One thing has become clear during the past year and that is that Genevieve Carson is not only an extraordinary choreographer, but she is also on her way to becoming an excellent dance filmmaker. Films that Carson has choreographed and sometimes directed include The Key of C (2020), Blinding Lights (2020) with collaborator Nathan Kim, The Box (2020), Blink (2019), and FAM (2016). She has, of course, surrounded herself with the extremely versatile dancers of Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company (LACDC), and for her new film SUMMON, an exceptionally talented dancer, choreographer, director Jamila Glass LACDC’s newest Artistic Director.

Filmed in lush and vibrant colors in a building adjacent to LACDC’s new home, The Stomping Ground LA, both owned and operated by the company’s founder and original Artistic Director Kate Hutter Mason, SUMMON is filled with mystery, humor, wonderful dancing, and a tinge of madness. The set’s lush and vibrant colors are captured by cinematographer and longtime collaborator Nathan Kim, and Carson’s movement is driven and excitingly enhanced by music scored by Emmy award-winning and Grammy and Oscar-nominated Kris Bowers.

Cast in a scene from SUMMON - Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company - Photo by Rob Amjarv

Cast in a scene from SUMMON – Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company – Photo by Rob Amjarv

Part of the film’s description reads “Grey Gardens is a haven where women come to feel free and to feel safe.” The building mentioned above is what the quote references; a building that was that Mason was having renovated to be part of The Stomping Ground L.A. One must not, however, confuse this film with 1975 documentary film by the same name by Albert and David Maysles. Due to the nature of a few of its characters, SUMMON does make one think of the reclusive mother and daughter, both named Edith Beale, who lived in a somewhat dilapidated mansion in East Hampton, New York.

I reached out to Carson and Glass to learn the genesis of SUMMON and was informed that Carson originally choreographed a completely different version of SUMMON for students at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts students to music by Vivaldi. Carson said that she has since been interested in adapting it to film with Glass as the film’s director.  Glass wrote that she watched the original work and pinpointed key moments that she wanted Genevieve to expand on choreographically and that the choreography was re-imagined for this film version of SUMMON.

“Genevieve wanted the film to be a celebration of women, community, and empowerment.” Glass wrote, and using those key words, spent weeks developing a story that “grounded the women in the work and in the location”.  The two then collaborated closely with composer Emmy award winner and Grammy and Oscar-nominee Kris Bowers who came up with a score that captured the same energy but that maintained its own unique sound.

Nicole Hagen in SUMMON - Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company - Photo by Rob Amjarv

Nicole Hagen in SUMMON – Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company – Photo by Rob Amjarv

The women in SUMMON are dressed in beautiful, stylish dresses that speak to a variety of occasions as if they all met at this place on their way to another event. One also may imagine that these 10 women were, are and forever will be there; caught in time by a shared secret. Along with Carson’s very musical choreography, Glass’s direction, Kim’s cinematography and Bowers’ exciting score, is the fact that this mystery, aloofness, and sisterhood that draws one into the film’s environment. I felt, however, that once inside one was there for eternity.  The house even has a woman who repeatedly walks past in the background like a ghostly spirit.

SUMMON is a film that offers a haven for the women who know about its existence, and it is most definitely a woman’s film. After watching SUMMON several times, however, I could not shake the notion that LACDC’s “Gray Gardens” was/is a mansion that cannot be avoided. The women inside compel one to pause and look inside. And, although you sense that you should not, you know that there is no choice but to enter. I highly recommend that you visit this magical place.

Film Credits for SUMMON include: Director, Writer, and Editor Jamila Glass; Choreographer Genevieve Carson; Cinematographer Nathan Kim; Composer Kris Bowers; Wardrobe Stylist Sami Martin Sarmiento; Hair by Lisa-Marie Powell; Makeup by Josiah Cracraft; 1st AC Zed (Zariah) Dally; 2nd AC Ashley Langley; Costume Assistant Yuki; and Set Photographer Rob Amjärv. The amazing cast of SUMMON include Hyosun Choi, Kate Coleman, Shauna Davis, Nicole Hagen, Kenzie McClure, Drea Sobke, Carissa Songhorian, Tiffany Sweat, Gigi Todisco, and Angel Tyson, with cameo appearances by Genevieve Carson and Jamila Glass.

SUMMON will be available for a 48-hr rental at the low cost of $5 for the foreseeable future HERE.

To visit the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company website, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company – SUMMON – Photo by Genevieve Carson