Two of Los Angeles’ foremost cultural organizations—the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts—have teamed up with Chicago’s Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater to launch Films.Dance, a groundbreaking new global free film series produced by and under the creative direction of LA-based Jacob Jonas The Company. Films.Dance is being made available to the public at no charge.
One of the most ambitious international dance film projects ever undertaken, Films.Dance engages more than 150 artists from 52 cities in 25 countries, culminating in 15 short films that have been shot during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through non-traditional collaborations across cultures and continents, and led by the vision of Jacob Jonas, the series connects the perspectives of diverse artists from a range of disciplines, dance genres, abilities, and experiences. Filmed in locations ranging from Amsterdam, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, and London, to Los Angeles, New York, Nigeria, and Spain—Films.Dance exists at the intersection of dance, music, fashion, and film.
“Our goals are to create a global arts community, to elevate the power of dance through non-traditional collaborations and to engage digital audiences in innovative ways,” said Jacob Jonas, Executive Producer of Films.Dance. “The diversity of the artists and their explorations has fostered new ways of thinking and has allowed the formation of deep relationships across physical borders. I look forward to launching this series worldwide.”
Beginning January 25, 2021, and each Monday following for 15 weeks, one film will premiere for free at 9 a.m. PST on the Web at Films.Dance, on Instagram on the @films.dance account, and the Films.Dance Facebook page. A series of weekly conversations and engagement events is in development and will allow for deeper exploration of the series themes, creative process, and perspectives of collaborating artists.
The initiative is presented in partnership with Somewhere Magazine, and co-presented by the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts/CSUN.
“Films.Dance is an extraordinary and ambitious project that comes at a unique time for our culture as we seek connection with others yet continue to remain apart,” said Thor Steingraber, Executive Director of The Soraya. “This presenting partnership—The Wallis, Chicago’s Harris Theater, and The Soraya—all working together to support LA’s own Jacob Jonas The Company is a most welcome first for us all. The Soraya stands at the forefront of diversity and innovation in the arts in Los Angeles, and Films.Dance continues our commitment to original online content that not only supports LA artists but also brings a focus to the global work of artists who have appeared on our stage including percussionist Antonio Sánchez and dancers Lloyd Knight and Xin Ying from Martha Graham Dance Company.”
“Jacob Jonas The Company has been carving out a unique place in the dance world landscape, since the company was formed just seven years ago,” said Paul Crewes, Artistic Director of The Wallis. “The Wallis has championed Jacob, his company and its forward trajectory for nearly as long, having showcased its work on both of our stages several times, co-presented a festival of dance on the end of Santa Monica Pier, as well as engaged him as our 2018-19 Company-in-Residence. With Films.Dance, The Company further pushes artistic boundaries, expanding its mission of tackling complex societal and environmental issues and addressing interpersonal relationships in a novel way that embraces, empowers, and uplifts dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers and filmmakers around the globe. The Wallis is proud to support this remarkable project and honored to be working alongside The Soraya and The Harris to present this work.”
“From the first conversation with the creative team, we were drawn to the project’s collaborative spirit and ambitious, global scope – things we embrace as a presenter,” said Lori Dimun, President and CEO of the Harris Theater. “Films.Dance has also allowed us to challenge our assumptions about how art is created and shared, and to establish new partnerships – our first with JJTC, The Soraya, and The Wallis. We are excited by the opportunity to think beyond our physical space, to be transported by the diverse collective of artists to the places they live and work, and to share these extraordinary films as a community that transcends genre, geography, and language.”
The project commences with the premiere of Kaduna. Self-taught dancers and brothers Victory and Marvel Ebinum explore familial bonds in their native Nigeria, set to original choreography by New York City-based Vinson Fraley, a member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, featuring an original score by Los Angeles-based composer Anibal Sandoval, and co-directed by Ridwan Adeniyi, member of the Nigeria-based Critics Company, and Jacob Jonas.
A sampling of additional films includes:
New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns performs new choreography by Andrea Miller (founder of GALLIM) at the East River Park Amphitheater in Another Serious Dance Film directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (directors of the new Netflix film Project Power, featuring Jamie Foxx) to an original score from five-time Grammy Award-winning composer Antonio Sánchez.
Gypsy Snider, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of The 7 Fingers, choreographs an original work for Li Kehua (Lico), dancer with BeijingDance/LDTX company, in 正念 Now directed by Shanghai based Robin Mahieux, featuring original music composed by Rosie Lowe, singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist based in London.
Desmond Richardson, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, dances a new work choreographed by Jacob Jonas in Edging Normal, directed by Andre Bato, with music co-composed by Steve Hackman and Dave Koz, nine-time Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist.
21 acrobats from around the world- from Australia to the United States to Russia- filmed their unique movement styles, which were then layered with animation to create Plume. Co-directed by Francisco Cruz and Beren D’Amico, the film features three-time Grammy Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn performing an original score by Gaelynn Lea, an American folk singer, violinist, public speaker, and disability advocate from Duluth, Minnesota, with arrangement by Steve Hackman.
Montreal-based filmmaker Vincent René-Lortie directs seven-year-old Krumper Adeline Kerry Cruz in Sit Still, featuring choreography by Russell “Gutta” Ferguson and an original score by Brady Kendall of Alaskan Tapes.