The Third Annual Greensboro Dance Film Festival was jointly held at Geeksboro Coffeehouse and Cinema, and the UNCG School of Dance this past weekend. Having been unable to make it to Geeksboro, I chose to catch the event on campus. Prior to this event, my exposure to dance films had been minimal. I’ve seen “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo”, “Happy Feet”, and the music video to “Thriller”, which I’m aware are not very indicative of dance as an art form. I took this opportunity to expose myself to an unfamiliar genre and expand my own artistic interests. Who knows, maybe this would suddenly inspire me to take a dance class or start directing my own dance films?
The event took place across four different stations: Coleman Theatre, Studio 322, and two separate “experimental stations” on Macs in the hallway. On the Macs, the viewer was instructed to “interact” with the pieces, although to me it seemed the only interaction was being able to pause and fast-forward. In Studio 322, pillows were laid in front of the screen so the viewer could relax while enjoying the films.
I started off the evening in Coleman Theatre, where I viewed “Urban Street Tap”, “Sparks”, and “Songs of the Underworld.” “Urban Street Tap” told the story of a young boy walking home from a tap-dance class when suddenly confronted by bullies in an alley. They tease him and try to steal his shoes. All of this morphs into a sudden hip-hop dance off. The boy accepts this challenge and impresses the crew with his ability to blend tap and hip-hop into a unique form. They accept him, and just when you think things have settled, he flips them off and runs down the alley.
“Sparks” was a short piece exploring the connection between a couple as they dance with sparklers. “Songs of the Underworld” also explored a relationship between couples. Showcasing two couples, one older and one younger, being drawn to the forest to rekindle their love for dancing and each other.
I then moved to studio 322, where I viewed “Solid Liquid Ether”, “The Verge of Helplessness”, and “Dense.” “Solid Liquid Ether” explored the architecture of a modern-art aquatic center. The cinematography was truly remarkable, although I found myself drawn to the landscape rather than the dancers for the whole piece. “The Verge of Helplessness” also explored setting, showing a woman dancing through a clock tower. “Dense” showed five dancers mashed into one giant blob, pushing, pulling, and climbing over each other for control.
The “experimental station” showcased the a more avant-garde side of the film festival. “Loren the Robot Butler: Teach Me How To Dougie!” featured an animated British robot. The goal of this robot was to instruct me on how to do the popular, yet outdated dance move “The Dougie”. “Intangible Body” was a heavily edited video of an Iranian woman dancing, with most of her body digitally removed to become a body of geometric shapes. “Geometries of Time” showed a woman dancing, but used heavy visual effects to multiply her form all throughout the screen.
Perhaps the best thing about the Dance Film Festival is being exposed to a wide variety of dance films. Some I found enjoyable, and others definitely challenged me as a viewer. “Solid Liquid Ether” really impressed me with its cinematography, although distracted me from the actual dance itself. I found humor and charm in “Urban Street Tap” as well as a great blend of story and art. I also got to finally learn how to Dougie from Loren the Robot Butler. The night didn’t inspire me to quit all other activities and devote my life to dance, but I at least have more appreciation for the artform itself.