Dance Matters: From Swamp to Stage
Christina Ilisije and Elena D’Amario of Parsons Dance at the Big Cypress National Preserve. Photo by Andrew Propp, Courtesy Wolf Trap.
“No dancer was eaten alive, either by mosquitoes or alligators,” quips Barbara Parker, director of artistic initiatives at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Virginia. She is referring to the 10 days Parsons Dance Company spent shooting video in the varied terrain of four different South Florida national parks, from the Everglades to beaches to remote islands. As part the “Face of America” series, Parsons Dance will incorporate the footage into a live performance at Wolf Trap on Sept. 8.
Beginning in 2000 with the breathtaking aerial dance of Project Bandaloop rigged on mountains in Yosemite, “Face of America” has featured the Olympic synchronized swimming team performing underwater at Coral Reef National Monument, along with a work by Donald Byrd in Virgin Islands National Park; gone underground at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park with Doug Varone and Dancers; simulated human flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC, with daredevil Elizabeth Streb; scaled volcanoes with Halau O Kekuhi at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park; and traversed the Going-to-the-Sun Road with Trey McIntyre Project in Montana’s expansive Glacier National Park.
David Parsons and his dancers took inspiration from the natural settings and wildlife. “We got primal and it really shaped a lot of the choreography,” he says. They spent entire days immersed in swampy water last November to capture the vitality and variety of the landscape.
Seventy miles off the coast of Key West in the remote Dry Tortugas islands, Parsons was astounded that Cuban refugees continue to land there. “You really get the sense of urgency when it comes to the plight of the Cuban people,” he says.
Parsons continues to feel the effects of this meeting of art and park in the forests, beaches, and swamps of South Florida. “This collaboration between our lands, our filmmakers, our choreographers, our dancers, and our musicians is a powerful premise,” he says. “I hope all of these elements inspire people to go visit these places.”
Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.
At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.
When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.
"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
When Hollywood needs to build a fantasy world populated with extraordinary creatures, they call Terry Notary.
The former gymnast and circus performer got his start in film in 2000 when Ron Howard asked him to teach the actors how to move like Whos for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notary has since served as a movement choreographer, stunt coordinator and performer via motion capture technology for everything from the Planet of the Apes series to The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and this summer's The Lion King.
Since opening the Industry Dance Academy with his wife, Rhonda, and partners Maia and Richard Suckle, Notary also offers movement workshops for actors in Los Angeles.