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Author: Jill Kimball

CU Theatre & Dance season opens with dance-themed film festival

The university teams up with a film festival for screenings, panels and live performances.

The University of Colorado’s Department of Theatre & Dance begins its 2017-18 season with a weekend of onscreen dance from all over the world.

On Sept. 22-24, CU’s dance division teams up with the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema to present [UN]W.R.A.P.: Dance Cinema, a three-day showcase of dance in film, with live performances, film screenings and interactive panels open to the public.

Not sure what dance cinema, sometimes called “screendance,” is all about? Not educated in the subjects of film or 21st-century dance? No problem, says Theatre & Dance Chair Erika Randall.

“I think screendance is a wonderful gateway drug to contemporary dance,” Randall says. “Its two-dimensional form is easily transportable and can bring dance from far-flung places on the planet to audiences right here in Boulder. As a screendance creator myself, I am thrilled to bring this art into focus.”

The festival has two programs of short films lined up, and audiences have two chances to see each of them. Both programs feature Thomas Freundlich’s “Cold Storage,” a wacky but touching homage to the silent film era. In it, a lonely arctic fisherman discovers his prehistoric counterpart frozen in the ice, thaws him out and begins a beautiful friendship.

“Common themes arose in this year’s offerings—dances about bromance, the pink tinting of worlds to create hyper-lush realities, and gravel—lots and lots of gravel,” Randall says, laughing. “It’s interesting to see what visual trends pop up across the globe.”

Another festival highlight is the world premiere of “Wild-er-ness,” a live multimedia work crafted by CU MFA alumna Ana Baer and featuring dancers Michelle Nance and Heike Salzer. Baer’s creation, set against the backdrop of England’s picturesque North York Moors, merges the worlds of dance, video, music and fashion design.

On top of the 17 short films lined up for screening in the Irey Theatre, audiences can also check out 10 film installations in the space before the show, at intermission and afterward.

“We encourage the audience to watch specific films selected for installation by engaging with them on a one-on-one basis,” says Michelle Bernier, director of the Sans Souci Festival. “We set up several projectors and screens throughout the lobby and theatre, at various sizes and angles, with headphones so that each exhibited film can be witnessed in an up-close-and-personal way.”

Bernier says Sans Souci was founded in 2003 by CU faculty and alumni and prides itself in giving wider audiences access to international dance film they might not otherwise see. Bernier thinks this year’s submissions were the best yet; perhaps because of this year’s collaboration with the Department of Theatre & Dance, there was a strong showing from CU alumni, including Baer, Joy French and Olivia Dwyer.

Whether you’re a dance insider, a film buff or just a curious community member, Randall insists there’s something for you here.

“The films range from the highly-funded, ‘slicker’ produced international films to films made in our own backyard that use real-time lighting elements as part of the ‘edit,’” Randall says. “Dance is at the center of most of these films, but they’re just as often about nature, cultural connections or relationships—things everyone can relate to.”