Roulette is excited to present the premiere of Mother Sparrow, a film by Eryka Dellenbach with accompanying live music performance by composer Sonya Belaya’s ensemble Dacha with dance by Nola Sporn Smith and Dellenbach.
Belaya and Dellenbach, artists interested in examining female relationships in their work, began a collaboration to expand Mother Sparrow, a song written by Belaya describing the metaphysical reality of her mother’s disappearance five years ago. What emerged is a film directed by Dellenbach featuring an all-female cast of herself, K.J. Holmes, Nola Sporn Smith, with cinematography by Carmen Hilbert. The film’s choreography is sourced from Make the Brutal Tender, Dellenbach’s ongoing performance project exploring female conflict and sensuality. Set on the banks of Moodna Creek—a tributary of the Hudson River designated by the Daughters of the American Revolution—the film delves into chosen family, prophecy and hallucination, agency and observance and cycles of haunting and return. This event marks the premiere screening of the film with live performance.
Mother Sparrow a film
Sonya Belaya: music composer
Eryka Dellenbach: director
K.J. Holmes: mother
Carmen Hilbert: cinematography
Eryka Dellenbach & Nola Sporn Smith: Past & Present
Mother Sparrow by Sonya Belaya
Recorded by Sly Pup Productions
Production by Dylan Greene
Mixed and Mastered by Chris Botta
Sonya Belaya’s Dacha ( a word meaning “summer cottage” in Russian) is a large ensemble that flows freely through influences of creative music, jazz, folk, and contemporary music. Dacha seeks to preserve and re-contextualize the ancestral memories of Russian folk traditions. The ensemble consists of musicians with diverse musical backgrounds, but uses storytelling and improvisation as a governing principle to transcend these differences for deeper musical dialogue.
Sonya Belaya: piano, voice, and compositions
Nick Dunston: bass
Stephen Boegehold: drums
Dylan Greene: vibraphone/percussion
Kalia Vandever: trombone
Davy Lazar: trumpet
Ledah Finck: violin
Christopher Hoffman: cello
Eryka Dellenbach’s ongoing interdisciplinary performance project Make the Brutal Tender embodies sensual, evocative choreographies of conflict, rivalry and the precarious achievement of intimacy between women. It is a dance with the limbic system and a ritual of consent that has its performers moving towards and against the question of what a woman’s body can do. Eryka Dellenbach and Nola Sporn Smith will perform a special transposition of Make the Brutal Tender prepared exclusively for their Roulette performance.
Eryka Dellenbach: choreographer/performer
Nola Sporn Smith: performer
Sonya Belaya is a Russian-American pianist, singer, composer, and improviser, who divides her time between Michigan and New York. Committed to multiplicity, she is a diverse music-maker invested in vulnerable art and the development of strong, personal collaborations. Her work centers on the integration of women’s trauma as musical narrative, with a focus on storytelling as a symbol of powerful vulnerability. Sonya has performed as a pianist and singer with members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, New Music Detroit, Wild Up, Michigan Opera Theatre, Russian Renaissance, and Bang on a Can All-Stars. Sonya has been a participant in many notable music festivals, including Bang on Can Summer Festival and International Workshop for Jazz & Creative Music at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. Currently, Sonya works as a musician at Mark Morris Dance Center, Martha Graham Dance Company, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She is also working with storyteller and producer Patricia Wheeler (The Moth RadioHour, Moth StorySlam) to develop a storytelling and music series entitled “Songs & Stories”, which partners Detroit storytellers with musicians and composers based on curated themes to create fluid, seamless narrative in a collaborative process.
Eryka Dellenbach is an artist based in Brooklyn with Chicago roots. She is motivated by the palpability of corporeal and psychological thresholds, which she perceives as being malleable locations of consciousness. Eryka creates sensual film and performance works with a strong focus on sound design that explore consent, female conflict, power, and love. Dellenbach earned a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, focusing on cross-cultural, psychoanalytic-anthropology and was introduced to the moving image by Deborah Stratman via 16mm film. She was left disillusioned with her major and went on to earn a master’s in Film from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has worked with and performed in the works of an eclectic variety of dance/performance artists including Atsushi Takenouchi, Tino Sehgal, Blair Thomas Puppet Theatre, Éva Mag and Tori Wränes. Eryka has presented her work at the Green River Cemetery, Movement Research at the Judson Memorial Church, Cucalorus Festival, Virginia Commonwealth University, Intuit Outsider Art Museum, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Mana Contemporary, False Flag, Links Hall, No Nation Gallery, the Shiryaevo Bienalle of Contemporary Art in Russia and elsewhere. She works as a freelance filmmaker, performer, contracted laborer and an instructor of celluloid filmmaking at MONO NO AWARE in Brooklyn.