It would have been the 9th year of the L.A. Dance Festival were it not for the pandemic that kept the dancers off the Luckman Fine Arts Complex stage. Instead of physical performances, the festival teamed up with Dance Camera West (DCW) on a virtual showcase, funded in part by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
From June 23 to June 30, "Dance for L.A.: Off the Stage and Onto the Screen" is available to stream for free to a dance-loving audience. This year's showcase offers six dance films from Dance Camera West and five new works from the L.A. Dance Festival.
While the actual shift to digital was relatively easy, says festival producer and director of BrockusRED, Deborah Brockus. Dance Camera West was already working on a an online platform for dance before the pandemic began. The challenge it turned out was filming the new works. "In production we had to deal issues in the cast and crew: family emergencies, wisdom teeth emergency surgery, COVID exposure, 14-day isolation, attendance at protests, curfew restrictions and hopelessness on our future as artists," said Brockus. But nevertheless the dancers triumphed.
Filming ensued in Brockus' studio and the number of people at the shoots were limited to one camera operator, one assistant and one dancer. The resulting five films from L.A. Dance Festival created by the choreographers were inevitably shaped by the creative restrictions of the times. Seven of the films will eventually be sent to Korea for the Seoul International Dance Festival in TANK this July.
On the other hand, Dance Camera West was ready to flip the switch to digital. Out of 350 films submitted, DCW chose six to showcase.
The featured films range from contemplative pieces ("Drift, Inner Landscape"), to those that hold a touch of bittersweet humor (“If I Sound Happy, That’s Your Mistake”) to outright joyful ("Refresh"). "What I hope people take away form watching these, is the vibrancy and talent of L.A. dance makers and the work that we are all doing to sustain and transform their ability to work during these unprecedented times," said Hargraves, "We are transforming from stage to screen like we do all things, with creativity!"
Stream the videos free until June 30 here.
Top Image: "Spirit, Framed" | Courtesy of L.A. Dance Festival