Dance artist Caitlin Adams recently contacted me with a pre-release copy of an intriguing 22-minute film titled The Heaping Kind that her New York City-based company HEIDCO will screen January 28-30, 2021. Founded in 2018, Adams is the Artistic Director of HEIDCO which has currently performed throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.  A native of Los Angeles, Adams is an interdisciplinary artist, choreographer, performer who moved to New York after receiving a B.F.A in Dance Performance and Choreography from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). In Los Angeles, Adams’ work has been presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Highways Performance Space and Gallery, REDCAT, and Human Resources LA.  In New York, her works has been presented at several venues including the prestigious Gibney Dance NYC.

The Heaping Kind was directed by Adams and HEIDCO’s Co-Director and dance artist Tariq Mitri. Born in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E, Mitri was raised in Portland, OR. And also  earned a B.F.A at CalArts. In Los Angeles Mitri performed with WHYTEBERG, Rosanna Gamson/World Wide, Rebecca Lemme/Acts of Matter, Dance Aegis, and Pasadena Dance Theatre.

On the company’s website it reads: “HEIDCO is committed to a company ethos that encourages a constant flow of in-studio conversation, currently creating works in dialogue to build a cumulative portrait of collective action: a tangible manifestation of our mission for social equity and participation.” It also states that “our process houses activism, conversation, physical behaviors”.

The company’s film, The Heaping Kind, is more than a dance film. It is one that incorporates dance, visual storytelling, an original music, and multiple visual symbols that challenge viewers to question and interpret. It does not focus solely on the pandemic, however, but issues such as greed, gluttony and mindless wasting of resources that humans have practiced for centuries, and the resulting tensions that these have brought upon us. The symbols also investigate psychological and emotional elements of its characters. This film begs the viewer to participate and to think.

HEIDCO - Still from "The Heaping Kind" by Julia Bricnet

HEIDCO – Still from “The Heaping Kind” by Julia Bricnet

A young woman notices three out of the ordinary people walking into the basement of a New York brownstone. Curious, she follows them inside and we are taken on an abstract, intelligent journey that sometimes gets lost in its symbolism, but that begins to awaken behaviors that we recognize, but have managed to ignore. As Adams states on her website, “My work deals with the process of remembering, and how we identify and work with our memory.”

The Heaping Kind sparked my curiosity, so I emailed a few questions to Adams.

What was the genesis of The Heaping Kind?

The genesis of The Heaping Kind grew out of pure, unequivocal collaboration. Tariq (Mitri) was beginning to step into the role of co-director of HEIDCO – he was taking on an administrative and leadership role. We wanted to find a way of creating work on our own right now without an institution or grant to fund us,” Adams wrote.

Mitri traveled to the Pacific Northwest to visit family and when he and Adams reunited they began discussing ideas for new projects while driving across country.  “We initially wanted to create ourselves a residency, go out into the Hudson Valley for two weeks with our company and a camera, and dance amongst the wilderness for a bit,” Adams continued. “But with COVID, availability among the company, and resources, we created the idea of a “stay-at-home” residency. We began to talk endlessly about creating with our team amidst the challenges of the pandemic.”

Adams was busy at the time working independently with video, writing, sound and creating dance works, but together with Tariq they began fantasizing about a film. This led them to what Adams described as “super simple concepts: the internal nature of the body, the healing power of movement, and the beauty that can be found in any given moment if we choose to notice.”  Their discussions then focused on their own domestic spaces and everything that was transpiring behind closed-doors. Knowing that there were an unending number of individual lives and possibilities, they chose to focus on a single individual.

HEIDCO - Still from "The Heaping Kind" by Julia Bricnet

HEIDCO – Still from “The Heaping Kind” by Julia Bricnet

Like all artists and dance companies, HEIDCO had several performances cancelled and the company members were meeting weekly on Zoom to rehearse or simply stay in touch. Mitri and Adams had often discussed shooting a film and because the company was missing the act of working together , they decided that now was the time and began reaching out to their collaborators.

