In the first few minutes of Gabri Christi's film Quarantined, you can't see dancer Kyle Abraham's sculptured torso or his rhythmic leaps or the fact he's wearing a long white skirt made of tulle. The camera, however, reveals glimpses of a jawline and a closely shaved head. It flickers to the doorframe of an abandoned house.
This is not a choreographed dance on film. It is dance for film, and one of the distinguishing factors is that the filmmaker's vision is as vital as the choreographer's.
"One of the things I love about dance on film is the level of detail you can get," explains dancer, choreographer and experimental filmmaker Marissa Alma Nick, who points out that the viewer decides where to focus his or her attention when watching a live performance on stage. "With the camera you have more control. You can go even deeper into the dance."
Nick is the curator of the first annual ScreenDance Miami, a series of dance film screenings, panel discussions, workshops and site-specific installations. Presented by Tigertail Productions, the events take place Thursday through Sunday, primarily in Wynwood's Inkub8 space.
New York-based filmmaker Christi is the festival's invited guest artist. She will present Another Building, a series of three films created in historical buildings of her native Curaçao. Christi, who is a seasoned choreographer and experienced creator of dance for film, represents only one aspect of the festival's selection: "I wanted to seek out work that had a balance between new people versus established filmmakers like Dara Friedman and Victoria Marks, who have an amazing background in the history of screen dance or dance for film."
Open submissions drew films from several established Miami-based choreographers such as Carla Forte, Carlota Pradera, Octavio Campos, and Pioneer Winter. "What's been really exciting is that I admired them as dancers and choreographers, but I didn't know they were working in film," says Nick. "It was really exciting to see that they are pushing themselves in this genre."
Nick has also opened up the festival to artists from other disciplines. Filmmaker Juan Carlos Zaldivar is not a dancer or choreographer, but his film Shift explores a woman's experience with movement. Visual and performance artist Antonia Wright will present Drinks on Me, a piece where she disrupts a space with paint and activity. "I wanted to include filmmakers who are not all chorographers," says Nick, "because that's what's happening in Miami. The community is fresh, up and coming, and very community oriented."
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Finally, the hope is to share the film-dance genre with the public and to encourage dancers and choreographers to reach across disciplines and pick up a camera. As Nick asserts and the films will soon reveal, "It is something entirely different than composing work for a live stage."
ScreenDance Miami opens with a screening of Gabri Christi's Another Building on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. Subsequent screenings, panels and workshops will take place at Ikub8 in Wynwood. For more info and ticket prices call 305-324-4337 or go to Tigertail.org.
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