The Maiya Project
Conceived by Jenn Friedman
Directed and Choreographed by Renée Locher
Featuring: Jennifer Converse, Anna Vlasova and Katie Kilbourn
Produced in collaboration with Robyn Hussa Farrell
The Maiya Project
The Maiya Project, Co-Produced by Jenn Friedman and Mental Fitness, Inc., is a short dance and music film highlighting the internal eating disorder conflict. It is based on Jenn Friedman’s song, “Maiya,” – which is about the recovery of a personal friend, Maiya – as well as Jenn’s own recovery, and is brilliantly choreographed by Renée Locher.
The film follows three dancers through the woods – Maiya’s representation, the eating disorder voice, and the recovery voice – with Maiya herself making select appearances throughout in a variety of mediums. The three characters make their way through the woods via an excruciatingly choreographed contemporary movement struggle. We see Maiya’s progression from captivity inside the eating disorder voice toward the alignment with the recovery voice. We watch as her autonomy gradually and courageously takes hold.
As Maiya’s character evolves from containment to freedom, we are reminded of the power within ourselves to find our own personal freedom; we note a parallel between the very physical struggle on the screen and the often invisible struggle inside ourselves. While we equate the entanglement of the woods with our own confusion, chaos, and internment, we also equate the freedom and purity of nature with our own unbound potential.
Jenn Friedman is a musician (singer/songwriter/piano-player), author and eating disorder recovery advocate. Her book, Eating Disorders on the Wire: Music and Metaphor as Pathways to Recovery (H.T.F.K. Press), explores her eating disorder recovery through metaphor. Each chapter has a corresponding song on the album, “On the Wire” (Personal Bias Records). Jenn has lectured and performed at Monte Nido EDTNY, Insight Behavioral Health, New York State Psychiatric Institute, The Emily Program, SUNY Purchase, the Eating Disorder Coalition’s “Mothers and Others March Against Eating Disorders” on Capitol Hill, and the Philadelphia NEDA Walk. She graduated from SUNY Purchase with a BA in Liberal Arts and Music, The New School with a Certificate in Creative Arts Therapy, and Goldsmiths University of London with a Masters in Counseling. She is passionate about fostering hope, healing, and connection through speaking and performing. www.jennfriedman.com
Renée Locher is a dancer, choreographer, editor, actor, director, teacher and motivator. From a young age Renée has been captivated by creativity in many forms. Initially seeking fulfillment through dance, she then went on to experiment with acting. As a form of self-expression, the arts have helped her make her way through life with constant stimulation, formulation and execution of ideas. With a father who is a musician, Renée was exposed to many different types of music from before even being born. Renée is energized by music, sounds, and feelings that come from it. She incorporates her love and instinct towards musicality into the creation of any work, and constantly seeks possibility. Having created work for stage and film, she feels most alive and inspired when creating and would choose to live no other way than as an artist with constant curiosity and discovery.
Robyn Hussa Farrell
Robyn is an award winning New York City producer who created Transport Group theatre company, Founded Mental Fitness – a nonprofit agency building resilience in youth through evidence-based programs and co-Founded Sharpen – -a digital resiliency platform. She has been developing arts-focused projects that support mental wellness for over 25 years. More info at sharpenminds.com.
Credits: The Maiya Project
Executive Producers: Jenn Friedman
Senior Producer: Robyn Hussa Farrell
Director / Choreographer / Editor / Hair and Makeup Artist: Renée Locher
Concept Creator / Musician / Composer / Assistant to Director: Jenn Friedman
Videographer / Assistant to Editor: Javale Jean-Pierre
Dancer – Maiya: Jennifer Converse
Dancer – Healthy Voice: Anna Vlasova
Dancer – Eating Disordered Voice: Katie Kilbourn
Maiya Willett as Herself
Photographer: Ev Horrosh
Filmed at Wicker’s Creek, Dobb’s Ferry, NY
©2015 Jennifer Friedman. All rights reserved.
Vocals and Piano: Jenn Friedman
Drums: Patrick Roman
Cello: Anthony Fischer
Bass and other instruments: Wayne Becker
Recorded by Wayne Becker at Westwires Recording USA
Produced by Wayne Becker and Jenn Friedman
Released by Personal Bias Records