The actual physical creation process for this piece was rather short. We spent one weekend in rehearsal, pulling each artist into the studio to work on creating an array of things, both inside movement quality and performance essence. We spent three days on set in total. Post production ended up taking a couple months. In total, we spent about 4 months in process on this film,” Adams stated.

The company followed all the CDC guidelines, requiring everyone involved to be tested for Covid prior to and following filming. Hands, surfaces of the Brownstone were sanitized regularly and the airing out of the house was also a prevention. One other precaution that the company  took was to “pod” together for the weekend, reducing any chances of being infected by outsiders.

There are many symbols hidden throughout the 22 minute film, and I will leave it up to the viewer to interpret them. Some have to do with the root causes of the pandemic while others relate to the central character’s personae and traces of different periods of her life.

Archie (Kristyn Arch), the performer in the beginning, is the only one who sees the outside world. She guides us through the streets of NY and happens upon 3 people who are all ‘related.’ Once we are inside the home, we are viewing a version of reality away from the outside world. We are viewing internal experiences imbued and woven with symbolic, visual imagery that capture a few slices of the human condition,” Adams wrote.

HEIDCO - Still from "The Heaping Kind" by Julia Bricnet

HEIDCO – Still from “The Heaping Kind” by Julia Bricnet

The quality of filming shifts several times throughout the film giving an occasional vintage look. Why?

Our cinematographer and company photographer, Sheridan Telford has a Super8 (8mm) camera and she immediately proposed using it.  We spoke to her about our aesthetic intentions, and the painterly quality we envisioned,” Adams explained. Telford sensed Her and Mitri’s  wanting to keep an atmosphere of “poetry and still life” but the decision was made to go ahead. “The camera for the most cinematic of moments. The 8mm footage also enhances an awareness of time inside the film,” she added.

Regarding some of the symbols and the title itself, Adams wrote. “The word heaping suggests a spilling or overflowing. I think Archie’s character is rooted in “woman vs. nature,” as she deals with the physical remains, buries them, and ensures they are confined to their place of origin. Her character is honestly very symbolic and her final goal is to universalize the experience of insularity.”

HEIDCO - Kristyn Arch in "The Heaping Kind" - Still by Cinematographer, Sheridan Telford

HEIDCO – Kristyn Arch in “The Heaping Kind” – Still by Cinematographer, Sheridan Telford

As I do with every interviewer, I asked what would Adams like readers of LA Dance Chronicle to know about the film and your company that my questions have not addressed?

This project was remarkable to witness,” She wrote. “Every artist involved showed a hunger for collaboration; when we approached collaborators, I was overwhelmed by such openness and readiness. I think as artists, we have never been away from our communities to this extent. I don’t know my life without creation and I know most artists resonate with that sentiment, so it was such a gift and privilege to bring our team together. I was humbled by the pure power of art-making and the drive to create. HEIDCO is composed of such talented, multiplicitous individuals. Our goal is to exemplify our artists’ whole body of strengths. I speak a lot to shared leadership and resources, thus the vision of HEIDCO involves every voice, agency, and intention.”

The credits for The Heaping Kind include: Director and Choreographer: Caitlin Adams; Co-Director Tariq Mitri; Performers: Kristyn Arch, Maggie Beutner, Erin Bishop, and Tariq Mitri; Cinematographer: Sheridan Telford; Original Music: Chris Knollmeyer; Production Design and Artistic Direction: Caitlin Adams and Tariq Mitri; and Editor: Brian Agamie.

“We are hoping to partner with a platform for a public release. We are open to people emailing us to receive access to the film,” Adams said and added that any inquires in that regard should be directed to  They also hope to hold “pop-up virtual showings and anyone wanting to stay informed as to when and where can follow HEIDCO on Instagram.

To learn more about HEIDO, its company artists, collaborators and to purchase tickets for The Heaping Kind which runs January 28 – 30, 2021, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: HEIDCO – Still from The Heaping Kind by Julia Bricnet