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A Cinematic Movement

Film is not a new medium. The nexus of dance and film is not particularly new either, but this week’s events at the NW Film Forum, several in collaboration with Velocity Dance Center, further crack open the rich potential for dance on screen. Locally, there seems to be both a resurgence and a deepening of the exploration of dance film, and these upcoming events display the fruits of these investigations. Starting the week off is Next Dance Cinema (December 9 and 10), a diverse two night line-up featuring local, national, and international dance film, followed by a week-long run of Dayna Hanson’s feature film Improvement Club (December 13-19). In a further localization of the event, the winners of On the Boards’ 15-Second Dance Film Contest will also be screened at Next Dance Cinema. Announced last night, the winners of the contest are Alyza Del Pan Monley in first place, Colleen McNeary in second, and Ethan Folk in third. (On the Boards recently posted the winning videos on their facebook page). These tiny gems were submitted via Instagram, and prove that 15 seconds is more than enough time to establish a creative masterpiece. So whether you’re a film buff or a dance junkie, each of these events has more than enough to entertain and intrigue.


Molly Sides_film still from Alternator by Rodrigo Valenzuela
Molly Sides in “Alternator” by Rodrigo Valenzuela and Molly Sides

Next Dance Cinema:

Co-sponsored by Velocity and kicking off Next Fest NW, the films in these two days of screenings run the gamut of subject matter and tone. There’s the surreal and imagistic with Si Nos Dejan, by New Yorker Celia Rowlson-Hall, the candid Parkinson’s Dreams About Me by Bellingham-based Pam Kuntz (both screening on December 9), and the understated but powerful Nightingale by Jacob Rosen and Kate Wallich (screening on December 10). With a unique line-up each night, the festival is packed with local luminaries—Matt Drews, Erica Badgeley, Alice Gosti, Molly Sides, and the famed Cherdonna Shinatra all grace the screen, and directors include Alia Swersky, Adam Sekuler, and members of The Pendleton House to name a few. Aside from the local focus, though, the festival provides a fantastic opportunity to see intriguing international artists. Films from as far afield as Scotland, Montreal, Italy, and Denmark, give us a peek at their creative ecologies—and gorgeous landscapes in some cases. The beauty of film is its specificity; directors choose exactly what images to focus on, providing a clarity and intimacy that can’t be found in live performance. While dance is almost conspicuously absent in several films and tightly choreographed in others, the resonance of moving images and the powerful stories they can convey, is felt in each of them. Next Dance Cinema runs December 9 and 10 at 7:00 PM at NW Film Forum. Tickets are available here.

Matt Drews_Film still from Nightingale by Jacob Rosen
Matt Drews in “Nightingale” by Jacob Rosen and Kate Wallich


Improvement Club:

A fanciful, poignant, and sometimes hilarious film, Dayna Hanson’s Improvement Club tells the story of a band of artists and their quest to put on a meaningful performance about the American Revolution. The film is loosely based on the experience of making Hanson’s live-stage work Gloria’s Cause (2010), and the cast, largely local artists, all play slightly exaggerated versions of themselves. Filled with a show-must-go-on spirit, Improvement Club is part mockumentary and part sincere exploration of an artist’s struggle. The film screens December 13-19 at 7:00 and 9:00 PM at NW Film Forum. See here for an in-depth SeattleDances interview with Hanson about the film. Tickets can be purchased on the NW Film Forum website.