Jo Andres, Innovative Choreographer and Filmmaker, Dies at 64 | Modern Society of USA

Jo Andres, Innovative Choreographer and Filmmaker, Dies at 64

Jo Andres, Innovative Choreographer and Filmmaker, Dies at 64

Jo Andres, a visual artist whose experimental choreography performed at clubs in downtown Manhattan and evocative short films were imbued with fantastical and dreamlike imagery, died on Jan. 6 at her home in Brooklyn. She was 64.

Her husband, the actor Steve Buscemi, said the cause was encapsulating peritoneal sclerosis, which is characterized by intestinal blockage. She had also been treated for ovarian cancer.

When Ms. Andres arrived in New York from Ohio in the early 1980s, she began to develop choreography that immersed the audience in a more sensually enriching experience than simply watching dancers, like herself, performing onstage.

“We had all studied modern dance and dance composition,” Lucy Sexton, who attended Ohio University with Ms. Andres and performed with her, said in a telephone interview. “But when we came to New York, we were performing in nightclubs and punk-rock clubs, so her dances wedded two traditions: modern dance and performance art.”

To achieve her goal, Ms. Andres used a multimedia strategy. She used slides (of stick figures, bones, skulls and abstract shapes she had drawn or painted) and film (on which she scratched lines that swirled around the performers in them) and then projected the images onto her dancers as they moved to music and manipulated wispy tulle.

Growing up in what she called a “dark and scary” emotional environment, Ms. Andres, to her parents’ dismay, painted her bedroom in shades of yellow and orange that reminded her of the sun, she told Jung Journal, a quarterly publication about culture and psychology, in 2012. Her parents began introducing her as their “creative child,” she said.

“I was embarrassed because I knew that wasn’t really a good thing,” she said. “My parents didn’t quite know what to do with my creativity, but it’s interesting that they allowed it.”

She began dancing in high school — which did not impress her parents, who she said believed dance was an exhibitionistic art that would expose her to “weirdos” — and sneaked away for private lessons, which she paid for through a job at a pharmacy.

She graduated from Ohio University, in Athens, with a bachelor’s degree in dance, and later earned a master’s in film there.

By the early 1990s, Ms. Andres had largely stopped working as a choreographer, although she directed a dance number in “The Impostors,” a 1998 film directed and starring Stanley Tucci; instead she turned to making short films.

One of them, “Black Kites” (1996), adapted portions of a diary written by the visual artist Izeta Gradevic while she was hiding from snipers and mortars in the basement of an abandoned theater during the siege of Sarajevo in 1992, early in the Bosnian war. Ms. Andres — who shot the film in her basement in Brooklyn with roles played by Mr. Buscemi and their son, Lucian — mixed surreal imagery with dramatic scenes to convey the terror and hope recorded by Ms. Gradevic.

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