If one is searching for a silver lining during these dire times, one such wonderful benefit is a fest of incredible dances on camera from around the world. On January 30 and 31, 2021 The Broad Stage will present Dance Camera West Drive-In – Best of the Festival featuring two separate programs. Program A will be shown on Saturday the 30th at 5:30 pm and Sunday the 31st at 8 pm, and Program B on Saturday the 30th at 8 pm and Sunday the 31st at 5:30 pm. The drive-in will be located outdoors at the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus – East Parking Lot. Each film will be making its World, United States and/or Los Angeles premiere.

This international film festival represents Spain, Sweden, German, Portugal, United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Argentina. The films are diverse in themes, performance venues, dance styles, and performers. Dance Camera West (DCW) was co-founded in 2001 by Dancer, Choreographer, Filmmaker, and Director Kelly Hargraves and Dance Media Producer, Consultant, and Director Lynette Kessler. Over the past years DCW film festivals have taken place in numerous venues. In January 2020 it screened over 70 short, experimental and documentary films at REDCAT, drawing in an audience of approximately a thousand people. The Covid pandemic inspired The Broad Stage to reimagine a 1950’s idea, the drive-in movie.

These films are extraordinary and reading a review cannot and should not replace seeing them. If you can, please treat yourself to an evening out and to support DCW and The Broad Stage by attending Dance Camera West Drive-In – Best of the Festival. You will not be disappointed.

Shot in Moab, Utah, SEDIMENTED HERE (United States, 6:40) was choreographed and directed by Rachel Barker who mixes the extraordinarily beautiful elements of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, mesas and buttes carved out for centuries by the Green and Colorado rivers with three talented dancers, McCall McClellan, Jared McClure, and Abby Trinca costumed in earth tones that stood out but which did not clash with the natural soundings.  They ran and lay in the red clay colored river, performed dangerously close to the edge of canyon and mesa tops, and moved inside ancient holes carved out over time. We heard the echoes of their voices and saw a magnificent hawk soar between the canyon walls. A dancer crawled between gaps in the canyon walls, another swirled around in the red sediment, digging her toes in the river’s mud or all three simply stood and observed.

Barker’s choreography incorporated and reflected the canyon’s features rather than attempting to transplant a dance that she made elsewhere in a studio. The movement moved with the crevices, holes, river rushing by, and its sand. The canyon became not only something extraordinary to look at, but it danced with the human bodies who ventured there. The sound designs by Michael Wall and Troy Sales also used the natural sounds and the canyon’s beauty was captured by Director of Photography Ellen Maynard; camera and drone operator Walter Mirkss, and Ellen Maynard and Rachel Barker, whose editing helped make Sedimented Here a remarkable visual treat.

SEDIMENTED HERE (USA) - Choreographed and Directed by Rachel Barker - Dancer Jared McClure - Image courtesy of DCW

SEDIMENTED HERE (USA) – Choreographed and Directed by Rachel Barker – Dancer Jared McClure – Image courtesy of DCW

The award winning TRACES (Spain, 9:42)) features two beautiful dancers Paula Tato and Junyi Sun. Directed and written by Alex Murrull, and wonderfully choreographed by Maria Rovira, Traces is two parallel lives that quietly begin to overlap, and its characters finding temporary love. Tato and Sun perform amazingly athletic movement in the very same small single apartment, but except for one brief scene, they are never together. Rovira leaves nothing in that room unexplored and the two dancers are fearless. They move as if they are on a large empty stage and none of the movement looks cheated.  The title comes from the physical traces left in the room by each character: A book left on the floor, a pair of glasses found on a table, or an earring. The concept is ingenious and the film is a joy.

Other credits for Traces include: Director of Photography, Frederic Comí; Music, Dabú; and Costume Designer, Ariadna Papió.

Directed by Mariana Palacios and Adrian Del Arroyo, 4 (Sweden, 11:47) was billed as an experimental film. For someone who lived and worked in New York City during the 1960s and ‘70s, however, it is clear that director, producer, performer and composer Palacios, along with choreographer Del Arroyo  learned well from masters like John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Philip Glass and others of that era.

