Due to last year’s sell-out success of the Dance On Camera Festival, the 28th annual Dance On Camera Festival co-produced by Dance Films Association (DFA) and the Film Society of Lincoln Center has tripled in size. The festival features six programs over two weekends January 14th & 15th and January 21st & 22nd (Friday afternoon and evenings – Saturday afternoons). Thirty titles from France, Canada, England, Italy, Russia, Holland, Switzerland, and Sweden will be presented, introduced whenever possible by the artists themselves. Besides the selections drawn from the 165 entries from 19 countries to the Dance On Camera Festival, all completed in the last two years and never shown before in New York, this year’s festival offers a few dance film treasures.
Opening the festival on Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. will be the French classic feature film La Mort du Cygne (90 min.) produced in 1937, directed by Jean Benoit-Levy starring Mia Slavenska which is as touching as The Red Shoes, but even more contemporary given its focus on competition and revenge. La Mort du Cygne will shown again on Friday afternoon the 21st. Coming back by popular demand will be Cinematheque de la Danse’s inspiring compilation of footage of the legendary flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya, which along with two French shorts: Philippe Decoufle’s amusing sign language duet Le P’tit Bal (4 min.) and Christophe Bargues’ swirling Solstice (11 min.) completes Friday the14th’s afternoon program.
The Friday evening program on January 14th will be “A Salute to Canada” led by a polished documentary (57 min.) produced by Canadian Broadcasting Company, written and produced by Veronica Tennant, directed by Joan Tosoni called Margie Gillis: Wild Hearts In Strange Times. This creative camera exploration of the iridescent solo performer often compared to Isadora Duncan includes a collaboration with the great opera singer Jessye Norman. Dances for a Small Screen (24 min.) a trilogy of shorts: The Barber’s Coffee Break choreographed and performed by Tedd Senmon Robinson directed by Laura Taler; The Golden City choreographed and performed by Jose Navas and directed by Moze Mossanen, and Motel choreographed by performed by Noam Gagnon and Dana Gingras, directed by Nick de Pencier, produced by Mark Hammond and Laura Taler produced in association with Bravo FACT. Next will be Herr, a mocking look at male bonding by Genie-award winning director John Greyson, choreographed by Joe Laughlin, commissioned by the prolific Canadian producer of dance shorts, Bravo FACT. Completing the Canadian program will be director Eileen Thalenberg’s splendid story, Can’t Stop Now on the Nederlands Dance Theater III which follows Karen Kain as she leaves her native Canada to join the company.
January 15th, Saturday 2:00 p.m. program opens with an entertaining tribute to a great tap whiz Jeni Legon – Living Life to the Full (50 min.) directed by Grant Greschuk, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, which includes interviews and/or clips with her peers; the Nicholas Brothers, Josephine Baker and Cab Calloway. Next is Dikayl’s short A Sun Dance (6 min.) an ode to light and mirage shot on the salt plains of Utah. Performed by Ali Fischer. Dust (9 min.) an idea conceived by Miriam King, directed by Anthony Atanasio, is a haunting black and white movement poem from England inspired by a swimmer’s dream. Three (17 min.) a trio choreographed by American modern dancers Ralph Lemon and Bebe Miller is directed in a mode suggestive yet independent of film noir by Issac Julien. Mother and Child (9 min) is a deceptively simple Butoh-inspired solo directed by Jeff Bush and choreographed by Maureen Fleming, USA. Attraverso (14 min.) captures a form of claustrophobia veering between denial and panic as directed by Gino Sgreva, choreographed by Enzo Procopio, Italy. It Takes Time To See (14 min.) is a dead pan comic short co-directed by Marsha Tallerico and Deborah Fort on the reconstruction, rehearsal, performance and viewing of Trio A: The Mind is A Muscle, Part 1 choreographed by Yvonne Rainer in 1966. Four Ships (8 min.) is a choreographed pattern directed by Victoria Uris that evokes the ephemeral and multi-layered natures of life, USA. Finally, the sweet Polka Dream (6 min.) is directed with great cinematic style by a young American Carol Kyles Finley.
Following the repeat screening of La Mort du Cygne will be the BBC production directed by Ross MacGibbon – Call Me Madam, on Dame Ninette de Valois who founded a company in 1931 that grew into the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet. Completing the afternoon program on January 21st will be Dancing Inside (43 min.) a poetic view on aging directed by Tony Dowmunt as told by former Martha Graham dancer Jane Dudley who has been teaching in England for decades. Though crippled by arthritis so that physical movement is difficult, she continues to make dances. Where mobility stops, computer generated images are used to visualize her ideas.
Friday, January 21st, the festival will feature the Russian State Television’s film honoring the late Yuri Soloviev, I’m tired of living in my native land, a ballet dancer on the same lofty plateau as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, as well as the the Royal Box’s stunning programs on Galina Ulanova and the beautiful young Svetlana Zakharova who just performed in the US as part of the Kirov Ballet and the late Natalia Dudinskaya. Adolescence, directed by Vladimir Forgency in 1966 in Paris, is another dance film treasure, shown as a complement to this Russian evening as the film captures the relationship between a young ballerina and her teacher, a Russian emigre who was clearly a marvelous artist in her heyday.
Saturday afternoon January 22nd, 2 P.M. will begin with Philippe Decoufle’s wild scrapbook of visions entitled Abracadabra (France). Dutch television director Hans Hulscher is to be applauded for his nearly flawless capture of Bella Figura (31 min.) choreographed by Jiri Kylian. Jeffrey Tobin Rothlein’s beautiful short Song of the Body is a photographic study crossed with reflections on dancing in the age of AIDS.
During the week in between the two weekend screenings at Lincoln Center will be the events at Anthology Film Archives, Second Avenue and Second Street in New York City. On Tuesday January 18, at 7 P.M. Douglas Rosenberg, a professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison, will give a lecture Dance On Camera: A Critical Perspective. Following his talk with be screenings of Witnessed (Allan Kaeja, Canada), MG303 by Bridget Murnane (USA), Restoration (Cordelia Beresford, Australia), and Village Trilogy (Laura Taler, Canada).
Wednesday, January 19th will be devoted to the challenge of selling dance, the “art of the tease” using the examples set by Invisible Wings directed by Nuria Olive Belles produced by Jacobs Pillow and Blue Train: Making History Dance directed by John Spence, choreographed by Martha Bowers, along with A Hollow Place and A Merry Widow, two Canadian shorts produced by Bravo FACT. January 20th an evening of dance narratives conceived for the camera will feature Omnibus (Francisco Millan, Spain), Sasha Waltz’ Allee der Kosmonauten (Germany), and Sagan Om Dansaren (Ami Skanberg, Sweden). Douglas Rosenberg will also offer a two day workshop on making dances for the camera on Wednesday and Thursday January 19th & 20th.
A preview of the festival will be presented at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco on December 7 and 14, 1999. Excerpts of the festival will tour to San Diego in February, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point in late April and to the Wexner Center in Ohio (dates to be confirmed). Dance on Camera Festival is the oldest annual dance film/video festival in the world. Initiated to foster creativity and encourage fruitful collaborations between dancers and film makers, the Dance on Camera Festival is one of many activities sponsored by DFA, founded by the late Susan Braun in 1956 as a non-profit, member-supported organization. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, also a member-supported organization, maintains a prominent position within the international film network as a discerning, innovative exhibitor. The Film Society produces the annual New York Film Festival, a Gala Tribute to a distinguished film artist, co-produces New Directors/New Films with the Museum of Modern Art, and publishes the bi-monthly magazine Film Comment.