Film Society of Lincoln Center is proud to host the 40th edition of the Dance on Camera Festival, presented in partnership with Dance Films Association, which includes world premieres, in-person appearances, free events, a student film competition, and dozens of great films about dance!
This unique festival kicks off with the world premiere of Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance on Friday at 8:30pm. The film documents the Joffrey Ballet from its struggling beginning in 1956 through its rise to international prominence. It also provides a look at the inner workings of a renowned ballet theater, featuring founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, and dancers including Gary Chryst, Trinette Singleton, Helgi Tomasson and Kevin McKenzie. The film's premiere and second screening (Saturday at 1:30pm) will both feature appearances by current and former Joffrey Ballet dancers including Trinette Singleton, who appeared on the famous Time magazine cover of the ballet in 1968.
This year's Centerpiece film, Musical Chairs, comes from Desperately Seeking Susan director Susan Seidelman. It tells the romantic story of two New Yorkers from different backgrounds, Armando (EJ Bonilla) from the Bronx and Mia (Leah Pipes) of the Upper East Side, who bond over their love for ballroom dancing. When Mia is hospitalized after a tragic accident, Armando helps her dance again by encouraging her to train for competitive wheelchair ballroom dancing. Susan Seidelman will be in person for a Q&A after Saturday's 8:30pm screening.
On Friday and Sunday night, you can catch Dance Film Narratives, a selection of four shorts that tell dramatic stories through dance. These films range from an energetic dance-battle between two enemies (Coup de grâce) to an existential thriller chronicling a story of jealousy (Labyrinth Within). Other selections include stand-out documentaries such as Makarova: In a Class of Her Own, an exploration of the life of famed prima ballerina Natalia Makarova as she works with Irina Yakobsen; Never Stand Still, the remarkable story of the Jacob's Pillow dance center; and Wayne McGregor – Going Somewhere, about the ground-breaking and limit-testing contemporary modern dance pieces of The Royal Ballet's resident choreographer McGregor's. All these films include appearances by filmmakers and many will have dancers in person as well. Many of the films are also accompanied by dance shorts.
The festival closes with Check Your Body at the Door, which sheds light on House dance culture. The film features underground footage culminated over the past thirty years that stars major dancers of the genre, who helped bring attention to House music and consequently created a repertoire of dance moves that persist today.
Other highlights of the Dance on Camera Festival include Meet the Artist forums, Shorts Program and the Dance Film Association's Student Film Competition, all of which are free Amphitheater events. Forums include conversations with influential ballet industry professionals. This year's Shorts Program selections are experimental explorations of love, emancipation and fantasy. The first DFA Student Film Competition invited high school students from five boroughs to submit dance films that were one to five minutes long. These films were to highlight the tight relationship between dance and camera. Selected films for the competition will be screened free to the public on Sunday at noon. The winning student filmmaker’s work will be included in the closing night program alongside Check Your Body at the Door.
Accompanying Dance on Camera Festival is Herbert Migdoll's “Joffrey's Carousel: Celebrating 50 Years of Dance” photo exhibit at Walter Reade Theater's Furman Gallery. Migdoll, who is the official photographer of the Joffrey Ballet, photographed the dancers in costume at Chicago's Navy Pier's outdoor carousel, providing a glimpse of the ballet's extensive repertory. “30 Years of Eye on Dance” will also be shown at the Furman. Highlights from this program include influential dance figures like Alvin Ailey, Agnes de Mille, and Lloyd Newson being interviewed by producer, editor and the host Celia Ipiotis.
Dance on Camera runs from January 27 – 31 and comprises 14 fascinating programs. For more information, a full list of films, and tickets check out the series page.