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Preview of Dance on Camera Festival 2006:
Spotlight on three shorts
by Yael Lubarr

Dance Films Association, now celebrating its 50th anniversary presents its 34th annual Dance on Camera Festival co-sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center
January 4-7, 10, 13-14, 2006 at the Walter Reade Theatre, Lincoln Center Plaza, 165 West 65th Street, NYC $10/$6 DFA and Film Society members except for special programs at $12
Sunday, January 8, 2006 7-10pm at the Galapagos Art Space, 70 N. 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, $5
Tuesday, January 10, 2006, 6pm at Donnell Media Center of The New York Public Library, 20 W. 53rd St, NYC (Free)

What is a dance film? Is it classified simply as a performance seen on Dance in America, or a documentary of a renowned dance company? Certainly not. DFA believes that a true dance film is one that fuses both aspects of film and dance together, creating a “synergy” of the two arts. The choreographer is not only inventing movement, but acts as an editor as well. It is not something that is merely filmed on a proscenium stage, but can be filmed in an alleyway or an open field, viewing the performer from every possible angle. Whether it tells a story or contains pure movement, it depends on the message the filmmaker wishes to portray. The following three short films, a narrative, a comedic tease, and a graphic achievement, are among 14 programs in the Dance on Camera Festival at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center.

Varo / Waiting (U.S. Premiere)
Kasza Gábor, Hungary, 2005; 8m

Varo, or Waiting, is a dark, stylized short film that takes place entirely in a train station. What first seems as merely an ordinary scene of several restless passengers, (among them a pregnant woman, a schoolgirl in pigtails, and a business man,) all sitting and waiting for their respective trains, immediately transforms into something quite different once two street musicians appear. Once they begin to play atonal, repetitive, yet lively music on their violin and trumpet, it is as if their music gives these strangers permission to begin to interact, and consequently fulfill their shared fantasy of dancing together in the middle of a train station. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like, when hearing music, to suddenly grab the complete stranger next to you in a crowd and start to dance? The cinematography is high quality and pleasing to watch, yet the performance could just as easily have been performed onstage, since there are no drastic edits or special effects in use. Scattered phrases in unison lead to contact improvisation among several unlikely couples: a teenage boy supporting the expectant mother’s legs and swelling belly; a man in a somewhat odd ruffled peach overcoat biting the arm of a young girl wearing heavy eye makeup, fishnets, and combat boots; and the ticket girl, blowing her whistle for order, who is suddenly swept up into the air by the business man, ending up on the floor in an unanticipated embrace. This organized chaos gives the viewer a sense of spontaneity, along with flashes of humor. Although the ending is vague- as to whether it is a dream or reality, the inventive dancing and quirky moments certainly won this viewer over.

Alt I Alt (All in All) (U.S. Premiere)
Torbjorn Skarild, Norway, 2005; 5m

All one sees in the short film Alt I Alt is a large swimming pool, several diving boards, and a single man jumping. These are all seemingly ordinary images, yet the film cleverly manipulates our view of them, making us see them in a unique way. It would be impossible to have the film’s same affect in a live performance, since the various angles and camera shots used enable the viewer to observe not only the bottom of the pool within the water, but a bird’s eye view of the man’s head and feet as he jumps, as well as the diving board from every possible perspective. The only “musical” accompaniment is the reverberation of the diving board as the jumper keeps an impressively steady rhythm, no matter how high he is in the air. As one watches him jump over and over, his eventual dive into the water is anticipated as the probable conclusion to the film. Yet even that does not occur; the filmmakers construct a surprise twist at the end, where a seemingly endless series of flips off the board do not land in the dark blue water as expected, but back up onto the highest diving board, where the performer calmly gives the viewers a polite bow before walking down the stairs.

Nascent (U.S. Premiere)
Gina Czarnecki, U.K./Australia, 2005; 10m

Nascent is a mysterious, evocative film that is initially incomprehensible. Is that smoke swirling lazily? What exactly are those stark white shapes fading in and out across the bare black background? Slowly, a semi-nude figure comes into view, rolling from right to left, yet it is not simply rolling. The director, Gina Czarnecki, freezes this figure periodically, leaving traces of it behind as it rolls. The effect is remarkable, hypnotic, as well as undeniably sensual. When the figures merge into one, forming a circle, it becomes a viewing experience that borders on hallucinogenic. This painstakingly detailed collaboration with choreographer Garry Stewart of the Australian Dance Theatre leaves the viewer oddly satisfied: the last glimpse of a woman slowly slipping off screen finally reveals her features, no matter how fleetingly.

For detailed information on the 16 programs in the three venues, please visit DFA’s website: http://www.dancefilmsassn.org

Yael Lubarr is a recent graduate from The University of Michigan and is currently a scholarship student in the Professional Training Program at the Merce Cunningham Studios. ylubarr@gmail.com


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