Mission and History
Is the catalyst for the production, presentation, and preservation of dance on camera. We are dedicated to furthering the art of dance film by connecting artists and organizations, fostering new works for new audiences, and sharing essential resources.
Founded in 1951, Dance Films Association’s mission is to foster connections between the worlds of dance and film; to promote excellence in dance films; to support filmmakers working specifically with dance and help them develop and augment their skills; and to connect audiences with quality films focused on movement and dance, both new works and works from the historical canon.
Identifying and fostering the intersections of dance and film
The dynamism of dance and film make the two forms natural partners. We find and nurture connections where the two can most effectively work together to elevate both.
Validating and supporting the work of filmmakers working in the field of dance
Filmmakers whose work features movement and dance create films that are deserving of more attention. Supporting these artists to develop their skills and bringing their work to broader recognition serves to enhance both forms.
Connecting audiences to quality films focused on movement and dance
Both historically and at present, dance has been an integral part of the film canon. Creating opportunities to share these films with broader audiences through public programming and partnerships elevates the work and encourages filmmakers to continue making innovative work, especially at this time of rapidly evolving technology and cinematic tools.
DFA creates opportunities for filmmakers, choreographers, dancers, and those who work across disciplines to interact in order to strengthen existing connections and create an environment where new ones can flourish. We present quality dance films publicly through the Dance on Camera Festival, our website, and in intimate public forums throughout the year. We create educational opportunities where filmmakers can develop new skills and receive professional feedback on their works in process. We collaborate with strong partners to develop programming that highlights the full spectrum of movement in film.
Dance Films Association was founded by Susan Braun in 1956 and incorporated in 1959 as a clearinghouse for the distribution of films on dance, from experimental work to instructional films and documentaries. Modern dance pioneer Jose Limon was a charter members, as was Ted Shawn, founder of Jacob’s Pillow, and prima ballerina Alicia Markarova. A tireless advocate, Ms. Braun devoted her life to finding, showcasing and preserving dance films and videos until her death in 1995. With generous foresight, she left a Trust of $500,000 to continue DFA’s mission with Melvin Spain as Executor until the year 2016.
Today, DFA carries on Susan Braun’s spirit of creativity and collaboration in a time of extraordinary transformation. Initiated in 1971 to foster creativity and encourage collaborations between choreographers and film makers, DFA’s annual Dance On Camera Festival presents dance film premieres as well as retrospective programs. The Festival is a mecca for artists, curators and scholars as well as aficionados of dance who come from around the world to see new work and share ideas. The Film Society of Lincoln Center joined as Festival co-presenter in 1996. Two years later, the Dance On Camera Festival began to tour nationally and, in 2000, internationally, acquiring more than 114 touring partners to date.
As of 1998, DFA began offering Post-Production Grants and Fiscal Sponsorship. Alongside an archive film library of more than 500 dance film works, it maintains a database of distributors and dance film/videos. In 2007, DFA initiated the Susan Braun Award: The Young Choreographers Initiative to encourage young dance filmmakers and in 2011 started Capturing Motion NYC, an annual high school student film competition with workshops aimed at teaching the art of capturing dance on film. Selected by a jury, the high school student’s films are presented at the Dance on Camera Festival, and the winning film screens alongside one of the main features at Lincoln Center.
DFA has worked with Alexander Street Press to create the Dance in Video database, culminating in an expansive library of dance on film for students worldwide. DFA hosts a Kickstarter curated page for dance films seeking funding, and in July 2011, DFA was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund grant in the amount of $250,000 to produce, market and distribute 3D/HD films of New York City dance companies. The project is the touchstone project of DFA’s Dance Film Productions initiative. The overarching goal of the initiative is to create funded opportunities for mid-level and established choreographers to collaborate with filmmakers on high quality film projects using HD and 3D technology.