In coordination with Dance Camera West (DCW), on January 7 – 9, 2021 Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz led by Artistic Director Pierre Leloup, will host the first of a month-long International Dance Film Festival. According to Kelly Hargraves, the Executive and Artistic Director of DCW, the festival received more than 250 international entries from 35 countries. Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz will be screening 18 films over the three nights and DCW and The Broad Stage will screen a total of 16 films during a two day Dance Camera West Drive-In – Best of the Festival on January 30-31, 2020 in the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus – East Parking Lot with a different program each night.

LA Dance Chronicle was able to preview the Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz’s International Dance Film Festival, and Night One offers great promise for what is to come on nights two and three and for the DCW drive-in screenings later in January.

"All It Gives", film by Talia Woodland - Dancer Kosi “KC” Eze - Screenshot by LADC

“All It Gives”, film by Talia Woodland – Dancer Kosi “KC” Eze – Screenshot by LADC

All It Gives (Runtime: 15 mins/English/Canada) directed by professional dancer and filmmaker Talia Woodland, showcased an up-and-coming Hip Hop star Kosi “KC” Eze who was born in Nigeria, moved to Toronto, Canada at age 14 when her parents migrated there and who found hope and happiness through the Hip Hop culture.

All It Gives features Hip Hop dancing stars Marcelino “FrostFlow” Dacosta, Mariano “Glizzi” Abarca, and Caroline “Lady C” Fraser who saw promise in Eze. These three saw promise in Eze when she could not believe in herself and helped the young dancer to come out of her shell and blossom. Of “FrostFlow”, Eze said that he taught her “to stand straight, demand respect and how to throw down a mean set.” She considers “Lady C” to be the best female Hip Hop dancer in Canada states that Hip Hop gave her the platform to express what she was feeling inside; the loneliness of be one of the few blacks in her high school, being thrust into a totally foreign culture and feeling unwanted.

Marcelino “FrostFlow” Dacosta in All It Gives" - Photo courtesy of Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz

Marcelino “FrostFlow” Dacosta in All It Gives” – Photo courtesy of Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz

This film has wonderful, although extremely brief, scenes of Eze practicing, dancing in battles and of the other artists performing. We hear them talk about the young Eze, her potential and her wonderful progression. All It Gives is but an hors d’oeuvre for those interested in learning more about the Canadian Hip Hop scene, but it is a wonderful film to watch.

All It Gives was written by Talia Woodland and Matthew Takatsch, produced by Anthony Hunos and Talia Woodland, edited by Matthew Takatsch, cinematography by Micheal Gouvis and Talia Woodland, and the score was composed by Fevra, Germain Carter. Additional music was by BBoy Wicket Beats, Lady C, Cody Coflo Ferreira.

Caroline “Lady C” Fraser in "All It Gives" - Screenshot by LADC

Caroline “Lady C” Fraser in “All It Gives” – Screenshot by LADC

Talia Woodland is a multi-media artist from Whitehorse, Yukon. A graduate of Humber College’s renowned Film & Television Production program, her foray into documentary filmmaking began with her as picture editor on the critically acclaimed short, “Stripped.” From there, she worked as a camera operator on several short film projects, which led to her role as Cinematographer on the short musical drama, “Lola Jones.” The recipient of the 2019 Women in Film Award Woodland is interning with celebrated Canadian filmmaker Liz Marshall and continuing her dance work with Borealis Soul.

The debut documentary for Directed and Produced Orit Novak, CHEN (Runtime: 21 mins./Chinese, English/Australia) features Chinese Australian dancer Chengwu Guo who was born in Jiuiang, China, began studying dance at the age of 8 and was accepted into Beijing Dance Academy at age 10. After coming in second at a dance competition, Chen used this scholarship opportunity to enter the Australian Ballet Academy at age 16.

