Masks are now required in public indoor spaces on the CU Boulder campus regardless of vaccination status. Find out more

Author: Becca Vaclavik

What is dance cinema? A sneak peek of the Sans Souci Festival

CU Presents sat down with Associate Chair of Dance Helanius J. Wilkins to discuss CU Dance’s Sept. 24-25 event “Dancing on the Edge of Cinema: The Sans Souci Festival.

What is “dance cinema”?

I believe that dance cinema is at once emergent, alive and continually evolving. Centering the body/movement, dance cinema is often the result of the merging of a sweeping scope of artistic disciplines integrated to transport artists and audiences into real and imagined worlds to illuminate new perspectives through abstract and human experiences. In this form, dance—and the possibilities for it—is reimagined/investigated/examined through a two-dimensional framing rather than the three-dimensional live performance experience. Dance cinema, for me, offers expanded possibilities for creating magic!

How can artists and audience members approach dance differently in this format than they might in a live event?

To witness and experience dance cinema requires a reorientation of some kind, particularly given the shift from three-dimensional to two-dimensional framing. However, at the core, I believe dance cinema and live dance performance requires similar considerations for engaging/approaching—curiosity, a willingness to be transported, an attention to details/clues, the creation of a portal for manifesting a fully sensory experience.

Sans Souci is a festival that is screened in many different venues at different times. What is unique to our screening?

From the heart space—the Irey screening reconnects Sans Souci to the home where it all began.

From the community space—this screening, a premier event, will be sure to connect long-time supporters/enthusiasts and a dynamic cross-section of our CU population and beyond. In this sense, Sans Souci becomes an anchor for building community and new networks.

From the innovation space—The program truly holds up to its title. It is one that will mix premieres from around the world with live performance works. It will ask us to let go of any perceived notions of what is dance cinema, what is dance even! It is a program with screen dances that will invite viewers to feel, think, question, dream, reflect, reconnect, experience magic.

What is your favorite piece from this season and why?

Fantastic question! I struggle with this question because there have been so many wonderful works screened through Sans Souci since its inception. I am someone who often finds deep connection to works that interrupt what we believe we know; what we think is possible; what causes me to reconsider our human experiences. I feel that through the variety of works making up the program, there will be an access point for anyone/everyone to feel a sense of connection.

What sort of feeling/body experience do you hope audience members will leave the festival with this year? To ask it another way: If you have one wish for audiences, what would it be?

If I had one wish for audience members regarding a feeling/body experience that I hope they will leave the festival with this year, it would be to be inspired and embraced by the power of art/art-making. I cannot help but think about how our lives as we knew it were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how, even in this time, we remain navigating a familiar and not-so-familiar reality. The impact of the pandemic on art-making has been tremendous and what San Souci’s program holds are screen dances and works made by artists who confronted the pandemic perhaps more passionately, inspired, and resilient than ever before.

In “Dancing on the Edge of Cinema,” Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema (SSFDC) screens an eclectic selection of the season’s best dance cinema shorts from around the world. From the highly produced to the highly experimental, these screenings exude technical excellence, dazzling visuals and a stunning experience at the intersection of cinematography and choreography. Learn more about the featured films at sanssoucifestival.org. Tickets to the CU Presents screening in the Irey cost $10 and are available at cupresents.org.