A black grand piano sat in a stark neon lit room as four performers, two musicians (Palacios and Juan J. Ochoa) and two dancers (Sabine Groenendijk and Benjamin Behrends) entered the space. The dancers stood quietly as the musicians slowly begin playing on the inside strings of the topless prepared piano. It is not long, however, as the movement fanned out and the musicians moved to the keyboard to perform an incredible four hand repetitive musical section. Amazing that twenty fingers fit into that small area without becoming entangled.

4 is an amazing film and its atmosphere and costuming gave off an air of science fiction, while its ending left us with a mysterious person observing and abruptly ending the activity. This is a film to watched again and remembered. Kudos to the editing by Peter Hein who managed not to miss anything and to enhance much.

Although the performances are wonderful, the film titled EARTH ODYSSEY (Germany, 4:31) was not. Sadly, after months of watching dancers and choreographers work on Zoom and Instagram Live, the sight of multiple dancers, each performing alone in or around their own homes to the same music has worn thin. For audiences who have not sat at their computer viewing such work, this may be an exciting film, however. The dancers are gorgeous, performing freely and without restraint, often in very constrained areas.

Earth Odyssey was directed by Adi Halfin and choreographed by the dancers who were not credited in the version I had access to. The very lively music was written, composed and performed by Israeli singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan.

EARTH ODYSSEY (Germany) - Directed by Adi Halfin - Image courtesy of DCW

EARTH ODYSSEY (Germany) – Directed by Adi Halfin – Image courtesy of DCW

Portuguese filmmaker Henrique Pina was the director and editor of BEAST (Portugal, 10:08) with choreography by Victor Hugo Pontes. It was a somewhat confusing, but enjoyable film that moved back and forth between protest and celebration, with the main venue involving the enormous concrete Braga Municipal Stadium, by the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura with its multiple stairways, ramps, railings and foundation pillars.

The male dancers appeared at first as protestors, faces hidden with gang like coverings, carrying poles with white flags. The masks are soon discarded and Pontes’ movement sends the men running, jumping, street dancing and soaring over almost every inch of the stadium. The final scene took place at night in the lit stadium with the performers wearing their hoodies in such a way as to look like small creatures. They shed their skins and slither nude across the stadium’s green AstroTurf as if mating with the “beast”.

Pontes’ choreography is a combination of street dance and pedestrian movements, and the six male performers Dinis Santos, Valter Fernandes, Alexandre Tavares, Marco Tavares, Diogo Almeida, and Vìtor Hugo Afonso seem to enjoy themselves. The music that propelled the performers was by Joana Gama and Luís Fernandes.

LIMINALITY (United States. 7:45) was directed and edited by Jennifer Akalina Petuch, and Director/Choreographer Annali Rose with stunning cinematography and underwater camerawork by Jennifer Akalina Petuch. Rose is also the dancer who, according to the description, was “inspired by reimagining what Odette may have experienced upon plunging to her death in the lake from the classical ballet Swan Lake.” Rose’s Odette continues to exist to dance her classically inspired movements without ever being seen coming to the surface.

This was a gorgeous film to watch. The music by composer Lincoln Sandham and Rose’s performance also brought on a much needed meditative serenity. It was intriguing to see movements that I know require lots of energy when performed onstage take on a dream-like ease and fluidity. To see a dancer leap underwater and not return to earth was gratifying.

WHERE THE SPIDERS LIVE (United Kingdom, 2:43) is a black and white film directed by German artists and filmmaker based in Scotland Holger Mohaupt and choreographed by Felix Watts. Mohaupt uses Watts, who performs in the film, an aging wooden building in Scotland, the camera and the expert editing of Jas Snodgrass as his choreographic tools. It is a brief, fun romp in, through and around the many openings and stairways of this stark and interesting building.  The movement is basically pedestrian with legs and hands dances, shadow dancing and a single appearance of a small spider sitting patiently in her web.

