Below is the third installment of DFA’s first web-based, episodic delivery of its Dance on Camera Journal.
In a previous post, you’ll find the introduction to the Sept/Oct issue, and the first of four articles written especially for it. In the next, you’ll find the second installment. If you’d like to read the entire issue now, please become a member – or return to the site in a week or so, to continue reading the final episode in the coming weeks.
Curating with Courageby Michelle Ellsworth & Hamel Bloom
Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema is an out-of-the-mainstream film festival that presents dance films and live performance annually in Boulder Colorado, USA and also tours with select submissions. Three busy volunteers do most of the work: Michelle Ellsworth, a performance artist and Professor of Dance; Ana Baer, a multimedia artist and Professor of Dance; and Hamel Bloom, a technologist, wheelchair dancer, and film editor.
The Festival began in the Sans Souci Mobile Home Park, Michelle’s trailer in particular, and quickly migrated to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) courtesy of Ellsworth’s friend and curator, Brandi Mathis. BMoCA was our home for five of our seven years. The start was small and humble. In year one, Michelle and Brandi invited friends and students to show work. Once invited, if one showed up with a mini DV at BMoCA, the work was exhibited and the tape returned. Michelle and Brandi began curation in the second year.
In year three, Baer and Bloom joined the crew as Brandi headed out for NYC. Since then, Baer, Bloom, and Ellsworth have been the core curation team. Even though we’re all practitioners and two of us are professors, all of us still consider ourselves to be lifelong students of the new and evolving screendance art form. We are fans of screendance and of the artists who make the work. Our intention is to provide a forum for those artists and a venue where our audiences can grow to appreciate the form.
As the screendance medium gains popularity and our festival gains visibility, the number and quality of our submissions increase. Although we may need to soon, we deliberately have no set agenda. This allows a mix of creativity to flow into our funnel. As the number of submitters increases, so does the number of snacks needed for our curatorial process. And as we nibble, we ingest intellectually in form and in content.
We hold a very expansive definition of dance. This opens the festival to a wide variety of fare. We have a list of criteria for selecting works to screen. On our website we say:
We’re interested in work that integrates dance and cinematography. When choosing works, we consider production values, thoughtful forms and themes, investigative / innovative / experimental approaches, audience appeal, and how the piece will fit with or complement others we are considering. None of these criteria is a must; none are more important than the others; excellence in any one or two areas may be sufficient for acceptance. Shorts are preferred. We are not interested in work that objectifies the female body or in simple recordings of dance on a proscenium stage – cinematic elements must be an integral part of the entry.
But in the end, what we admire most is artistic innovation and courage. If a piece is moving or compelling, if it tells some truth about the human or political condition, that may become more important than high production values or the moving image.
We find it compelling when an artist takes risks – whether we like the aesthetic or not. There is something inspiring about the fearlessness of an artist to go deep and reveal herself. It may be that some of the works we choose are artifacts of an artistic process, evidence of a commitment, rather than fully polished finished works. So be it. Sometimes we put things in just for their chutzpah – just because they dare to be.
Our curation process is a kind of intensive, yet intuitive and worry-free, snack-based undertaking, held together with an array of web-based custom- made administrative tools created by Hamel. With these tools, we can be confident that our thoughts are being captured as we curate. It supports the conversation that we can each assign a numeric score and record a comment in a shared and structured interactive document. But those scores are not even factors in our decision, just crumbs dropped to help us find our way.
Once works are selected, Ana or Michelle will program the event. We find a tension between ordering works in such a way as to aid the audience’s understanding of the new medium and the aleatoric juxtapositional pleasures of the coincidental. We walk the line.
DFA Dance on Camera Workshop at the 92nd Street Y
DFA puts dance in front of the lens with a workshop led by Richard Move. Create and capture visual stories with dance and video. Examine how the filmmaker’s intention guides all decisions regarding the choreography of the camera, balance of foreground and background and composition.
Single session $75. Mention that you are a DFA member to receive a
10% discount. Registration is required. To register, visit http://www.92y.org.
Sun, Dec 19, 2010,
Richard Move is Artistic Director of MoveOpolis! which has been presented by Dance Theater Workshop (DTW), Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, Sitelines/River to River Festival, and other international venues. Move’s The Show (Achilles Heels), originally commissioned, created and performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and the White Oak Dance Project. His films include BARDO, which received the 2009 Jury Prize nomination at the Dance on Camera Festival, BloodWork-The Ana Mendieta Story, recipient of the 2009 National Board of Review Award at the Director’s Guild of America, and the feature GHOSTLIGHT, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. He also choreographed the cult film STRANGERS WITH CANDY, starring Amy Sedaris, Mathew Broderick and Stephen Colbert. Move is a TEDGlobal 2010 Oxford Fellow.