Premiering a new film each Monday for 15 weeks, Films.Dance, an International Film Series produced by Jacob Jonas The Company in partnership with Somewhere Magazine and co-presented by The Wallis, The Soraya and the Harris Theatre, begins next Monday, January 25, 2021. Films.Dance engages more than 150 artists from 52 cities in 25 countries, culminating in 15 short films that have been shot during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On January 25th, the series opens with the premiere of KADUNA, a moving and beautiful film featuring two self-taught brothers, Victory and Marvel Ebinum. Choreographed by New York-based Vinson Fraley, the two men show a true sense of love for each other and Farley’s choreography not only showcases these two dance novices, but his movement appears natural to their bodies. The two brothers show affection for one another and a trust that is only inherent in close siblings. Through the movement, they converse, share the amazing landscape of their native Nigeria, and perform with a great air of confidence.
We see them in identical all brown or all white costumes by Khadijah Yunusa that enhance their family ties. Through the editing process, their costumes occasionally shift from brown to white during a single movement phrase without interrupting the flow and we get to see some of the open and barren landscapes of Nigeria as well as its gorgeous and lush river areas. Unlike some dance for camera works, here the editing frees the movement and flows with the choreography. As a colleague of mine said to me, dance on film is much better when the camera becomes part of the choreography. This is certainly true in Kaduna.
Another wonderful element of this film is the music score by Anibal Sandoval with the wonderful singing voices of women from the Gbagyii Tribe predominately found in Central Nigeria. Sandoval blends his music with these tribal voices so that neither overrules the other. It is uniquely beautiful.
Kaduna was directed by Ridwan Abdullateff and Jacob Jonas, and the Director of Photography was Raymond Yusuff.
TOKE, which premieres on Monday, February 1, 2021, is another excellent dance film that investigates the inner thoughts and emotions of Danish-born dancer Toke Broni Standby. Missing part of his left arm, Toke states that he was never considered to be disabled until he began dancing. From this perspective, his dancing and his performance are exceptional. Being categorized in this manner or confined to a misinformed label is expressed by placing Standby inside an exceedingly small, clear sided box.
It is more than a simple portrait of Standby, however, as the choreography by Stuart Shugg, allows Standby’s frustration, anger and passion for dancing to be visualized. Most memorable, his feeling of needing to bust out of the confinement brought about by society’s labels is expressed with multiple images of Standby jumping into view from the bottom of the camera frame like sparse kernels of corn bursting open from being overheated. Shugg’s movement frees Standby, confines him and shows us the man’s inner thoughts without making us feel like intruders.
Toke was directed by London-based award-winning filmmaker NONO and the Cinematographer was Eira Wyn Jones. The very plain but beautiful costume that does not diminish Standby’s missing arm was by Clothing Designer Kazuya Kojima, based in Aichi, Japan. The dramatic score was by multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and sound designer based in Berlin, Paulo Gallo.
Not as enjoyable but performed extremely well by dancers Jovani Furlan, Luanna Gondim, Maite Nunes, and Luis Fernando is Brazilian film PÁSSARO DISTANTE premiering on Monday, February 8, 2021. Directed by Gabriela Mo and choreographed by Cassi Abranches, dancers perform a fusion of jazz and contemporary style dance in both exterior and interior venues. One section includes a relay-style movement phrase that has become popularized during the pandemic dance film era. A dancer performs a brief solo movement phrase, for example, finishing with the toss of an arm, leg or head that sends the phrase on to the next dancer located in a different area. In this case it is on an urban rooftop.
The dancers are talented and nice to look at, but nothing else about this film stands out as excellent. The best thing it has going for it is that it is short; 2 minutes and 53 seconds. The Cinematographer for Pássaro Distante was Larissa Zaidan and Music Production: Ju Strassacapa + Malu Magri.
Films.Dance begins on January 25, 2021 and each film will be available for at least a year on Jacob Jonas The Company’s website Films.Dance. They will also be available on YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram and Facebook.
To visit the Jacob Jonas The Company website, click HERE.
To visit the Somewhere Magazine website, click HERE.
To visit The Wallis website, click HERE.
To visit The Soraya website, click HERE.
To visit The Harris Theatre website, click HERE.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: TOKE (London, UK) – Directed by NONO – Choreography by Stuart Shugg – Dancer: Toke Broni Standby – Screenshot by LADC.