"CHEN", film by Orit Novak - Dancer Chengwu Guo - Photo courtesy of Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz

“CHEN”, film by Orit Novak – Dancer Chengwu Guo – Photo courtesy of Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz

CHEN follows the young dancers training through to when he becomes a Principle Artist with The Australian Ballet. We see scenes from his classes, class level exams, and rehearsals. There are scenes of Chen dancing at age 18 in the film Mao’s Last Dance Directed by Bruce Beresford, along brief scenes from his performances in Sleeping Beauty and with his dancing and life partner Ako Kondo, also a Principal Artist with The Australian Ballet. Chen talks about his fears while recovering from an injury that sidelines his career for a full year, and we see the joy in his return to the artform that he loves. It is a charming film with wonderful footage edited with great skill by Rebecca Gauci and Orit Novak.

"CHEN" - Dancers Chengwu Guo on ground, Ako Kondo in air - Screenshot by LADC

“CHEN” – Dancers Chengwu Guo on ground, Ako Kondo in air – Screenshot by LADC

Novak is a passionate storyteller and filmmaker and has worked tirelessly on this project for the past two years. Throughout the process she has been inspired by films such as ‘Dancer’, ‘Polina’ and ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ and drew on these films frequently for inspiration. Apart from her love of documentary filmmaking she has also directed, edited and produced music videos and narrative short films. She enjoys all stages of the filmmaking process especially post-production where she really feels the story comes together. Orit continues to seek out new and innovative ways of telling stories. With her unique passion for visual effects and keen eye for rhythm and editing she continues to improve her skills in all areas of filmmaking.

The Cinematography and Sound Recording for CHEN is by Lachlan Hookway with an Original Score by Nicholas Kumashov. The performances seen in this film includes choreography by David McAllister, Marius Petipa, and Arthur Saint Leo.

The third film on Night One was a charming short film directed by Stephanie Owens titled Downstage (Runtime: 12 min. 15 sec./English/USA) about an 11-year-old boy, Aedan Daly, in his first years of studying ballet . It also features dancers Da’ Von Doane and Christopher Charles McDaniel who have since become members of Dance Theatre of Harlem – Doane as a Principal Male Dance Artist.

Young Daly talks about how he became interested in studying ballet, how his school mates talk about him and the physical challenges of ballet training. There are wonderful scenes of him in class and rehearsal and we get to see part of his very first solo performance at the Pre-Competitive Division at the Youth American Grand Prix Competition in Philadelphia, PA.

Aedan Daly in "Downstage", film by Stephanie Owens - Photo courtesy of Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz

Aedan Daly in “Downstage”, film by Stephanie Owens – Photo courtesy of Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz

As a male dancer, it was interesting to hear Doane and McDaniel talk about their training and their early experiences with classmates. Doane said that the teasing he received at school did not make him want to quit dancing but to stop going to school.

This is a beautiful film and excellent for young dancers, male or female, to learn that what they are experiencing during their training is what every dancer experiences.

Ballet isn’t easy, and 11-year old Aedan knows it. As he prepares for his first solo ballet competition, full of blossoming drive, seasoned ballet professionals reflect on their own transformative journeys with ballet. Together, they process the challenges and rewards of this demanding art form.  Aedan Daly continues to study ballet alongside 50 other boys at Metropolitan Ballet’s renowned Boys’ Scholarship Program in Jenkintown, PA and he attends summer intensives at The San Francisco Ballet School.

The Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematography of Backstage, Stephanie Owens is a filmmaker with a background in experimental works, who is deeply invested in the documentary community. Owens graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Studio Art and went on to study in the Art and Film/Video Programs at California Institute of the Arts where she earned her MFA. Traditionally, her works have been collaborations between herself and subjects, drawing attention to their relationship and the construction of the film. She is also interested in themes of placement and language.

The class musician was T. Duncan Parker, the Sound Editing and Mix was by Ears Up Sound Design.

The Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz International Dance Film Festival opens on January 7, 2021 and runs through January 9th with different film programs each night. To purchase tickets for the festival, click HERE.

For purchase tickets for the Dance Camera West Drive-In – Best of the Festival on January 30-31, 2020, click HERE.

To visit the Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz website, click HERE.

To visit The Broad Stage website, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured Image: Downstage, film by Stephanie Owens – Aedan Daly backstage before performing – Screenshot by LADC