Sink or Swim
I’m pleased to say the countdown has begun… The jury has met and in just two weeks Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival will announce the winning films. Meanwhile, all those of you who submitted, go rally your base for the Audience Choice Award today!
It’s great to start the New Year right, and sometimes a little underwater ballet is just what we need. To whet your appetite (pun intended), today we have Sink or Swim, a visually lush short film from the Nowness: Just Dance series. It’s hard to go wrong when you have a beautiful classical dancer, stunning lighting, slow motion, and water… I’ve seen dozens of films with these components and it’s a winning combination almost every time. What is lovely about this short is the melding of shapes as the camera moves from under water to dry land in the studio or vice versa, often with movement beginning in one place and resolving in another. The slow motion, the dancer’s body making gorgeous lines, the bubbles, the mostly subdued color in black, white and blue tones are visual eye candy for sure, but not sugar coated – there’s actual substance intended here.
As per the liner notes the film is about a woman struggling with depression and was inspired by an oil painting from the Northern Irish artist Ian Cumberland. Sink or Swim is by a London based director, Louis-Jack, with dancer Francesca Hayward, a principal with The Royal Ballet, and was supported in part by The Royal Ballet, the extremely laudable Wayne McGregor, and the mental health charity Mind. The film opens very aptly with the sound of breathing, and melds into a moving score is by Matt Dunkley. The choreography by Charlotte Edmonds while a bit limited in its language by my contemporary standards works fine, and certainly shows off Haywards’ gifts and beauty as a dancer.
While to my eye Sink or Swim might veer a little over the top at times, its reined in enough to have real substance, and of course beauty abounding. And sometimes in this day and age in order to get a point across, the subject matter is important enough to risk what might be construed as a surplus of emotion.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder/Director of Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, Sarah Elgart is a Los Angeles based choreographer and director working under the auspice of Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow. Sarah creates original content for stage, screen, and site-specific venues. Her stage and site-works have been performed at alternative spaces including LAX Airport, The Skirball Center, Mark Taper Forum, Van Nuys Flyaway, The Bradbury Building, Jacob’s Pillow, INSITU Site-Specific Festival NY, and Loft Seven, where she created a rooftop work lit entirely by a hovering helicopter accompanied by Nels Cline (Wilco). Her work has been produced by venues including The Music Center, MASS MoCA, Dance Place, Los Angeles Theater Center, Mark Taper Forum and The International Women’s Theater Festival. In film Sarah has worked with noted directors including JJ Abrams, David Lynch, Catherine Hardwicke, and Anton Corbijn. Her own films include award-winning music videos, dance shorts, and an Emmy nominated PSA, and continue to be accepted into festivals internationally. In addition to teaching dance and film, Sarah writes a regular column, ScreenDance Diaries that focuses on the intersections of both genres internationally for online magazine Cultural Weekly. Sarah’s work has received support from organizations that include the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council and more. She is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Dance Film Lab, a Fellow of AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, and a director member of the DGA.
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