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Adam Barruch in "Belladonna" Adam Barruch in "Belladonna"

Artist Feature: Adam Barruch

Adam Barruch began his career as a young actor, performing professionally on Broadway and in film and television, working with prominent figures such as Tony Bennett, Jerry Herman and Susan Stroman. He later received dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts. After three years, he graduated early and was accepted into the dance department at The Juilliard School. As a dancer he has performed the works of Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, Susan Marshall, Jose Limon, Daniele Dèsnoyers, and is currently a dancer with Sylvain Émard Danse in Montreal. As a choreographer, Adam’s work has been presented at Dance Theater Workshop, City Center, NYU/ Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, The Juilliard School, The Baryshnikov Arts Center, Ailey-Citigroup Theater, Jacob’s Pillow: Inside/Out, LaMaMa,The Cedar Lake Theater, The Harris Theater, The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, Bates Dance Festival and Theatre Usine C in Montreal. Adam Barruch was selected as a participant in the 2011 Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation New Directions Choreography Lab made possible by generous support from the Ford Foundation. Adam Barruch’s short-film collaboration with filmmaker Nel Shelby, Folie a Deux, was screened at the Dance On Camera Festival in Lincoln Center in 2012. In June 2013, Adam performed a full-length evening solo work, My Name is Barbra ADAM,at Joe’s Pub commissioned by DanceNOW NYC, and was a recipient of a Late Stage Production Stipend from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. In addition, he has also created works for companies such as Ailey II, River North Dance Chicago and BalletX, as well as for dance icons Margie Gillis and Miki Orihara. Adam was the recipient of a 2014 Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences, which recognizes institutions and individuals for distinguished accomplishments and exceptional talent in the arts and sciences. In September 2015, Adam Barruch Dance will be the company-in-residence at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, California as part of the 2015 DANCEworks Residency. He will be working on a new physical theater production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

I have a fascination with the human body, and the way it functions. I think that this is rooted in the fact that I believe we can learn so much about the life around us, by studying the way our bodies constantly strive for balance, efficiency and pleasure. I have always found drawings of the human anatomy beautiful, in the fact that they can be poetic and completely mechanical at the same time. There is a code and intelligence in their architecture that brings me solace. I think the sketches of the human anatomy in Leonardo DaVinci’s notebooks are some of the most beautiful ever created. I also have a fondness for anatomical illustrations from Medieval texts where knowledge of the human body is still primitive, many including celestial bodies with their physical counterparts. The subtle anatomy in many of the Eastern and mystical traditions of the world beautifully illustrate how the creative energy of universe interweaves with the physical. My favorite illustration is one called ‘Anatomiae Occulti.’ Other artists like Fritz Kahn, Alex Grey and Keith Haring have also struck a cord with me. Fritz Kahn with his industrialization of the human body, Keith Haring with his interwoven lines and sexual imagery, and Alex Grey with his incredible visionary works.

I think that what interests me in so many of these images, is the same thing that dance allows me to do. The melding of the body and spirit. There was a time when I lost interest in moving the body through space, and so I began drawing bodies on paper. It was an emotionally dense time in my life, and movement was no longer a safe mode of expression. Sketching became an incredibly potent and private way to express myself. I was interested in images that were corporeal in nature, but elusive and deeply psychological. As I began to hide my thoughts alongside the bodies, these amorphous and fluid images began to occur. It became interesting to me to see if people could decipher them. I think, in some way, that I was inspired by Rorschach testing in which a subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed. There were always sexual imagery, both masculine and feminine, in the drawings, but the images were never meant to be provocative. I still often learn a lot about a person by asking them what they see.

Over the years, the drawings have become less of an emotional release, and more of a meditation. Each drawing adds to the arsenal of images and textures that I use in every work, as well as the rules that govern them. There is never an overall plan, no outline for any work. The lines and shapes come immediately, and once they are down on paper, I seldom go back to change anything. The experience of creating these images is a lesson in balance and order: the small details are just as important as the whole collective image. No one thing is more or less important than the next, and each finished work is a collection of many negotiations and compromises.

This is part of our ongoing Artist Features series, showcasing artwork in various visual and design mediums, made by dancers. Check back often to discover the diverse expressions of the movers you love.

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Post by Kenna Tuski

Kenna Tuski, a Portland Maine native, graduated from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance with honors in the spring of 2013. Kenna was given the opportunity to study abroad at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan in her Junior year at Purchase. In 2013–2014 Kenna worked with pop singer Betty Who as her personal assistant and tour manager. Kenna danced with Nimbus Dance Works and was assistant coordinator of their 2013 Nutcracker Production. She has toured nationally and internationally with Shen Wei Dance Arts and in 2014 became a performer in Punch Drunk’s Sleep No More.

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