Third Coast Dance Film Festival
A young female dancer moves fluidly, with motion that could be the work of a professional or could be the movement of a talented amateur dancer. As she moves, the environment around changes through a series of quick edits, through a variety of rural, urban and suburban environments and quickly from day to night and back again. Her movements seem uninterrupted even as the setting around her changes constantly. Likewise, the objects she interacts with change—flowers casually transform into sparklers.
This is the action in Chetek, a dance film by director and choreographer Laura Lamp, and one of the dance films that will be screened at this year’s Third Coast Dance Film Fest.
“It has this feeling of almost magic because she pops up in all these different locations, and she’s doing this movement that looks like she’s a trained dancer, but maybe she’s not,” says festival co-curator Rosie Trump about Chetek. “There’s a naturalistic, almost voyeuristic, feel about it. But it’s very quirky.”
Trump, a University of Nevada, Reno dance professor, founded the festival in 2010 when she lived in Houston. She brought the festival with her when she moved to Reno in 2013 and tickets for last year’s screening at the Nevada Museum of Art sold out. Trump is a dancer, choreographer and filmmaker herself, but none of her work is featured in the Third Coast Dance Film Festival. Instead, she’s one of the three curators for a festival that features films made by choreographers and directors from around the world, including Italy, the UK, Armenia, Brazil, Canada and Jordan.
Dance film is a hybrid artform that combines the physical expressivity of dance with the open-ended storytelling possibilities of film.
“It’s thinking about the camera as another tool for choreography—taking the principles of dance composition and applying that to filmmaking,” said Trump. “I think the possibilities that emerge are really, really exciting.”
Traditional dance performances are usually bound to specific locations, like theater stages. But in dance film, the choreographers and filmmakers can alter colors and locations, and direct viewers’ gazes through cinematography and editing.
“You can shift space and time in a way that you just can’t do onstage,” said Trump. “I think what makes this festival stand apart a little bit is that my definition of dance is much more broad than some,” said Trump. “I think found dance is really interesting. I think pedestrian movement is really interesting.”
This year’s festival includes everything from virtuosic hip-hop dancing to simple folk dances. The short film De Farol presents a panoramic view of an expressive, choreographed game of strip poker.
“A question I get often is, ’What’s the difference between dance film and music video?’” said Trump. “And it’s the foregrounding of the music versus the foregrounding of the movement. But dance has had a relationship with music video since the beginning. Movement has played an important role.”
In addition to its Reno screening, the Third Coast Dance Film Festival will screen in Alabama and Pennsylvania, but Trump is especially excited for the Reno screening.
“It’s great to be back,” she said. “It’s great that the outpouring last year was so wonderful that we’re back. These are films that you will not see anywhere else. … I’m so happy that it can be in Reno because what’s happening is that these film festivals are cropping up all over. Five years ago there were only ones in Los Angeles, New York and North Carolina. Now every major city in the United States has a dance film festival, so we’re right on the curve.”