Call Me Dancer
Call Me Dancer directed by Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour

Presented by Dance Films Association (DFA) and Film at Lincoln Center (FLC), the 51st edition of the Dance on Camera Festival returns from February 10 to 13, 2023, featuring 13 programs with a total of 30 new films.

Dance on Camera, the longest-running dance film festival in the world, opens with the New York premiere of Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour’s Call Me Dancer. Executive produced by critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, and record producer Jay Sean, the film’s true-life story follows a young, talented dancer from the streets of Mumbai to the stages of New York. Excerpts of the film were presented in 2022 during the Dance on Camera Festival’s 50th anniversary celebration as part of the DFA Labs Work in Progress programming.

The series of short and feature-length narrative and documentary films explores geographies, identities, histories, and global cultural issues through the evolving and expanding parameters of dance on film. Films such as Manas Sirakanyan’s documentary feature Top Nine: A Story of the B-Boy Crew, about an internationally renowned break dance crew, and Swedish filmmaker Emil Dam Seidel’s short film SHE, about the exploration of identity, highlight issues and perspectives from diverse regions.

The Dance on Camera Festival will close with a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Flashdance. “Our goal this year is to honor films that push the boundaries of time and memory, so we are thrilled to present Adrian Lyne’s trailblazing dance film, Flashdance,” noted Dance Films Association president and festival co-curator Shawn Bible. “The issues portrayed in the film still resonate in the present day, and the artistry of Lyne’s work continues to inspire dance films, artists, and audiences of today, just as it did during its release 40 years ago in 1983.”

In-person screenings will take place at Film at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (WRT), Francesca Beale Theater (FBT), and Amphitheater (AMPH), as noted below.

Opening Night Program: Global Feature

Call Me Dancer
New York Premiere
Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour, 2023, USA/India, 84m
English and Hindi with English subtitles
Call Me Dancer will take you on a fascinating journey. A true-life fairytale from the streets of Mumbai to the stages of New York, it features Manish, a young and talented street dancer from the City of Dreams, that is Mumbai. His working-class parents depend on their only son’s support. When he accidentally walks into an inner-city dance academy and encounters a curmudgeonly 70-year-old Israeli ballet master, a hunger develops within him. Ambitious and passionate, Manish is determined to make it as a professional dancer, but the odds are stacked against him. A story of struggle and tenacity, family, culture, rebellion, passion, and an unlikely friendship. Call Me Dancer was filmed in India, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and features music by Jay Sean and Anik Khan and a score by award-winning Nainita Desai.

Preceded by

What I Know So Far
New York Premiere
Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, Choreography by Emilie Leriche, 2022, Ireland, 5m
Movement, words, a soliloquy. A keeping-track-of small thoughts and bits of knowledge. A poem, written as a reminder.

Program 2: Innovative Perspectives

New York City Premiere
Bridget Murnane, 2022, USA, 98m
A masterfully made documentary, Bella, is about the life, influence and impact of California-based artist and activist Bella Lewitzky. Described by Walter Terry as “one of the greatest American dancers of our age,” Lewitzky was a talented, strong, outspoken individual who dedicated much of her creative life to fighting censorship in dance and the arts. Designated one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition and awarded the National Medal of Arts, Lewitzky demonstrated how a uniquely Californian artist with vision and tenacity could change the lives of her fellow citizens.

Preceded by

Emil Dam Seidel, 2021, Sweden, 8m
Caught in a room, the protagonist, Clarice, unfolds a vision of her own identity with a mirror interrogator. SHE is a cinematic adaptation of a solo dance performance by the same name. The original work was created and performed by Dorotea Saykaly and premiered at the Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts in Montréal, Quebec in 2019. Inspired by The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector, the solo revolves around identity and doubt. Manifested through movement, distortion, and an interview with a phantom interrogator, the original work proposes looking at a questioning body through a female lens.

Program 3: Global Shorts

Mother Melancholia
New York Premiere
Samantha Shay, 2022, Germany, 30m
Mother Melancholia by Samantha Shay is a multi-layered portrait of four women and a eulogy for the planet. Inspired by Sóley’s album of the same title, it serves as a self-proclaimed soundtrack for the end of the world as we know it. Co-commissioned by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the dance film approaches patriarchal politics and ecofeminism through an unguarded, unsettlingly beautiful meditation on the difficulty and immediacy of being fully present in the world. Filmed in a surreal and eroding Icelandic landscape, Mother Melancholia quietly yet urgently opens a conduit between the internal world of human experience and the planet we inhabit.

The Cell
North American Premiere
Po Cheng Tsai and Meng Hsueh Ho, 2022, Taiwan, 22m
In these post-pandemic times, a bright white light floods the stage and begins to speak: close your eyes, come with me toward the supernormal, let’s go, go to that transcendent space-time jump. Every character is in the dancer, so which one is real? On the verge of disassociation, light leaks into shadow, a new day dawns. Today, which self will go along?

