During these extraordinary times, artists around the world have continued to find ways to create new work and to share these creations with an ever growing audience. Dance on camera is not new, nor are international dance film festivals. During a pandemic, however, dance artists who wish to shoot new films have had to overcome unprecedented challenges – aside from the usual ones associated with funding the arts. Jacob Jonas is one such artist who has continued to create new work for his company, Jacob Jonas The Company, and to find alternate performance venues. He was one of the first in Los Angeles to perform what has come to be called Drive-In Dance, performing his work titled PARKED in the Santa Monica Airport parking lot with his dancers encircled by 35 cars. The audience was told that masks were a must, to keep their windows rolled up and on given cues, turn on their headlights as part of the lighting design. Now he has managed to reach around the world to gather together a community of dance, music, film and photography artists.
Premiering on January 25, 2021, Jonas’ newest endeavor is to produce, in partnership with Somewhere Magazine, Films.Dance, an international film series involving over 150 artists from 52 cities in 25 countries (https://www.films.dance/artists). Somewhere Magazine is an online lifestyle magazine based in London with a focus on photography, fashion, film, travel and design. Out of this collaboration, 15 short films have been shot during one of the worse global pandemics in our lifetime. In continuing to bring the community together, Jonas has managed to bring aboard as Co-presenters the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. Through the support of these three organizations and other donors, Films.Dance is available to the public at no charge.
“Our goals are to create a global arts community, to elevate the power of dance through non-traditional collaborations and to engage digital audiences in innovative ways,” said Jacob Jonas, Executive Producer of Films.Dance. “The diversity of the artists and their explorations has fostered new ways of thinking and has allowed the formation of deep relationships across physical borders. I look forward to launching this series worldwide.”
The countries where these films were shot include Amsterdam, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, United States, England, Nigeria and Spain. “…the series connects the perspectives of diverse artists from a range of discipline, dance genres, abilities, and experiences – Films.Dance exists at the intersection of dance, music, fashion, and Film.” [from the Jacob Jonas The Company press release.]
President and CEO of the Harris Theater, Lori Dimun said that she was intrigued by this project from the start. ““Films.Dance has also allowed us to challenge our assumptions about how art is created and shared, and to establish new partnerships – our first with JJTC, the Soraya, and the Wallis. We are excited by the opportunity to think beyond our physical space, to be transported by the diverse collective of artists to the places they live and work, and to share these extraordinary films as a community that transcends genre, geography, and language.”
“Jacob Jonas The Company has been carving out a unique place in the dance world landscape, since the company was formed just seven years ago,” said Paul Crewes, Artistic Director of The Wallis. With Films.Dance, The Company further pushes artistic boundaries, expanding its mission of tackling complex societal and environmental issues and addressing interpersonal relationships in a novel way that embraces, empowers, and uplifts dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers and filmmakers around the globe.”
The films include:
January 25, 2021
Self-taught dancers and brothers Victory and Marvel Ebinum explore familial bonds against the landscape of their native Nigeria. With original choreography by New York City-based Vinson Fraley, a member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Kaduna features an original score by Los Angeles-based composer Anibal Sandoval, and is co-directed by Ridwan Adeniyi, member of the Nigeria-based Critics Company, and Jacob Jonas.
February 1, 2021
Set in the urban metropolis of London, Toke is an intimate portrait of Danish-born dancer Toke Broni Strandby. An inspiring story about triumph, Toke is a celebration of the beautiful resilience of the human spirit. London-based award-winning filmmaker NONO and cinematographer Eira Wyn Jones captured Toke’s unique story, set to an original score by Paulo Gallo and with an original costume by Japanese designer Kazuya Kojima.
February 8, 2021
When the pandemic hit, dancers Luís Fernando, Jovani Furlan, Luanna Gondim and Maitê Nunes reunited in their hometown of Joinville, Brazil and dance together as a shadow of one another, in a familiar yet alien place that allows for contemplative self-examination. Directed by Gabriela Mo and with cinematography by Larissa Zaidan, Pássaro Distante features original choreography by Cassi Abranches, choreographer for São Paolo Companhia de Dança and Grupo Corpo, and original music from Andrei Martinez Kozyreff, Ju Strassacapa and Malu Magri, members of Latin Grammy-nominated group, Francisco, El Hombre.
February 15, 2021
Five choreographers, 46 dancers, 20 countries—Match is dance not bound by theater walls or limited by international borders. Dancers from the world’s leading companies join together in Match; with original choreography by Emily Kikta (New York City Ballet), Jamar Roberts (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater), Oliver Starpov (Royal Danish Ballet), Peter Walker (New York City Ballet) and Xin Ying (Martha Graham Dance Company).
February 22, 2021
Desmond Richardson, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, dance a new work choreographed by Jacob Jonas. Edging Normal is a metaphorical tale of a man’s struggle to shed his past in order to feel completely free. Directed by Andre Bato, Edging Normal features music co-composed by visionary Steve Hackman and jazz icon Dave Koz, a nine-time Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist.
