has many facets. Illuminating video projections on the wall behind Lenzu reveal different perspectives of the artist as she works. One provides close-ups, magnifying details — a hand, a foot, Lenzu’s facial expression. The other gives us a “God-view,” observing Lenzu from overhead.

She looks so tiny from above, an exquisite creature. Her concerns and agonies — the pleasures, odd realizations, questions, and messy pains of life thus far — appear as color and shape. We see a woman — her body, her life — as an ever-evolving work of art.

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