Collaboration is key when it comes to the 10th annual Dance-a-lorus program kicking off Wilmington’s independent film festival, Cucalorus, which turns 22 in 2016. Opening the festivities on November 9 at Thalian Hall, Dance-a-lorus synthesizes both film and dance in visually stunning performances. The one-of-a-kind stage event is made possible by Dance-a-lorus coordinator Kristen Brogdon, Cucalorus executive director Dan Brawley, and long-time collaborator, The Dance Cooperative, among many others.
“Dance-a-lorus began as a collaboration between the Dance Cooperative and Cucalorus over 12 years ago during a conversation between cooperative member Susanne Palmer and Dan Brawley,” Samantha Williams of Dance Cooperative states.
“Dance Cooperative are the ones who pull the printed program together and help provide feedback for other choreographers as they’re preparing for the audition process,” Brodgon adds. “They are a great resource for choreographers in Wilmington who are interested in creating new works.”
Over the last two years, Brogdon has served as coordinator for the event and has loved working with both filmmakers and choreographers to create one seamless work of art. The level of collaboration between the choreographers and filmmakers continues to astound Brogdon. “As far as we know, it is the only multi-performer dance and film festival event that is happening anywhere right now,” she tells. Therefore, preparation for it begins relatively early in the year so filmmakers and choreographers can prepare their pieces for audition. Choreographers and filmmakers have until the end of July to let Brogdon and Brawley know if they plan on participating, and the deadline for submissions is usually in the fall.
“For the past couple of years we have been accepting auditions either in person or by video,” Brogdon states. “So, people can send us either a video link of the dance and the film separately or together. We also hold in-person auditions at Kenan Auditorium on UNCW’s campus.”
Video submissions are due a week before live auditions to ensure the panel of judges have a chance to review every audition together. They discuss the pieces and determine if there are any aspects missing from the show. If there are, Brogdon and Brawley seek out other film and dance groups outside of Wilmington who may not have heard about their auditions. Cucalorus provides opportunity for the auteurs and dancers find each other, too.
“[It’s] either by word of mouth, seeing a filmmaker’s work at the festival in previous years, or meeting at a Cucalorus function,” Williams explains.
According to Williams, Brawley and the coordinators of Cucalorus keep a list of interested filmmakers along with a sample of their works for choreographers to review. The Dance Cooperative and Cucalorus also hold mixers and gatherings throughout the year to bring interested parties together. Even film students from UNCW participate.
“Every pair works in a different manner,” Williams says. “Most often, the choreographer has an idea, a phrase, or a song in mind and has begun to choreograph when [matched with] a filmmaker.”
While Dance-a-lorus coordinators never ask for submissions to follow a particular theme, sometimes trends and current events play a part in the messages. Many pieces in last year’s event portrayed stories of social injustices, giving the show a powerful feel. This year Brogdon has noticed pieces vary more among the nine dances and films shown.
“The program is heavily focused on contemporary dance,” she tells. “However, the last piece on the program has a club dance influence. The piece that’s opening the program has a lot of jazz and musical theatre influences. So, there will be a variety of styles throughout the evening, but with a modern and contemporary focus.”
This year, the program opens with “Spectacular Spooktacular” by filmmaker Patrick Ogelvie and choreographer Linda Ann Webb. The performance features zombies and ghouls dancing through a funhouse-style labyrinth of twisted shapes, textures and illusions.
“Some pieces will follow a more structured story, such as Qaadir Hick’s ‘The Apple of My Impurity’ and Nancy Prodrasky Carson’s ‘The Anniversary Dinner’,” Williams adds. “Linda and Patrick’s ‘Spectacular Spooktacular’ and Mirla Christe’s ‘Stream’ have loose plot lines that will evoke some of the choreographer’s ideas but will also leave room for interpretation. Rachael Crawford Goolsby’s work ‘Seafarer’ will be more on the abstract side, carrying a strong theme but loose story line. Just like snowflakes, no two pieces are the same.”
Dance-a-lorus begins at 7 p.m. and although all-access Pegasorus passes to Cucalorus are sold out, individual tickets are available for $20 at www.cucalorus.org.