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STEPPING OUT Jackson Hole News & Guide

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Films Find Real in the Surreal


Who: Director Carrie Noel; choreographer Kate W. Kosharek What: Dance Film Showcase When: Shown daily through June 15; reception 5 to 7 p.m. Friday Where: ArtSpace Main Gallery, Art Association, Center for the Arts How much: Free By Katy Niner Individual ingredients seem familiar: five women in snow pants, hats, gloves, goggles; a wintry alpine setting with snow falling and piled high. But when the women start dancing, and movement mixes the elements on camera, the scene becomes surreal. Its a new way of seeing modern dance. Winter Migration is one of three short films in the Dance Film Showcase by Jackson filmmaker Carrie Noel. The showcase opens Friday with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Art Associations ArtSpace Gallery. The reception ends in time for Noels rehearsal dinner she is getting married Saturday. The films will play on a loop through June 15 during gallery hours. The gallery staging will accentuate the surreal by recreating the living room setting of another film, Blues Not The Word. Viewers will sit on the same couch the dancer cavo rts on, with the same empty red picture frames on the wall. The three films explore the emerging genre, Dance on Camera, through the direction of Carrie Noel and, in the case of Winter Migration and Blues Not The Word , the choreography of Kate W. Koshar ek. The pair recently formed their own production company, Hole Dance Films. Everybody knows how to watch a movie, Kosharek said. Not everybody knows how to go to a modern dance concert and interpret what they are seeing. In their films, the camera becomes an interpreter. We work really hard to incorporate a narrative and help people watch dance and show them how to read it, Noel said. It allows the audience to watch a dance piece in a way that you cannot do on stage. Each artist brings experience f rom outside Jackson. A dancer herself, Noel pursued her Master of Fine Arts in cinema from San Francisco State University. Now, she works for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Before joining Dancers Workshop, Kosharek performed with a site -specific dance company in Milwaukee. Because the company performed in unconventional settings warehouses, empty swimming pools, museums seating an audience always posed a challenge. Sometimes, the company had to revert to a traditional stage format. Choreographing for the camera freed Kosharek of seating hurdles and allowed her to fully embrace the threedimensionality of dance. You can take them on a journey to places they recognize, which makes the dance more relatable, Noel said. On a snowy, sub-zero weekend in February, they filmed Winter Migration in the web of trails at the base of Teton Pass. At one point, the camera froze. The five dancers Margaret Breffeilh, Heather Best, Jennifer Walker, Erin Roy and Kosharek hung puffy jackets on a drying rack. The film merges the two Jackson worlds of art and extreme sports. Its score, composed by Koshareks brother, Joe Westerlund, accentuates the harsh beauty of the environment. Pre-snow, Kosharek led studio rehearsals, which Noel observed, even filling in for absent dancers, and filmed for angle study. Moving the choreography outdoors required adjustments. Thats the beauty of working in different environments: it informs the choreography and the movement, Kosharek said. It was an organic transition from studio to snow. The 7-minute film recently placed in the top 11 of the second Wyoming Short Film Contest. Noel recruited film-school friend Natalie Newman as the cinematographer. She shoots live traffic reports for a TV station in Oakland, Calif., and also filmed the third film in the showcase, The Bird Has Flown, which debuted at last years Jackson Hole Film Festival. To maximize Newmans time in Jackson, they filmed both movies in one weekend. Blues Not the Word stars a woman Kosharek and her television. Edited as jump cuts, the 3-minute film spotlights the womans TV-induced moods. An array of outfits suggest a sweep of time. For dance to tell a story without words, movements must be overexaggerated. We explore the characters

through movement before we even talk about them, Noel said. As that movement comes out, they get quirkier and quirkier because you are talking about them through movement even before you talk about their personality or name. The physical hyperbole allows the audience to adjust to a world without dialogue. It makes more sense in a surreal environment to have them [moving instead of talking], as compared to a realistic setting where people suddenly start dancing, Noel said. It helps the audience accept it. Noel and Kosharek are already working on their next film on needing less. Its the first time Ive really been moved to comment on world event through dance, Noel said. Seeking grant funds, they hope to employ Jackson artists affected by the recession.