US Premiere
Siobhan Davies, 2022, UK, 35m
Transparent is a gentle manifesto and a visionary work of art. At the heart of the film are the reflections of dancer and choreographer Siobhan Davies as she unravels the complex processes that underpin a life’s work in dance. At the same time, she looks far beyond herself, touching upon the histories of movement embedded in each of us, allowing the watcher to enter a descriptive world and feel the weight of their own body walking or turning or falling. The images in the film echo Davies’s thoughts, showing the physical fluidity and depth of movement between all things. Many of these things are from the art world – from ancient sculpture through modern art and personal photos. The art is both tangible and intangible, and the dancer transforms it into something that can be held and used.

Program 4: Conversation with Directors (Free Public Programming)

Join a group of this year’s filmmakers for a far-reaching panel discussion about their processes for and challenges in making work at the crossroads of dance and film. This will be presented as part of Dance on Camera’s free public programming.

Program 5: Sonic Relationships

Moving Together
World Premiere
Maggie M. Bailey, Arturo R. Jiménez, Ahsjah Exumé, and Christiane Escobar, 2022, USA, 62m
English and Spanish with English subtitles
Moving Together is a joyful dialogue between dancer and musician that brims with kinetic life and energy. This documentary explores the intricate collaboration between dancers and musicians, moving seamlessly between flamenco, modern, and New Orleans second line. The dialogue between featured artists is highlighted in both class and performance spaces, celebrating artmaking, exploration, and the power of community. Artists collaborate with other disciplines consistently, but what pulls them back to specific creators? This feature-length, performative documentary investigates the relationships between Michael Wall, modern dance accompanist and composer, and Jesse Zaritt, dancer and choreographer; Olivia Chacon and Isai Chacon, flamenco dancer and Spanish guitarist, respectively; and New Orleans natives Michelle N. Gibson, cultural ambassador, choreographer, performer, and Thaddeus Ford, sixth-generation trumpet player.

Preceded by

Reminiscences (Réminiscences)
US Premiere
Virginie Brunelle, 2022, Canada, 11m
This sumptuously filmed short brings three sensual and brutal duets to the screen. Three stories overlap to recount memory and what remains of the nostalgic feelings of a union. The choreographies sublimate the cracks that human experience generates that settle in us like so many emotional vestiges.

Empty Vessel
Madison Elliott and Taylor Yocum, 2021, USA, 2m
A film partly inspired by a Post-It note discovered in a bathroom stall: “I used to think being an artist would mean I would be crazy and alone. Now I worry that I will be both of those things but still not an artist.”

New York Premiere
Maria Salgado Llopis and Aleth Berenice, 2022, Luxembourg, 9m
iuSui is a striking ode to the visceral power of beauty, nature, freedom, and the vulnerability of the human psyche. You will be taken on a mysterious and kinesthetic voyage to what might be a very tangible place on earth or the most hidden site within the mind. The film explores concepts of darkness and light, hope and fear, to portray the human condition in all its complexity, vulnerability, and force. Join the female protagonist as she embarks on a journey from dark underwater depths to the clouds above the vast lakes in wild Scandinavian nature.

Program 6: Shorts I: NY Filmmakers

You Left Me Alone
Manhattan Premiere
Lauren Fondren, 2022, USA, 15m
When a crisis forces Erica home to confront her estranged sibling, Marina, she fights to revive their childhood connection, only to find some wounds are too deep to heal.

The Fell Of Dark
New York City Premiere
Marla Phelan, 2022, USA, 3m
In the wake of a tragedy, a chorus of mourners gather to perform a ritual dance of grief. Through waves of interconnected movement, symbolic gestures, and processions, these women, their faces covered by veils of black hair, dance to grieve the loss of a loved one. The Fell of Dark was made in response to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to the opioid crisis and for the families who have been silenced by its stigma.

The Game
New York City Premiere
Pierre Marais and James Kinney, 2022, USA, 4m
Paying homage to classic film noir cinema, The Game brings together an unlikely cast of characters in a midnight game of cat and mouse. In a mysterious abandoned warehouse the story is told through a hybrid of jazz dance styles. Alliances are forged, suspicions are raised, and from the shadows, a player will ultimately take the prize.

The Dance After the Last Dance
New York/East Coast Premiere
Candice Holdorf, 2022, USA, 9m
Grief and loss are viscerally physicalized in The Dance After the Last Dance. This cathartic film explores the healing power of movement, darkness, and private grief.

Suck It Up
New York City Premiere
Baye & Asa, 2022, USA, 12m
Heteronormative advertising campaigns tell men that they are weak, small, balding, and flaccid. These commercial images promise status, offer solutions to inadequacy, and breed entitlement. Men mimic this commercialized masculinity and act out when they are not rewarded. Internalized deficiency creates a culture of resentment and has led to violence. This duet confronts the violent fallout.