Heidi Duckler Dance - (L to R) Himerria Wortham, Tess Hewlett, and Ryan-Walker Page in ESCAPE - Photo by Marco Altamirano, courtesy of DCW

Heidi Duckler Dance – (L to R) Himerria Wortham, Tess Hewlett, and Ryan-Walker Page in ESCAPE – Photo by Marco Altamirano, courtesy of DCW

The final film on Program A was directed and choreographed by Los Angeles based artist Heidi Duckler in collaboration with Felipe Diaz Galarce. Duckler, who is the Artistic Director of Heidi Duckler Dance, has long been an advocate for civil justice and ESCAPE (United States,13:30) was filmed in Valdivia, Concepción and Los Ángeles, Chile during a time of ongoing civil unrest. Scenes with dancers performing in different venues such as an old wooden bench, a half empty and deserted swimming pool and in front of graffitied city walls are inserted between actual vintage and current footage of protesters in Chili with protestors carrying audible banners made from homemade kitchen items. Duckler also incorporates tin cups into her choreography like the ones used by the people of Chili as noise makers during protests.

Escape is a well-made, thought provoking and timely film, especially considering what our own country has been experiencing with the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter and other civil unrests. The three fearless dancers in Escape were Tess Hewlett, Ryan-Walker Page, and Himerria Wortham; Cinematography and editing by Felip Diazgalarce; Production design by María Fernanda Videla Urra; and Music by Elías André and Daniel Celsi.

Here is the full schedule and list of films for Dance Camera West Drive-In – Best of the Festival Programs A and B.

Program A

Sat, Jan. 30, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.
Sun, Jan. 31, 2021 at 8 p.m.

Sedimented Here (D/C: Rachel Barker, United States)

Traces (D/C: Alex Murrull, Spain)

4 (D: Mariana Palacios, C: Adrián del Arroyo, Sweden)

Earth Odyssey (D: Adi Halfin, C: Dancers, Germany

Beast (D: Henrique Pina, C: Victor Hugo Pontes, Portugal)

Liminality (D: Jennifer Akalina Petuch, D/C: Annali Rose, United States)

Where The Spiders Live (D: Holger Mohaupt, C: Felix Watts, United Kingdom)

Escape (D/C: Heidi Duckler, also lists Filmmaker: Felipe Díaz Galarce, United States)


Program B

Sat, Jan. 30, 2021 at 8 p.m.
Sun, Jan. 31, 2021 at 5:30 p.m

Dusk (D: Henrique Pina, C: Olga Roriz, Portugal)

ID (D/C: Cass Mortimer Eipper, Australia)

Forest Floor (D/C: Robbie Synge, United Kingdom)

Second Seed (D/C: Baye & Asa, United States)

Lost Horse (D: Adi Halfin, C: Bobbi Jene Smith, Or Schraiber, Germany

The King (D/C: Jonathan Redavid, United States)

Being (D: Pablo Destito and Agustina Videla, C: Agustina Videla, Argentina)

The Circadian Cycle (D/C: Garry Stewart, Australia)


Single screening tickets are priced at $45 per car (no passenger limit)

An $80 PREMIUM PASS includes both programs for a single car (option of both programs in one night or over two nights) plus the 2021 DCW Digital Festival Collection featuring 40+ films, sent by email to ticket holders in February.

There will be a limited number of $10 student tickets with appropriate identification. Processing and venue fees apply.

Tickets: Click here.

Information: Patron Services 310.434.3200 or patronservices@thebroadstage.org

Where:   Santa Monica College Bundy Campus – East Parking Lot, 3171 S Bundy Dr at Airport (between Ocean Park Blvd. and Palms) Los Angeles, CA 90066 Parking location is available on a first come, first served basis and upon completion of the program, cars must exit the lot immediately

COVID Protocol: All guests will have required safety COVID-19 protocols (including masks and distancing). Each program is expected to have a 65-minute runtime.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: 4 (Sweden) – Directed by Mariana Palacios and Adrian Del Arroyo – Dancers Sabine Groenendijk and Benjamin Behrends – Image courtesy of DCW