Saturday, January 30, 2016

Join me at Dance on Camera !




Two of my short films are official selections in the rich roster of screenings during the 44th Edition of the Dance on Camera Festival co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. You've read about them here as they are created and edited, and later as they travel around the globe. This is your big chance to see them on the big screen!

Tuesday, February 16th at 3:30

Plow Plant Reap (Trailer above)
Against a majestic landscape of rolling farmlands, an all-female community comes together to join in a baptism and a roundelay. With hints of Appalachian Spring and Amish customs, the piece is performed by members of the Slippery Rock University dance department.  13m Tickets

Screening with:
After the Curtain
In Emelie Mahdavian’s After the Curtain, four female dancers battle shifting cultural norms and face increasing disfavor in the Post-Soviet, predominantly Muslim nation of Tajikistan. 

70m Russian, Tajik, and Shugni in English subtitles
Saturday, February 13, 8:00pm
Shorts Program I 
This program includes my Honeymoon, a hot 6 minutes directed by yours truly, with Carlos Gonzalez and Tina Vasquez, and cinematography by Charles Caster-Dudzick. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

Something Old, Something New

Mid-December, almost two months since you've heard from me, and the weather still isn't wintry yet! I've been busy making new work, even shooting a little with my fancy new iPhone. Older work is screening both near - Plow Plant Reap in Miami - and far - 890 Broadway in Malaysia. 

But before I wax on about old and new work, I'm excited to report a chance to see two of my dance films at Lincoln Center.  Both Honeymoon and Plow Plant Reap will screen at  Dance on Camera February 12-16 co-presented by Dance Films Association & the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Why dance? Why watch dance? Starting with the effervescent music of a big band and juxtaposing that with a comic mis-reading of ballet, Adagio takes an intimate look at the mysterious joy of movement.

I wrote this synopsis to highlight a sequence of intentional non-sequiturs which appear in this month's Archive. Meet the dynamic duo of Arthur Aviles and Chisa Hidaka in Adagio & Danseuse Live at the Cotton Club. The voice you'll hear in the middle section is Lilian Bostert who first regaled me with this monologue after a particularly perplexing dance concert we'd both undergone. A few years later, I made sure to record Lil performing it.  I didn't know then how it might be useful; I just knew it made me laugh.  More time passed and the humor seemed a good way to help explore what I do and don't love about dancing. 

At the rare live dance concerts I attend lately, I often find myself nearly as mystified as the interlocutor in Adagio. Sometimes I'm wholly absorbed by the mystery as in a recent show by Palissimo. Other times I feel lost in an insular world where I'm not welcome. Or I'm enraged by the fact that what's being presented is a world too shallow and conventional to be worth my time.

I admit to being a harsh critic - as hard on my own work as I am on others. But apparently I can't stop making what I make - and how I make it. Right now I'm swimming in the deep end, shooting and editing a longer dance film that will continue to evolve through the spring of 2016.  Critical friends suggest more narrative, fewer characters. Of course they're right. Except that I'm trying to make something that's true to me and that isn't necessarily plot-driven.  If people are mystified, does that mean I've created too insular a world, that others aren't welcome, that it's shallow and conventional? And yet if I don't trust myself, I'm lost.

As 2015 comes to a close, here's an end of year salute to all of the people who are participating on this project. Their trust in me grounds me enough to dare more.

Arthur Aviles
Esme Boyce
Charles Caster-Dudzick
Andy Chapman
Jim Desmond
Paul Galando
Ben Harley
Max Kumangai
Aislinn MacMaster
Alethea Pace
Cari Ann Shim Sham
Kate Steinberg
Aileen Passloff
Robert Sorrentino
Deborah Tacon
Maya Tacon
Kal Toth
Tina Vasquez
Blakeley White-McGuire
Amos Wolff
Daniel Wolff
Lorenzo Wolff

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Projects & projections

My films continue to be selected in various festivals all over, and I find I'm a bit ... confused.  Part of the draw in making screen work was not having to physically tour a company to new venues. But these days I miss the connection to a live audience.  And yet: why I would travel to a film festival? My husband says "you're going all that way for a 10-minute film?" On the other hand, since they're all pretty short if that was my rationale I wouldn't go anywhere.