I was waiting for the echo of a better day
New York City Premiere
Jeremy Jacob and Pam Tanowitz, 2021, USA, 26m
A stunningly original dance for film, I was waiting for the echo of a better day unfolds from dawn to dusk on a single midsummer day, with dancers in electric blues and yellows weaving through the sumptuous, overgrown landscape of a historic Hudson Valley estate, overlooking the river and the Catskill Mountains. Inspired by the French New Wave, filmmaker Jeremy Jacob has created an intimate reframing of Pam Tanowitz’s angular and sensual choreography, originally developed for a live, outdoor performance at Bard College’s Montgomery Place Campus. The film features the dancers of Tanowitz’s company and music by composer Jessie Montgomery and her ensemble, Big Dog Little Dog.

Program 7: Focus on Culture

Searching for Tarab
North American Premiere
Sandra Gysi and Ahmed Abdel Mohsen, 2022, Switzerland/Egypt, 52m
Laurence Yadi and Nicolas Cantillon from the Geneva-based dance company 7273 go on a research trip to post-revolutionary Cairo to delve into the world of tarab, the Arabic word for the transformative ecstasy evoked by music. As they attempt to translate this Eastern musical concept into Western dance performance, we are given a fascinating glimpse into artmaking in a very different culture, set against a backdrop of tense political reality.

Preceded by

Ghostly Labor: A Dance Film
New York City Premiere
John Jota Leaños and Vanessa Sanchez, 2022, USA, 13m
Spanish with English subtitles
Ghostly Labor: A Dance Film is a powerful and very relevant narration of the history of labor in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands told through tap dance, Mexican zapateado and son jarocho, Afro-Caribbean movement, and music. This documentary dance film brings together polyrhythmic movement and an original score to reveal the ongoing systemic exploitation of invisible labor while highlighting the power and joy of collective work and resistance. Based on migrant farmworker oral histories, the film honors the land and the sacred hands, lives, and families who provide sustenance through hard work and unrecognized knowledge. The project was filmed on Avila Garcia Farms with support from Ayudando Latinos a Soñar (ALAS), a nonprofit advocacy organization for farmworkers in Half Moon Bay, California. A full-length dance theater production of Ghostly Labor will premiere in 2023.

Rooms 居拘
North American Premiere
Elysa Wendi and Liao Jiekai, 2021, Singapore, 17m
Mandarin with English subtitles
For two decades, Albert Tiong has been striving to be a dancer, choreographer, and educator in the field of contemporary dance in Singapore. The film uncovers the rooms, both physical and metaphorical, that Tiong inhabited in the period of growth that brought him to Singapore as a young dancer in his 20s. Through these rooms, and Tiong’s movements, the film creates a meditative portrait of his interior world.

Program 8: Production Grantees (Free Public Programming)

As part of the festival’s free public programming, Production Grantees features recipients of Dance on Camera’s competitive production grants. They will share work in process and invite conversation and feedback from the audience about their processes and outcomes. Bijoyini Chatterjee, our most recent recipient for her film Conference of the Birds, will be featured in this program.

Program 9: Innovative Perspectives II

Living on the Threshold (Habiter Le Seuil)
Vincent Bruno, 2022, France, 29m
French with English subtitles
Marine Chesnais, choreographer and contemporary dancer, goes to Réunion Island to meet humpback whales. Danced improvisations born from these mesmerizing interactions in the big blue will be the fertile ground for her next creation. This movie is a choreographic and hypnotic journey taking us underwater, as we hold our breath, and following in the footsteps of this original project. By showing us the process of encountering a wild animal in its natural habitat, Living on the Threshold asks what is happening within us in a space where we cannot control anything—except our openness to what might happen.

Hans van Manen — Just Dance the Steps
North American Premiere
Willem Aerts, 2022, Netherlands, 53m
Dutch with English subtitles
Hans van Manen’s unstoppable energy is evident in all scenes. Whether he is rehearsing a piece with his dancers, having lunch with the Dutch National Ballet (he gives them ballets), or deciding after 40 years in the same place to move to a very spacious and luxurious apartment, his respectable age is far from getting in the way. Van Manen (born in Nieuwer-Amstel in 1932) is internationally recognized as one of the great masters of contemporary ballet. He has created more than 150 ballets. His works have an unmistakable style, characterized by great clarity of structure and refined simplicity.

Beginning in 1960, Van Manen worked alternately with the two most important dance companies in the Netherlands: for 10 years he was co-artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theater and then he was resident choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet (1973–1987) and Nederlands Dans Theater (1988–2003). Since 2005, he has once again been associated with the Dutch National Ballet as a permanent choreographer.