March 1, 2021
正念 – NOW
Shanghai-based director Robin Mahieux focuses the lens on a young woman, Li Kehua (Lico), dancer with BeijingDance/LDTX company, as she awakens to the fullness of the present moment. Choreographed by Gypsy Snider, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of The 7 Fingers, and set to original music from Rosie Lowe, singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist based in London, 正念 – NOW steps into now, forsaking the past and mindfully moving into the future.
March 8, 2021
Captured on Super 16 mm film and utilizing natural light, four dancers explore abstraction through the framing of movement set against the terrain of the Dutch hamlet of Spaarnwoude. Ian Robinson, former dancer with Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, directs Kele Roberson, Annika Verplancke, Jesse Callaert and Mikaela Kelly, members of Nederlands Dans Theater, with cinematography by Amsterdam-based Sam du Pon and music composed by Awir Leon, singer songwriter, producer and former dancer with Emanuel Gat Dance.
March 15, 2021
ANOTHER SERIOUS DANCE FILM
New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns performs tongue-in-cheek choreography by Andrea Miller, founder of GALLIM, at the East River Park Amphitheater in a witty short film directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, directors of the current Netflix film Project Power, to an original score from five-time Grammy Award-winning composer Antonio Sánchez.
March 22, 2021
Directed by Grammy-nominated director Andy Hines, Same Sky explores the world in front of us, the differences amongst ourselves, and a likeness we see in others. With music composed by Steve Hackman, Same Sky features the original choreography of Rauf “RubberLegz” Yasit, a German break-dancer living in Los Angeles, and is performed by Jacob Jonas The Company members Joy Isabella Brown, Miguel Alejandro López, Mike Tyus and Jill Wilson.
March 29, 2021
Alone in a vacant school, Montreal-based filmmaker Vincent René-Lortie directs seven-year-old Adeline Kerry Cruz on an intimate and exhaustive journey of self-expression. With choreography by Russell “Gutta” Ferguson, she navigates her emotions through the free and expressive street dance style Krump and to the original score by Brady Kendall of Alaskan Tapes.
April 5, 2021
New York City ballet principal dancer Gonzalo Garcia’s energy is like a hundred thousand horses as he delves inside the earth, inside himself. Directed by Barcelona-based Nur Casadevall, it features original music from Alex Somers, composer for films including Captain Fantastic (2016), Honey Boy (2019) and Miss Americana (2020).
April 12, 2021
Xeno is the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone. Mexico City-based choreographer and founder of contemporary dance company Nohbords, Diego Mur created an original work on Montreal-based circus-artists Natasha Patterson and Sabine van Rensburg. Xeno is directed by Amy J. Gardner, with cinematography by Kristof Brandl and original music by Berlin-based Alice Phoebe Lou and Thor Rixon.
April 19, 2021
In this visual exploration of the expectations of manhood, three men fight for dominance while exposing the internal fight and dialogue with the self, embodied by the three protagonists. While each of them fights for dominance, they simultaneously expose their weaknesses, tearing each other down, lifting each other up and struggling to find support in moments of fading strength. Berlin-based director Torben Loth captures the original choreography of London-based Waddah Sinada, founder of FUBUNATION. The work is performed by Conal Finn Francis-Martin, Robert Robinson and Jamal Uhlmann, all dancers with State Ballet Hanover, and features an original sound design by Peter Duffy, original score by Pete Fraser and wardrobe by Chinese-born, London-based designer Feng Chen Wang.
April 26, 2021
21 acrobats from around the world, from Australia to the United States to Russia, performed and filmed their unique movement styles which were then layered with animation to create Plume. Despite clipped wings, the artists in Plume perform in full flight underscored by the brilliant music played by noted violinist Hillary Hahn. Co-directed by Francisco Cruz and Beren D’Amico, the film features an original score by Gaelynn Lea, an American folk singer, violinist, public speaker and disability advocate, with arrangement by Steve Hackman.
May 3, 2021
WEAKNESS OF THE FLESH
Los Angeles-based Jacob Jonas virtually co-directs with Ireland-based Kevin McGloughlin, intersecting dance and visual design. Performed by Jacob Jonas The Company’s Emma Rosenzweig-Bock, Weakness of the Flesh features original music by Max Cooper, working at the intersection between electronic music, visual art, technology and science, the vocals of Hindustani Classical trained Samad Khan, and the cinematography of Shaun Boyte.
Films.Dance begins on Monday, January 25, 2021 with a new film presented each Monday for the next 15 weeks. Each film will premiere for free at 9 am PST on the Web at Films.Dance, on Instagram on the @films.fance account, and the Films.Dance Facebook page.
To visit the Jacob Jonas The Company website, click HERE.
Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: PLUME – Directors: & Editors Beren D’Amico + Francisco Cruz Featuring: Joy Isabella Brown – Photo courtesy of Films.Dance