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52nd Dance on Camera Festival highlights dance innovators

Tene Ward and other members of the corps de ballet, from Chelsea McMullan's documentary, 'Swan Song'.
Tene Ward and other members of the corps de ballet, from Chelsea McMullan's documentary, 'Swan Song'.

Dance on Camera and Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) presents the 52nd edition of the Dance on Camera Festival from February 9-12. The four-day festival features 11 programs with a total of 36 films selected from countries around the globe, including eight world premieres, five North American premieres, two U.S. premieres and more than 10 New York premieres. Dance on Camera Festival, the longest-running dance film festival in the world, takes place at FLC with programming organized by the nonprofit organization, Dance on Camera.

“The 52nd Dance on Camera Festival invites New York audiences to traverse a rich, international tapestry of dance films that transcend time, style and form while celebrating innovative artists and stories,” said co-curator Michael Trusnovec. “We’re thrilled to share classical grace alongside the vitality of contemporary expression with all those who seek the beauty of dance, old and new.”

The festival opens with Chelsea McMullan’s cinéma vérité-driven feature documentary, Swan Song. Executive produced by Neve Campbell, the film immerses viewers in The National Ballet of Canada’s 2022 production of Swan Lake, which is being directed for the first time by the company’s artistic director and iconic ballerina, Karen Kain, on the eve of her retirement. “I’m honored to have Swan Song presented at the opening night of the longest-running dance film festival’s 52nd year,” said McMullan. “The festival is a testament to the universal allure of this enduring art form and the work of dance innovators, such as Kain. I’m excited to bring my documentary feature to dance film enthusiasts of New York.” A Q&A with filmmakers will take place immediately following the screening. 

The series of short- and feature-length narrative and documentary films also aims to spotlight the interplay between dance, technology and filmmaking techniques, while also including a more playful theme that runs in many of the projects. Additionally, Ten Times Better includes a partnership screening with the New York Public Library. “For this year’s festival, it was imperative to the curation team to include visually striking films, such as Violent Textures of Nature by Matthew Strasburger, which draws on intriguing color techniques, skewed environments and their inhabitants, and a trancelike sound score,” noted Dance on Camera President and Festival Co-Curator Shawn Bible. “This year, we included more humor dispersed throughout the programs that can be found in films like At the Bathhouse, by Emmy Award-winning director, choreographer and educator Al Blackstone, whose credits also include choreography for So You Think You Can Dance.”  

The Dance on Camera Festival will close with the documentary feature Obsessed with Light from filmmakers Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum. The film unfolds the work and astonishing influence of early-20th century performer Loïe Fuller, whose dance and theatrical lighting techniques have inspired the work of contemporary luminaries such as Taylor Swift, Shakira, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bill T. Jones, among others.

Co-curator Cara Hagan noted, “We are thrilled to close the festival with a celebration of dance trailblazer Löie Fuller. Obsessed with Light encapsulates the goals we put forth to honor how innovators of the past have shaped the art we enjoy today and how they continue to inspire artists of the future, creating a seamless connection between the elegance of classical forms and the dynamic energy of modern creativity.”

The interactive competition #mydancefilm also returns to the 2024 Dance on Camera Festival and showcases submissions from filmmakers worldwide. It will be available to the public at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on February 11, as part of the festival’s free public programming. Additional details can be found at dancefilms.org.

Tickets for the 2024 Dance on Camera Festival are now on sale.

For additional information regarding the festival, visit Film at Lincoln Center at filmlinc.org and Dance On Camera at dancefilms.org, and follow them on social media: @filmlinc and @dancefilms.

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