Before introducing my latest videodance venture starting in the new year, I feel the impulse to reflect on 2007 and share some of the experiences that have led me here to the brink of a new jumping off place.
Last January I was the festival coordinator of the 2007 Dance on Camera Festival. I spent several intense months from Sept-Dec 2006 soliciting and receiving entries, coordinating prescreenings, watching almost 200 submissions, and practically living at the Walter Reade Theatre during the first two weeks of 2007. It was a very rewarding experience, but I found that that very few dancers from my community, the New York modern dance community, came out to see the amazing work we were showing. There were many reasons for this, one being that the timing of the festival is right after the holidays, and it always bumps right up on APAP, the biggest gig-getting event of the year in New York. It’s hard to compete with a dancer’s chance to drum up some income, but I felt that more could be done to bring awareness to dancers of the power of dance for the camera.
In an attempt to address this, I curated a special program of videodance shorts by American artists at Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I did this because the work of local and US based artists is generally under-represented in the Dance On Camera Festival outside of the documentary category, and I wanted to attract local audiences by showing work by people they knew. The strategy worked. We had more people than we could squeeze in standing, and we even had to turn some away at the door! This showed me that the community was interested and hungry to see dance for the camera, we just needed to involve them more.
In the spring, Zach Morris (of the Dance Film Lab) and I decided we wanted to build upon the momentum of the Galapagos showing and start a bimonthly dance film screening series. We had huge ideas for programming from showing the greatest videodances we knew of, to programs that showed the entire history of dance film. In May 2006 we produced “Wicked Cool Dance Films” featuring all our favorite films and had a rousing discussion with the audience and filmmakers after the screening. We seemed to be off to a good start. The only problem was that we had no money or time. Galapagos was cheap but it wasn’t free, and Zach had too much on his plate to continue. I wanted to keep it going, but I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own.
Fast forward to this fall. I started blogging on Great Dance which seemed like the perfect way to spread the gospel of dance for the camera without needing much to get it going. So far Move the Frame blog has been an incredible experience and has opened up many new networks and distribution opportunities for me and my mission. I’ve made oodles of friends from all over and love the interactivity the blog platform allows. But despite the new connections, I still feel like I haven’t been able to address one of the issues closest to home: how to get the New York dance community turned on to videodance.
In October Zach forwarded me an email. It was from Caterina Bartha, the director of Collective:Unconscious a theatre and screening space in Tribeca. She was looking for a curator for a monthly dance film series they wanted to launch in 2008. She had been talking to Deirdre Towers at the Dance Films Association about doing a screening for the Dance On Camera Festival there, but she wanted to continue this as a regular event. Zach declined because his work had taken off in a big way, but he recommended me for the position. My gut reaction was “Yes! This is exactly what I’ve been wishing for.” They were offering free space, a projectionist, admin support, and a regular time slot to do whatever I wanted. But at the same time I was worried I couldn’t make the time commitment. I’d be in school part-time, working almost full-time, blogging, and trying to work on my own videodances. Still I felt like this was too good to pass up.
Then I got an idea. What if I took the web 2.0 approach, and made this a user-generated series? If I wanted to attract dancers from my community, maybe I should give them the reigns and let them bring in the work? What media is turning them on? How has it shown up in their performance work? If I could get dancers to think about these questions and share their own ideas perhaps they would see the value of integrating videodance into their dance practice. The idea of Kinetic Cinema was born.
Kinetic Cinema explores the intersection of dance and the moving image both on screen and stage. Each month I will invite a special guest from the dance community to share the films and videos that have inspired or moved them. These could be films that feature dance, are kinetic-based, or have been influential on their work in some way. The guest curators will come from a range of dance backgrounds as performers, choreographers, critics, and filmmakers. Upcoming guests include Brian McCormick, Jonah Bokaer, Levi Gonzalez, and Kriota Willberg, to name a few.
To kick off the series I’m taking a slightly different tack because it is being held in conjunction with the Dance Films Association’s 36th Annual Dance On Camera Festival. On January 7th, 2008 at 7:30pm, Kinetic Cinema will present a special program of seven international dance film shorts I have selected from among 200+ festival entries. These films and videos represent some of the freshest new visions by leading dance filmmakers today. The program includes “1, 2, 3, 4” a catchy music video by Feist with choreography by Noemi LaFrance (who will introduce her film), “PANORAMA ROMA” a rotating timelapse film shot over 24 hours in the center of Rome by Italian choreographer Anna de Manincor, and “NOT ABOUT IRAQ” a dance film that questions the relationship of words and experience, government rhetoric and reality by choreographer Victoria Marks with dancer Taisha Paggett. (click here for the full program)
On February 4th dance critic and founding board member of nicholas leichter dance, Brian McCormick, will present a program of videos and films that have been integral to his life with dance. Brian is particularly interesting because he comes from a background in video art which led him to dance. His first introduction to movement-based arts were through the experimental videos of Bill Viola, Mary Lucier with Elizabeth Streb, Shirley Clarke, and Joan Jonas. I’ve haven’t explored this type of work very much myself, and I’m looking forward to learning just as much from his program as the audience will.
Although the series hasn’t started yet, I already feel like it is fulfilling an important mission that began for me over a year ago with the Dance On Camera Festival. By galvanizing the local community and linking our efforts with the world community via the web and other forms of media, some large scale shifts can happen. The revolution will not be televised, but I will do my best to blog about it, and hopefully all the small actions by dancers and filmmakers happening around the world will link up and become a great wave of change sweeping the dance world into the 21st Century!
If you are in the New York area on the first Monday of the month, please come see what’s playing at Kinetic Cinema. Screenings will start at 7:30pm. $5 admission.
279 Church Street (just south of White Street)
New York, NY 10013
Kinetic Cinema is part of The Collective for Loving Cinema Series, a weekly themed-film series curated by Anna Brady Nuse, Stephen Kent Jussick, Matt Kohn and MM Serra and presented by Collective: Unconscious. Each week of the month has a specific theme: Week 1 – Kinetic Cinema (Dance on Film), Week 2 – Experimental Queer Film (MIX @ C:U), Week 3 – Speakeasy Cinema (a mystery film with post screening talk back with various film luminaries!) and Week 4 – Jewels and Gems (the best of the Filmmakers Co-Op) . The Collective for Loving Cinema Series is supported, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.