Ezra Hurwitz has created a successful second career in film. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy Hurwitz.

How Dancer-Turned-Filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz Makes Dance Go Viral

Ezra Hurwitz's dance trailers are tailor-made for going viral. His fast-moving shorts highlight not only the glamour of dance but also the grit, with a stylish Millennial sensibility.

The former Miami City Ballet corps member has been tapped by everyone from San Francisco Ballet to The Kennedy Center to Broadway's Chicago. He's also done commercials for non-dance companies like WeWork and Opening Ceremony, and collaborated on a music video for The National with Justin Peck. But no matter who's in front of the camera, his dancer's eye is always behind it.


He recently spoke to Dance Magazine about his unique creative process.

He Starts Each Project By Asking, Why Is This On Film?

"When I'm filming dance, the question for me is always, How can video add a new dimension to this dance as opposed to just holding a lens up to it?"

Storytelling is Key For Grabbing Viewers

"In concert dance, we're used to the luxury of viewers already being in seats and engaged. But when you're putting video on the internet, the attention span is very different. You have to find ways to keep engaging the viewer."

"Even if it's 30 seconds long, I'm always trying to figure out what the narrative hook is. Everyone likes to invest in a story, even subconsciously.

"With my upbringing at the School of American Ballet, and my fluency with Balanchine and Robbins, I naturally take a sort of neoclassical approach to storytelling. It doesn't need to be a classic narrative to have a story."

"Because I'm so used to dance, as a filmmaker I can easily engage in physically driven narrative. I don't need dialogue."

He Does His Own Kind Of Choreography Behind The Camera

"I work with a choreographer on things like how a phrase should be framed, what vantage point would be most unpredictable, whether we want to accentuate the movement by moving the camera or is that actually going to take away from the excitement of the movement."

He Can Stretch A Budget Like A Dancer

"I put 99 percent of my budget into one or two days of production. Which means I can't lean on a ton of other resources. So for now it's me and Google figuring out effects like how to make it rain inside of a theater."

He Still Aspires To Be Peter Boal

"All my work—whether dance or non-dance content—feels fluid in a way. I was like that as a dancer, too. I always tried to be Peter Boal."

Being a Dancer Can Be Handy—And a Handicap

"My familiarity with dance allows me to make sure the content is enjoyed both by laymen who might not know if the positions are right and the dancers who'll cringe if they're not. But like any perfectionist, sometimes that's too narrow a perspective to have; technique is not always as important as you think it is."

So, What's Next?

"I have a twofold dream: I want to do a feature film, but first, a Target commercial."

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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