After the screening of Plow Plant Reap at Movies by Movers, we all received a thoughtful wrap-up from the director, Cara Hagan:
At our new home of Appalachian State University, the festival was heartily received by students, faculty and members of the community. I am excited to report that there were many newcomers to dance film in our audiences and they were surprised and blown away by the work screened in the festival. There were opportunities for engaged discussion in between screenings and I was happy to hear not only general positive feedback, but lots of questions surrounding the work and a desire from many to know about the art form.
OK, got it: even if I'm not there to witness it, we're building new audiences for a certain kind of work.  Which kind of work is that exactly? Film with dance in it?


In a series dedicated to Dance on Film, 2 of my shorts have been programmed to show on an elegant screen at the Jacob Burns Film Center, and I'm thrilled. The JBFC series includes feature films and documentaries on HipHop, Flamenco and Fred Astaire. Over the course of the week-long series, the rather sophisticated audience will, I presume, experience a range of styles and points of view. Hell, even just these 2 pieces of mine could be said to express different points of view. 

890 Broadway - Info
We are already dancing - Info

Jacob Burns is just across the river from me so it's easy to be there in person. How much of the series should I attend in order to eavesdrop on conversations between filmgoers?

Also local but not dance-focused, is the YoFi Film Fest in Yonkers, New York which has selected Honeymoon. And yet some of my old standby dance film festivals like InShadow don't seem to be falling for HoneymoonAre even the dance films I make not really dance films? Lil' ol' Texas Plates is screening in the Bastrop Film & Music Festival not because of the dancing in it, but because of the excellent music by Patti Scialfa - well, and because it's called Texas Plates.


Then there's Roxie, which is suddenly feeling love from all over - last weekend at the Sunrise Film Festival in Nova Scotia, and in early November at the Virginia Film Festival. These are not dance-related festivals at all; in fact, I wonder if the little bit of dancing in Roxie just confuses programmers.  Roxie was also selected by a very cool series in Paris called Ethnografilm.  You can be sure I'll attend - even though it's only 8 minutes long, hubby! - because I'm curious to see the other "ethnographic" work being shown; because it's an excuse to visit a friend -  oh, right, and because I love Paris in the springtime...cue music.

Maybe you can help me in my confusion. Attend one of the above and give me a report - on the work, the audience, why we attend these events, how it does or doesn't matter if we call it dancing, if I'm in attendance, etc.

And/or enjoy the below which is an abbreviated version of a live performance made about 4 years ago. Choreography for live performance is on my mind because I'm launching into the unknown. Instead of sticking around to attend Honeymoon in Yonkers, I'll be in Provincetown. On October 19th I meet a few strangers and start making a "community dance" which we perform 4 days later.  

Expect a full report in my November post. Also brewing are two projects I devised while laid up post-surgery. In the quiet of time off in Cape Cod, I expect to start playing with footage for a new long-term - and longer! - dance film ... which doesn't actually have much dance in it.  Say good night, Gracie.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Here for your viewing pleasure is the last of a recent series of posts featuring work made outdoors in the summer. Summers have usually been a rich and productive time for me, since my favorite way to show live work has always been in the outdoors, for free. Around 2005, once I started making dance films, I typically try to also re-envision live productions for film - especially if they're located somewhere special. 

This video was shot in 2008 during live performances at Garnerville Arts Center in Rockland County near where I live.  Dancing in it, among others, are Mica Bernas, Caitlin Roben and Chisa Hidaka, all of whom will be dancing in the upcoming dance film project shooting later this month. The evocative music is by Andy Teirstein and the mostly improvised camera work is by Jake Goldwasser. A discerning person who saw Cottonwood for the first time just now says it well: "it holds up pretty well against your more refined work."

Looking back at earlier work can be a healthy exercise when I'm moving into a new project. In some aspects, I guess I've grown as a filmmaker since these early forays. On the other hand, even in 2008 I wasn't a novice choreographer, having practiced for about 30 years !!!  Over those decades I've developed some chops as a maker, designer, storyteller, editor. By now I know what I want to make - and more importantly why I want to make it. Does it sound like I'm psyching myself up as I head into the first shoot since February? You betcha!

And since beginning something new is always a leap into the unknown, I take heart in sharing news of having previous work "accepted" in upcoming screenings of all over the world:

Plow Plant Reap in Belgium, ChileCyprus - and Illinois!
Honeymoon at Dance Media Japan and in Brazil.
and little old Roxie in Novia Scotia and Kentucky