Friday Film Break: Daisy Jacobson in "Mineral King"

Last summer, wildfires ravaged California, including Sequoia National Park's Mineral King Valley. Though it's known for its stunning landscapes and towering sequoia trees, the region also has a contentious history: In the 1800s it was mined for silver, and in the 1960s, Disney attempted to build a ski resort there, before plans were thwarted due to environmental concerns. In 1978, the Mineral King Valley officially became part of the National Park System, helping to preserve the land.

The nearby area is the backdrop for Americana musician Shulman Smith's video for "Mineral King," which doubles as a fundraiser for the Sequoia Parks Conservancy. The film is a collaboration with L.A. Dance Project's Daisy Jacobson, who personifies the Mineral King through movement.

"Shulman Smith came up with the story for the video," she says, "and I thought it was cool that he wanted to make Mineral King not a man, but a woman." Jacobson's character is a "woman who's of this forest, who wakes up and is curious and takes elements from the world around her, and they overwhelm her and she collapses."

As she dances around scorched tree remains, she becomes covered in makeup and body paint that emulate the minerals stripped from the valley. In a nod to the recent wildfires, she ultimately settles into a bed of ashes on the forest floor.

Daisy Jacobson dances in a barren landscape of ashy soil and trees scorched black by wildfires. She is wearing a light lavender slip dress.

Daisy Jacobson on set near Sequoia National Park

Lorrin Brubaker, Courtesy Alexandra Dunne PR

"It's impossible to pretend that climate change is not happening," says Jacobson. Prior to her involvement with "Mineral King," LADP's drive-in performances had to be postponed for three weeks as fires impacted the air quality, making outdoor rehearsals impossible. "We couldn't even be outside. I had ash in my hair from just from standing out there."

Soon after, Shulman Smith's team reached out to her about choreographing and dancing in the video. He'd seen her perform with LADP back in 2019 and wanted her to bring the story to life. "Mineral King" became Jacobson's first professional choreography credit. "When they mentioned it would be about the forest, I was like, 'Wow, let's do it.' "

For every $10 donation made to the Sequoia Parks Conservancy through this fundraiser, donors will be gifted $25 to give to the nonprofit of their choice. Money raised will be used for scientific research, fire mitigation and giant sequoia protection.

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J. Alice Jackson, Courtesy CHRP

Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Rhythm World Finally Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

What happens when a dance festival is set to celebrate a landmark anniversary, but a global pandemic has other plans?

Chicago's Rhythm World, the oldest tap festival in the country, should have enjoyed its 30th iteration last summer. Disrupted by COVID-19, it was quickly reimagined for virtual spaces with a blend of recorded and livestreamed classes. So as not to let the pandemic rob the festival of its well-deserved fanfare, it was cleverly marketed as Rhythm World 29.5.

Fortunately, the festival returns in full force this year, officially marking three decades of rhythm-making with three weeks of events, July 26 to August 15. As usual, the festival will be filled with a variety of master classes, intensive courses and performances, as well as a teacher certification program and the Youth Tap Ensemble Conference. At the helm is Chicago native Jumaane Taylor, the newly appointed festival director, who has curated both the education and performance programs. Taylor, an accomplished choreographer, came to the festival first as a young student and later as part of its faculty.

July 2021