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IMPRESSIONS: The 40th Annual Dance On Camera Festival

IMPRESSIONS: The 40th Annual Dance On Camera Festival

Published on February 8, 2012

A Dance Enthusiast Goes to the (dancing) Movies -Five Bright Days in the Dark

IMPRESSIONS: The 40th Annual Dance On Camera Festival


Presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association

January 27th-31st 2012

Festival Curator: Deirdre Towers


Five Bright Days in the Dark

Cory Nakasue for The Dance Enthusiast


Labryinth Within by Pontus Lidburg

At the onset of any sort of festival, I brace myself. I breathe. I prepare, not unlike an athlete for a test of endurance.There are often hurdles to keeping the mind agile and the eyes fresh, such as sitting through work that doesn’t interest you regardless of its quality, or work that you deem qualitatively questionable. Presentation, pacing and curatorial clarity also figure in to the difficulty or ease of the course. Although I did not see every single film in the festival (which I heartily regret), I saw most of them, and it was a walk in the park.


The juried festival boasts 35 films that include feature-length documentaries, narrative shorts, and video art from emerging and veteran choreographers and filmmakers. The overall quality of the films was extremely high. This speaks to a growing trend of collaboration between choreographers and experienced filmmakers, which was not the norm 10 years ago, especially with younger artists. It is through these collaborations that the language of dance film is starting to find itself.


A First Position, Rebecca Housknecht (pictured center), film by Bess Kargman

In the “I love you I hate you” duet driven narrative films especially, such as Coup de Grace by Clara van Gool and prize winner Labyrinth Within by Pontus Lidburg, we can feel the push and pull between cinematic tradition and choreographic tradition, with some exciting glimpses of a new dance film tradition being born. We are also witness to a growing facility and in some cases genius (I have to cite Labyrinth again) in the second phase of choreography, editing. The cuts in this thriller are razor sharp, creating an extreme tension that is not present in the choreography.

The crown jewel, at least in terms of mainstream crossover appeal was the feature documentary, A First Position by Bess Kargman which follows six gifted ballet

Cari Shim Sham of Sri Susilowat in David Rousseve's Two Seconds of Laughter

students from disparate backgrounds as they prepare for the career making Youth America Grand Prix. There is just enough reality TV appeal to make this one sell-able, without pandering. It humanizes the often caricatured world of ballet With integrity and grace.

The festival belonged to the dance documentary, in particular, Wayne McGregor—Going Somewhere by Catherine Maximoff, Two Seconds of Laughter by David Rousseve, Seven Solos: A Documentary by Douglas Rosenberg, and Restaging Shelter by Bruce Berryhill & Martha Curtis. The documentary being a more mature (and well funded) art form is fertile ground to explore and delineate the world of dance. The narrative work could devolve into an ownership race between the choreographer, the director, or the editor, or flower into a hybrid born of perfect collaboration.

Wayne McGregor—Going Somewhere , Film by Catherine Maximoff, Courtesy of lensfilmsdupresent


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