The genre of films exploring the intersection of dance and the camera has long been appreciated and cultivated, if somewhat of a niche art form. Beyond the earliest classic and iconic Hollywood song and dance features, screen dance made some of its initial strides with the experimental films of Maya Deren (1917-1961), who was also a choreographer, dancer, photographer, film theorist and more.
In recent years, because of the media in all its manifestations – films, videos, commercials, and the web – both commercial and independently driven dance on film has appreciated a kind of renaissance. The popularity of mainstream television shows in which dance is featured has elevated viewers to arm chair judge status, and certainly helped to expand their understanding of what dance can both be and include. And the prominence of dance media in all its incarnations is increasingly blurring the boundaries not only of the various forms of dance, but of what is considered commercial versus what is considered “art”.
Enter Dance Camera West Film Festival. Since its formation in 2002, Dance Camera West has become a premiere destination for the presentation of films with nearly every genre of dance from all over the world. With a strong curatorial eye and the vision to connect the film and dance worlds as well as the various cultures, ethnicities, and communities of Los Angeles, Dance Camera West has continually pushed the boundaries of dance media as an art form. I was fortunate to cut my dance media teeth serving for many years both on the board and as Director of Artistic Development, and have seen this organization grow. Since last year, Dance Camera West has expanded its programming to include live dance performances, which serve both as a reinforcement of dance as an art form and an underscoring of its power to be transformed when intersected with the camera and the medium of film.
This year, Dance Camera West will present its 13th Annual Dance Media Festival, “Restructure” June 6th, 7th, 8th and 13th at The Music Center, Grand Park, REDCAT, MOCA, and Union Station. Some personal favorites that I know of from among its many highlights include Drop the Game (which was a ScreenDance Diaries feature this January) and Mitchell Rose’s wonderful film Globe Trot, an international crowd-sourced dance-film project, created remotely by 54 filmmakers on all seven continents with choreography by Bebe Miller. Mitchell will be on hand to both screen and talk about the filmmaking process on June 7th at MOCA. Other notable presentations this year include performances by BODYTRAFFIC and a YouTube choreographers and directors discussion in collaboration with DANCEAMATIC.
A schedule and tickets can be found at www.dancecamerawest.org and you can view a trailer of samplings from last year’s festival below.
Go and enjoy!