Volume 74, Number 44 | March 09 - 15, 2005


Mary Seidman and Dancers
Merce Cunningham Studio
55 Bethune St.
Thurs. – Fri.,
Mar 10-11 at 9pm
Sat., Mar 12 at 8pm.

Company performs “Eden.” Adjanski is in center with back arched, Daniela Hoff, faces down and Val Loukiano in background.

Villager to perform at Cunningham Studio

Serbian born, recruited by Seidman and Dancers

By Doris Diether

Opening this weekend at the Merce Cunningham Studio will be Mary Seidman and Dancers. Dancing with the group will be Villager Snezana Adjanski. Since Snezana is rather shy, Mary Seidman came along for the interview. Snezana will be performing in an excerpt from a longer, evening-length work, “Who Will Roll Away the Stone?,” a 2003 work by Seidman, whose studio is on West 30th Street.

Snezana was born and raised in Serbia, a former republic of Yugoslavia, and her family still lives there. “I started dancing when I was very young, maybe four years old,” Adjanski volunteered. Her parents encouraged all the girls to study the arts. “My younger sister tried everything, from flute to ballet to basketball, and my older sister used to play the piano. I was brought up in ballet, but then I came here to study modern (dance). My first modern teacher back home, while I was studying ballet, introduced us to Graham and that’s what I know of modern.”

Snezana came here in 1995 to attend classes at the Alvin Ailey School. “It was a smooth transition because at Ailey we had ballet class five days a week, and then there were different types of modern two or three times a week. At Ailey, I continued dancing in the Graham style along with Horton but I was also teaching on Long Island. I found myself unhappy,” she said, “because I wasn’t as much fulfilled teaching instead of dancing, and I couldn’t do both because it was a full time job. So I went back to performing.” She spent a year with the Graham company, and then got into Nikolais, performing with the Ririe-Woodbury company from Utah.

Their Nikolais project started in 2003, remembering the 10th anniversary of Nikolais’ death. “We traveled the United States and Europe with this program,” Adjanski said. “That was very exciting. It just got extended this year, and we have some next year too.” Seidman also had a connection with Ririe-Woodbury. “I first started dancing because of them when I was 25,” Seidman said. “They came to the school where I was teaching and performed, and I decided then that I had to be a dancer.” They also brought Mary and Snezana together.

“When they played the Joyce last year,” Seidman said, “I went because I wanted to see Shirley (Ririe) and Joanne (Woodbury), and that was when I saw Snezana. Later I saw her at the ballet studio and asked her if she might be available to work with me.”

Snezana met her husband in 1996, on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend. He also comes from Serbia, and is a sound editor, editing sound for movies. Shortly after they met, they decided it was love and found an apartment on Greenwich Avenue near 10th Street. They both love the Village, taking long walks down to the river and around the area. During the summer they love to take their bikes and ride around.

The mention of bikes brought a comment from Mary. For this summer’s River to River Festival she is choreographing a dance on bicycle, starting at Canal St. and the West Side Highway and going down to the Battery and uptown on the East side to Chinatown, with six to ten stops along the way for a five minute dance segment. “Should be a really fun piece,” Seidman said, “called ‘Free Wheeling.’” Adjanski immediately chimed in, “Yes, we should be a part of it. My husband is a natural dancer. He loves it.”

Snezana was actually auditioned by Seidman in the place she is performing at Cunningham Studios. “Besides literal stones, ‘Who Will Roll Away the Stone?’ is about human connections and relationships,” she commented. “It has a lot to do with loss, not being able to love and accept each other. It’s hard to dance because you can give so much into it, and then you are emotionally exhausted. It has a few different sections, and it’s very well developed.” I’m very proud of that piece,” Seidman chimed in. “It was originally inspired by the loss we all felt after 9/11. Having lived in New England for several years, I used the image of the stone wall so a lot of it is about walls and stones and hardness, and feeling there are obstacles to human connection. What’s great about Snezana is that she always finds something new in the piece and really puts her feeling into the work. She really responds to what’s going on with her and the other dancers. She’s a great performer and technician. She’s got both artistry and the emotions.”

Another work on the program is the 2004 work, “Homage.” Snezana has performed in it in the past, but her schedule this year didn’t give her time to rehearse with the rest of the cast. She had performed it when the company did it at Jacob’s Pillow. Also on the program is “Tides,” choreographed in 2000, which tries to capture the passion and vastness of the ocean. Three new works complete the program. Probably the most unusual of the new works will be “Picture Perfect,” danced by guest artist Rebecca Rigert and her eight year old daughter, Kamala, who studies with Seidman at the Mark Morris center in Brooklyn. “It’s a charming piece about a mother and her daughter,” Seidman commented. “It has a lot of content in it, although it is quite lighthearted. The child will probably steal the show.”

“Songbird” is a trio, which will be accompanied by Caroline Doctorow, vocalist and guitarist plus Andy Tierstein and Sean Grissom. Seidman’s mother passed away fairly recently so she made this dance about death as a eulogy to her mother. The last new work is Mama,” a six-minute work for two women set to music by Edgar Meyer.

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