There are a lot of firsts in this third year of the Dance for the Camera Festival and Workshop at the University of Utah.
"This year we will be screening student films from around the world," said Ellen Bromberg, festival producer and assistant professor of modern dance. "We're also giving Utah a peek at the winners of Dance Screen — one of the largest competitive international festivals and showcases for dance films and videos that was held in Monaco last year. And interestingly enough, some of those works don't involve real dancers but are considered dance films."
The third-annual Dance for the Camera Festival and Workshop will kick off Friday, Sept. 28, with the American debut of Dance Screen on Tour in the Alice Sheets Marriott Center for Dance on the U. campus. Screenings will begin at 8 p.m. Admission is free to the Sept. 28 screenings.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, the festival will present "Diverseworks," various international works by filmmakers and choreographers — including critically acclaimed "Measure" by Dayna and Gaelen Hanson, Laura Taler's "A Very Dangerous Pastime — a devastatingly simple guide," Sarah Masters' "In the Heart of the Eye", "Yusuf Daniels' "Memento Mori" and Thierry de Mey's "21 Etudes of a Dancer." Closing night — Sept. 30 — will feature juried films created by student filmmakers and choreographers from around the world. Admission is $5.50 for Sept. 29 and 30; tickets can be purchased at the door.
In addition to the screenings, a two-day workshop will be held Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Marriott Center for Dance.
The workshops will include discussions with Bromberg, former American Dance Festival video archive director Douglas Rosenberg and Oberlin College professor of theater and critical analyst Roger Copeland. Other workshops will include hands-on production work with various dancers and filmmakers from the U. Workshop admission is $150, which includes admission to the screenings.
The idea for bringing Dance Screen to the United States originated in Monaco, where that event usually takes place, said Bromberg.
"I was invited to participate in the jury of the Dance Screen competition last December," Bromberg explained during an interview with the Deseret News in her office at the U. "It was truly an amazing experience."
The jury, which included dance scholars from Sweden, France, Germany, England and the United States, had one week to view 166 works that ranged from four minutes to 1 1/2 hours long.
"With the help of coffee and chocolate, we selected winners in a number of areas, including the overall winner — David Hinton's 'Birds,' " Bromberg said.
Best screen choreography went to two works — Nicole and Norbert Corsino's "Captives 2nd Movement" and Katrina McPherson and Paula Hampson's "Movement from the United Kingdom." Best documentary went to Jos de Putter and Clara van Gool for "Zikr," named after a traditional Chechnyan dance.
"Those works are all included in the first night's screening," Bromberg said. "There were so many good ones that we ended up giving multiple awards like we did for best screen choreography."
But it was "Birds" that caught the jury's attention.
"There's no physical dancer, per se, in this film," Bromberg said. "But as a dance film, it's brilliant. We knew it was a risk, but we couldn't deny its merit. It's edited beautifully and it's all about movement. In fact, it was the only film that the whole jury applauded after we saw it. It's nothing less than choreography in its finest."
Like "Birds," the student work "Space Invaders" doesn't feature any real dancers, said Bromberg. "But the dancers who appear in the work are all digitally created. In fact, the graphics are so detailed that some people who have seen the work didn't know it was animated."
"Space Invaders" was created by Michael Cole from Arizona State University. His was among 13 of 41 international entries chosen to be screened at the Dance for the Camera Workshop this year.
"This year, I decided to create a competition for students around the world to have their dance films and videos judged," Bromberg said. "To me, it's important to have them feel they can succeed and excel in this particular field of work. Student films have been entered in other worldwide competitions but find it difficult competing against professional filmmakers with bigger budgets."
Bromberg invited dance and film professors from around the country to judge the submitted works last July.
"It was a wonderful experience for us all," Bromberg said. "We realized that there were a lot of gifted filmmakers and choreographers out there who are students."
The Dance for the Camera Festival and Workshop has matured the past couple of years, Bromberg said.
"When it began, we introduced the idea of dance for the camera," she said. "Last year, we gave an overview of what it is. This year, we're letting the world know what other kinds of opportunities are available to up-and-coming choreographers and filmmakers in this realm of dance and film."