Reach Out Ranch is setting for Equus Film Festival’s “Earth Poem”
You never know what a cup of coffee will lead to.
An idea to bring dancers together with horses in a shared landscape came to fruition with stunning videography and symbolism in filmmaker Gabriel Bienczycki’s, “Earth Poem” and “Without Words: A Meditation”.
Reach Out Ranch is home to the Mancarella / Twinney family; Vincent, Anna and three-year-old Joseph live with a menagerie of dogs and horses on 25 acres. A beautiful log cabin with a distant view of Pike’s Peak and a quaint little barn create a picture worthy of a postcard. Elizabeth Colorado is not too far from Denver and makes a good hub for Anna’s extensive travel schedule.
Anna is “Anna Twinney” of Reach Out to Horses fame. Known worldwide as an equine specialist, animal communicator and energy healer, Anna is more frequently conducting educational courses with her students at farms, stables, non-for-profits, and at events quite literally, all over the globe.
Early in 2015, Anna shared a cup a coffee with Artistic Director, of “The Equus Projects”, JoAnna Mendl Shaw. What resulted was an invitation for dancers to come to Anna’s home to meet her personal horses, Excalibur, a Spanish Mustang gelding, a beautiful palomino mare named Aria, and a stunning buckskin mare aptly named Honey (both bi-products of the Premarin PMU industry), as well as a yearling Appaloosa colt named Hermes (former feedlot foal rescue). Vin and Anna’s picturesque ranch, the willing horses and Anna’s vast knowledge of the language of Equus and her 20 years of experience in teaching people how to better communicate with horses made both the ranch and Anna a perfect match with the full scope of the project.
“We were so excited to welcome the dancers and to have our herd showcased so uniquely”, Anna explained. “Excalibur is truly an ambassador for Mustangs. We were thrilled that we might have the opportunity to share his story and the plight of the American mustangs as a direct result of this truly remarkable project.” Excalibur is a Spanish Mustang who once ran wild in Wyoming. He’s the epitome of a Mustang success story. Now Anna’s long time companion, X (as he’s more often called), has accompanied Anna to countless demonstrations and is the frequent star of her numerous educational DVDs centered around the subject of holistic horsemanship.
Earth Poem is a short film shot by LA based Filmmaker Gabriel Bienczycki and featuring The Equus Projects dancer, Tal Adler. The film witnesses human and equine in gentle dialogue. “The dancers harness physical listening to engage in kinetic interludes with their equine partners, their movement choices at times framing the animals, at times seeking shared curiosity. Dancers and filmmaker cast the animals as subjects not objects. In the end what we know is that the humans come away changed. The horses continue to graze,” said JoAnna Mendl Shaw of the experience.
Filmed on the ground and from the air with drones, the “Meditation” features three Equus Projects dancers, Tal Adler, Jenna Pollack and Audrey Stanley as well as JoAnna Mendl Shaw. The Equus dancers move as a human herd, then in partnership with the horse. The dancers move fluidly between shared choreographic material and improvised interludes. They use their training in natural horsemanship to make strategic decisions that gently shape or simply flow with the behavior of their equine partners.
Anna cleared her calendar in support of the project. In addition to training the dancers in the language of the horse, Anna focused them on her expertise, communication and connection, which allowed the dancers to truly experience the feel of the horse and dance with their equine partner. She highlighted the importance of capturing the whisper within the horse’s eye as well as understanding even the slightest of thought so to create true partnership. Anna noticed that, “the horses sought an alignment from humans of body, mind and spirit and the dancers moved effortlessly between the worlds of horses and humans. “The difference was immeasurable and remarkable – the horses reflected the dancers very being” Twinney shared.