NOWNESS has a solid track record when it comes to putting dancers on camera, from exquisite fashion spots to intimate portraits featuring a who's who of the dance world. Their most recent collaborators: American Ballet Theatre principals (and real life best friends) Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside. But "Just Dance: Early Sunday Morning" is not at all what we expected from this team-up. Yes, there is gorgeous dancing wrapped in stunning editing and cinematography, and yes, the choreography is by the endlessly inventive Justin Peck, who has been making moves for the lifestyle brand since before he was New York City Ballet's resident choreographer. But director Yoonha Park takes Peck's choreography and the haunting Sufjan Stevens score and launches us into a strange, disconcerting world.
The video unfolds in a massive, empty cineplex, Boylston listlessly vacuuming until she stumbles across Whiteside, dozing in one of the theaters. An eerie tension pervades shots that might be at home setting up jump scares in a horror flick. Instead, the dancers begin to fling themselves through Peck's urgent yet lusciously liquid pas de deux, Boylston full of her characteristic abandon, Whiteside sure and steady in his partnering. The final movement sequence, shot from above, veers into surreality. When Boylston steps away and blinks a couple of times, it's as though she's waking from a half-remembered dream. Check out the full video below.