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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tiny Dance Film Festival Lets Artists Share Big Dreams

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Quake by Erin Malley
  • Quake by Erin Malley

April 24-25 brings the return of the third annual Tiny Dance Film Festival, a growing festival of short dance flicks curated by detour dance's Kat Cole and Eric Garcia. This year's program brings a healthy selection of local artistry into contact with filmmakers from regions remote as Helsinki, Amsterdam, Melbourne, and Israel, with a spirit that emphasizes the scrappy creativity of emerging artists, artists of color, and others short on resources but long on vision. Cole and Garcia discussed the development and aims of the Tiny Dance Film Festival with SF Weekly.

What inspired you to create the Tiny Dance Film Festival?

Garcia: We are filmmakers ourselves, so we wanted to create opportunities for people with similar interests and also start a grassroots approach to making dance films.

Cole: It was also out of curiosity. We made our first dance film [Drift, 2009] five years ago on our own in a silo, and we wanted to have a community. Putting on a film festival was a way for us to see what was out there and to make connections with others who were making work. The San Francisco Dance Film Festival has been a great platform, but we thought there could be room for a grassroots festival that supports emerging artists.

click to enlarge ME-Story of a Performance by Jopsu Ramu
  • ME-Story of a Performance by Jopsu Ramu

What opportunities do you think dance and film create for each other?

Garcia: In our curation, we stand strongly by people who use the camera as a major component to the choreography, not just to record or document. The camera is being used as a partner. We call it dancing with the camera versus for the camera. We don't think of one long chunk of choreography — we think in fragments and storyboards. Film also allows us to create a setting and context for the movement.

Cole: With the camera, you're really choreographing the audience's perspective, and film can be a way of bringing emotions or characters reactions to each other life than if you were in a more distant proscenium setting. The camera is another dancer, and dance has a different life on film.

Would you say that the camera redefines what dance is?

Cole: It's another tool in the toolbox. It's a framework that can enable a lot of people who haven't seen dance before to view it in a new way. I think it's like any other tool that you can use to reframe dance if you want.

Has film altered what you create for the stage?

Garcia: We have a cinematic approach, more theatrical than abstract contemporary dance. We're thinking of creating vignettes, how we can use light to highlight a nuanced, highly detailed solo, or part of someone's arm or hand.

Cole: Making dance film was our first entree into combining dance with a lot of character work and motivation. Storytelling on film has changed how we stage work — we talk to our dancers about motivation, character arcs, whereas previously we were thinking more through a contemporary dance lens, which is less about character and more about movement for movement's sake.

click to enlarge Knock by Thomas Pollard
  • Knock by Thomas Pollard

What really excites you about this year's festival?

Garcia: We had an insane amount of submissions this year, about 300 films from all over the country and the world, and a wide variety in terms of production level.

Cole: We have to acknowledge the breadth of work that is happening, the variety we can track over the past few years

Garcia: it has allowed us to curate not based on kinds of dance films or different genres of dance, but who we are going to represent onscreen. Who are the people who are submitting the films? We're excited to be presenting a lot of young artists, young artists of color, AXIS, a physically integrated dance company. We're not just curating based on the dance, and we're excited to have the opportunity to represent different demographics.

What are your hopes for next year's festival?

Garcia: We're constantly blown away by the number of people who submit films. We hope we continue to get a bunch of submissions from young, emerging artists. We love a good high production dance film but we secretly love the young artists who are making work on their crappy little cameras — because that's what we're doing.

Cole: Part of it is acknowledging how much of a barrier there can be in making dance films, in the same way that it can be a big barrier to think you need to rent a theater for two weeks to produce your work. We want the festival to be able to support and encourage people — even if you don't have the financial means to make a high production video, you can still create a film that can show your awesome idea, and there would still be a platform in which to share it. Lowering that barrier to entry is what we hope will continue. 

detour dance presents 2015 Tiny Dance Film Festival, Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, 8 p.m., at Ninth Street Independent Film Center, 145 9th St., S.F. Tickets $17-$25; $35 for festival pass.
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