This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

Creative Difference

A day before Halloween, and Anastasia Adani doesn’t have a costume. “We’re going trick-or-treating anyway. I don’t know how I haven’t been fired as a wife and a mother—I’m here all the time,” she says, gesturing to one of three cavernous studios, home to her creative agency, A Plus Creative. Ms. Adani is the visionary behind the short film Lost in a Dream, featuring principal dancer Svetlana Lunkina. The film, evoking the ethereal, fairy-tale romanticism of the ballet, was made in collaboration with the National Ballet of Canada, and Toronto-based fashion designer David Dixon.

Svetlana Lunkina, a still from “Lost in a Dream.” Image by A Plus Creative

subscribe to the latest in dance


“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

  • Weekly articles from the world of dance
  • Wide diversity of reviews, interviews, articles & more
  • Support for quality art journalism

Already a paid subscriber? Login

“I was a student at the Academy with Svetlana; we were in the same class,” Ms. Adani explains. Petite and striking, it’s easy to picture her on stage. “Svetlana was always exceptional; and she was so dedicated” she defers, noting that many dancers from her class went on to achieve high ranks within the Bolshoi Ballet. “The discipline was intense—nothing was ever good enough.” She graduated from the prestigious Moscow Choreographic Academy, but her dancing career evaporated, having operations to restore both her knees.

Anastasia Adani
Anastasia Adani. Image via A Plus Creative

Her father, a life-long painter, remains a primary source of inspiration. He asked her whether she might like to try something else other than ballet—a simple question, but a pinprick to the ballet bubble, providing the impetus to go to architecture school in Moscow. The transition wasn't entirely painless. The school was across the street from the Academy. “I couldn’t look at it; I couldn’t listen to classical music for a long time.” Shortly after her family immigrated to Canada, Ms. Adani found her way from architecture to art and design. “I was lucky to be able to skip ahead a few levels. I was hired as an art director right out of school.”

She ultimately landed a job with creative agency TC Transcontinental, in Toronto. She speaks generously of her colleagues; her own success is to be inferred, in her repose, in her magnanimity. After several successful years with the agency, something wasn’t right. “I was too comfortable,” she says, a faintly balletic sentiment: after all, to perform is to take a risk. To the disbelief of her colleagues, she resigned. She describes leaving the building, carrying her orchid, thinking ‘what have I done?’ when her colleagues stood in ovation, cheering and banging on the dividing glass wall. “It was like thunder,” she recalls, eyes shining.

Having leapt into oblivion, the future was uncertain. Then a client called. Determined to work with her despite her recent resignation, they astutely inquired whether she had a company registered. The name reflects her collaborative focus: “A is my initial, and the plus is for collaboration, so A Plus Creative.”

“I was a little bit bitter,” she recalls feeling at the conclusion of her ballet years, ”I thought, well that was a perfect waste of my youth!” She smiles, brushing her mane to one side. Dance has a clear legacy in her work, aesthetically rich, passionate and refined; the playful sense of timing just clinches it. Working with dancers, she has the advantage, too: “We speak the same language.” On set, she is able to offer the kind of feedback dancers usually seek in the mirror.

On fashion shoots, she likes to get the models moving. “Sometimes I’ll dance in front of them,” she says with a lighthearted shrug; or was that épaulement? We view a campaign taking denim to its stretchy extreme. The model freestyles in jet-black pointe shoes. “It comes from the heart, doesn’t it?” It seems like we’re talking about deeper truths. She travels in this direction once more, when I ask what she wants for the future: “for it all to make sense,” she answers.

Things already seem to be adding up. At two and a half years old, the agency is blossoming. Her bright and talented team can seemingly do the impossible: Lost in a Dream was filmed in just one day, and the result warranted an early release from the National Ballet of Canada. It’s not all work. “We have crazy dance-offs,” she laughs.

Penelope Ford


Penelope is the founding editor of Fjord Review, international magazine of dance and ballet. Penelope graduated from Law and Arts with majors in philosophy and languages from the University of Melbourne, Australia, before turning to the world of dance. She lives in Italy.

comments

Featured

A Golden Gift
REVIEWS | Karen Greenspan

A Golden Gift

As Belgian choreographer and dancer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker approached her sixtieth birthday in 2019, she decided to gift herself a solo to the music of one of her favorite partners—Johann Sebastian Bach.

Continue Reading
Acts of Defiance
REVIEWS | Victoria Looseleaf

Acts of Defiance

One would think that a dance inspired by the events of the January 6 insurrection—yes, a dance!—would not be the ideal stuff of theater, but the eight members of Laurie Sefton Creates (formerly Clairobscur Dance Company), succeeded in giving life to Sefton’s premiere “Herd. Person?”, while the dance, itself, was occasionally problematic.

Continue Reading
A Danced Legacy
REVIEWS | Cecilia Whalen

A Danced Legacy

A man stands on a dark box facing sideways. He gently shifts his weight from heels to toes, rocking forward and backward. His gaze remains front, but his body never lands anywhere. He is in constant motion: neither here nor there, caught somewhere in between. 

Continue Reading
Questions that Remain
REVIEWS | Phoebe Roberts

Questions that Remain

To begin her creative process, the legendary German choreographer Pina Bausch often asked her dancers questions. These questions—and further, the thoughts and deeper rumblings they provoked in the dancers—then formed the basis for many of her pieces. 

Continue Reading
Good Subscription Agency