Dance film festival to debut at Mac

By Kristin Riegel

Macalester’s first dance film festival, Rolling Footage, debuts today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. With a wide variety of genres and focuses, the festival hopes to expose Macalester and the larger community to a new and upcoming art form.Inspired by a collection of videos at her local library, Jenn Henry ’07 approached Becky Heist, Director of Macalester’s Dance Program, with the idea of the festival. Heist said she was immediately interested in exploring the possibility of bringing the art of dance film to the Macalester community.

With funding from the Class of 1950 research grant, Henry and Heist worked together throughout the summer to develop the dance film festival. After viewing hours of film from local, national, and international artists, Henry and Heist decided which films would be included in the festival.

“Dance film is choreography meant to be seen through the lens of a camera,” said Heist. “This type of dance allows you to go anywhere . . . it opens up the possibilities for exploring movement.”

Henry and Heist chose films that touched on numerous themes. “The films run the gamut, “Henry said. In ‘The Cost of Living’ the star dancer has no legs. There is a lot of voice acting in the whole thing. It touches on a lot of deeper issues.”

“Dance film festivals are better funded and supported elsewhere . . . however, there are big festivals in California and New York,” said Olive Bieringa of BodyCartography, a dance film company based in Minneapolis.

Despite its new and growing following, Bieringa said that dance film has existed since the beginning of film experimentation. “The first films ever made were dance pieces,” Bieringa said.

For dancers and choreographers, dance film allows the artist a chance to explore different landscapes, viewing points, and ways to interact with the audience.

“As a dance-maker and choreographer, video lets me develop work for the bigger world,” Bieringa said. “It has brought me back to my visual arts origins.”

“Dance has gotten a bad reputation,” Henry said. “When people think of dance they think of ballet which is far removed and doesn’t really speak to them. I think dance film is able to deal with more subject matter in a smaller, more digestible form.”

Henry and Heist are hoping that Rolling Footage will expose Macalester to dance film and increase conversation about the art form. “I would love for the Macalester community to give this a try even if they don’t know what it is,” Heist said. “I think for some people this will be very exciting.”

Rolling Footage will play in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall. Films included in the festival originate from the Twin Cities, Toronto, San Diego, London, Kalamazoo, and New York. The length of the films vary, with the shortest film being about three minutes and the longest about 36 minutes. Friday’s feature is “Cost of Living” by Lloyd Newson and Saturday’s feature is “Black Spring” by Heddy Maalem.

The festival is open to all Macalester/ACT students, faculty, and staff. Tickets are also available for community members. For more information, call the Macalester Box Office at (651) 696-6359.