Jeremy Jacob Explores the Choreography of Filmmaking

July 7, 2021

Filmmaker Jeremy Jacob has some advice: “Let people know if you want to collaborate.” Their own recent collaborations include “Dear Merce,” with Netta Yerushalmy, and “David,” with Pam Tanowitz for American Ballet Theatre, starring David Hallberg.

Jacob discovered dance as a student at Parsons School of Design, when the study of film and picture making led them to Labanotation. Today, Jacob is co-creator of the Dance And Stuff podcast and The Dance And Stuff Show alongside their partner Jack Ferver and Reid Bartelme, and also works as a production designer and director. Their latest film project is for Tanowitz’s new work for Bard SummerScape, premiering July 8.

Jacob recently spoke to Dance Magazine about capturing dance on film, and what they bring as an “outsider.”

On the possibilities of dance filmmaking:

There are endless questions to ask about dance on film. There are different styles in movies—documentary, fantasy, all these things—and for me this past year has been a pretty big gift in being able to explore some of those.”

“I want people to be more curious about the possibilities of basic filmmaking in relationship to dance on film. Because dance documentation is this whole other thing.”

“Something about actual choreography on film is metaphysical or extra. It’s super. Because anyone doing anything on film is a kind of choreography. It’s like, ‘Why is this person doing this?’ It’s something that I’m very interested in engaging with.”

is a whole other thing outside of shooting content. How can you make the footage more dynamic?”

On recent projects: 

“With ‘David,’ there are two spaces. The dancing is this other space and, in my mind, it was both that he’s watching himself dance and/or he’s imagining or remembering.”

“With the ‘Dear Merce’ project, I was drawn to this idea of Netta talking simultaneously to the viewer and to Merce Cunningham.We met once before we filmed. She had done a dance for her New York Public Library for the Performing Arts fellowship and I was like, ‘Do you just want to do it for me?’ I recorded it on my phone, took that and cut it up and made the shot list, editing together parts of the choreography to be shot in a certain way.”

“I directed Pam Tanowitz’s project for her New York Public Library fellowship remotely in this hilarious way, Zooming in or her sending a video and being like, ‘How’s this?’ It’s interesting in that all you need is a specific direction to stick to, like, ‘Am I hand-holding this thing? Is it moving? Is it on a tripod? How am I framing myself?’ ”

On not being a dancer:

“There is a certain strength that comes with me not knowing dance in a certain way. I’m not concerned with a lot of stuff that a collaborator who knows about dance will be. The collaborators need each other, and they also respect what each brings.”