Program 10: #MYDANCEFILM (Free Public Programming)

MYDANCEFILM: Getting Your Film Out There
Various Artists
Dance filmmakers, fresh and seasoned alike, engaged the public by posting their films to social media. A selection of these bold new dance films from around the globe make up the festival’s #MyDanceFilm Program.

Program 11: Shorts II

Saint Leroi
New York Premiere
Maurya Kerr, 2021, USA, 23m
Saint Leroi is a powerful, multilayered short film by Maurya Kerr about a Black avenging angel who has come down from on high. Amidst the foundational anti-Blackness of America, Saint Leroi posits Blackness as arbiter of justice and punisher of wrongs, thus challenging ideas of who is allowed judgment, vengeance, rapture, and rebirth. Whiteness has been taught that it created and owns everything, but Blackness knows it has the right to possess and inhabit every story, every sovereignty, every creation myth, every destruction, every history, present, and future imaginable. A trenchant indictment of the blood-stained hands of all those—past and present—who know what they’ve done, Saint Leroi is ultimately an expression of belonging, grief, and love.

New York Premiere
Ana Contreras and Keely Song, 2022, USA, 4m
Through animation and dance, Twine explores what it means to dream and create beauty and magic from within. Directed by Ana Contreras and Keely Song, the frame-by-frame animations are playful and wondrous.

to be near you.
New York City Premiere
Ali Kenner Brodsky and Jarret Blinkhorn, 2021, USA, 11m
to be near you. pushes at the boundaries of time to create a feeling of reconnecting with something, or someone, who is gone. Based on a live duet between Ali Kenner Brodsky and Jenna Pollack, to be near you. honors the memory of those we have lost, collapses distance by energizing the spaces in between, and subtly demonstrates how people can find connection through physical separation.

New York Premiere
Early Era Collective, Stephanie Patrick, and Ben Lee, 2021, USA, 4m
Eight Early Era dancers inspect the systems by which we abide, and the sameness required of average people to operate within those systems. To the rhythms of Austin-based hip-hop duo Magna Carda, the artists must decide whether to stay within the boxes that confine them or break free. A unique visual experience featuring ingenious and playful imagery of dancers in their different spaces.

I Fall
New York Premiere
Dan Thorburn, 2022, UK, 11m
Created by Fallen Angels Dance Theatre together with users now in recovery, this visceral short explores the chaos and carnage of heroin addiction. Despite the despair of this twisted love story, hope and recovery are possible.

Future Futures
US Premiere
Brian J. Johnson and Company 605, 2022, Canada, 40m
How do we bring our physical bodies with us into our inevitably digitally-bound futures? Collaboratively conceived by director Brian J. Johnson and Vancouver’s acclaimed Company 605, Future Futures is a collection of five short dance films that explore the digital destiny of humankind through a unique merging of camera and visual effects with a specific choreographic vision. Embracing the absurdity of centering dance inside a sci-fi narrative, the experimental series collapses time to portray human culture at an unprecedented moment: the emergence of a new, autonomous, and intelligent being—the digital reflection and culmination of ourselves. Through its otherworldly imagery, choreography, and driving electronic sound score, Future Futures evolves into a strange, highly visual exploration of what we are if we are no longer tied to our physical bodies, and how we will define humanity when faced with a fading IRL existence.

Program 12: Focus on Form

World Premiere
Manas Sirakanyan, 2022, Russia, 89m
Russian with English subtitles
Top Nine Crew is one of the most famous crews in the world of breaking. Over the 20 years of its history, Top Nine has won many international competitions, including the biggest championship—Battle of the Year—created several theatrical productions, taught generations of students, become style icons, and set an example of what a b-boy crew should be. From the first dance steps to artistic excellence, from small jams to world victories, and from street shows to the big stage, the members of the legendary Top Nine crew tell us their stories with personal immediacy.

Preceded by

North American Premiere
Joan Bernat Pineda, Marta Lorenzi, Isabel De Piero, Yolanda Medina, Cristina Lozano, Carmen Zaragoza, Isabel Bilbao, and Rafel Arnal, 2022, Spain, 4m
With two interwoven expressions of worshipful praise, allahu akbar and te deum, the dance captured by the camera from the collective work of 10 directors gives shape to Sharqi. This maelstrom of dance sharply reflects Mediterranean tradition and contemporaneity through a revisiting of dabke dance: repetitive structure and speed as ornamentation.

Closing Night Feature Program

Adrian Lyne, 1983, USA, 95m
Flashdance, an iconic 1980s dance film celebrating its 40th anniversary, will close the Dance on Camera Festival. Flashdance celebrates powerful women working tirelessly to make their dance dreams a reality. The nightclub stage becomes the artistic outlet where experimental dance performances transcend the audience.

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