By Sarah O’Connell
This article was originally published in Issue 7, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (December 10, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.
In just 48 hours, it seems almost impossible to film and edit an entire Screendance Festival film. It seems even more impossible to create one that would be worthy of receiving the Best Film Award. This year, the Screendance film “Tabloid,” directed by sophomore Tyler Sherman, choreographed by senior Marla Wolfinger and produced by sophomore Dakota Reinike, did the seemingly impossible.
The weekend of Nov. 20 to 22, 87 dance and TV/film majors collaborated to create seven original Screendance films in just 48 hours. Filming began on that Friday at 4 p.m., and the final piece had to be complete by Sunday at 4 p.m.
“Screendance” is dance that has been choreographed specifically for the on-camera environment. It is a hybrid art form, combining the best elements of cinematography and dance choreography. Each of this year’s films showcased how visually striking and beautiful a creative fusion of dance and film can be, especially the winning film.
This year featured various films such as the intense “Stages” and upbeat “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” as well as more somber and serious films like “Brink,” “Pretending,” “Apex” and “Detached Ambitions.”
Each team tries to create as concrete and developed idea as possible before filming weekend, unsurprisingly, because it would be difficult to complete the film in the time allotted otherwise. However, the “Tabloid” team showed their ability to collaborate, listen to each other’s ideas and be flexible and versatile. Sherman, the director, decided to trust his gut and change the entire concept of the film last-minute.
“Going into this year, my idea for a Screendance film was far different than what we ended up making,” he said. “Marla and the upperclassman dancers pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, and I couldn’t be happier that they did.”
His risky decision to scrap the original idea may have been what landed the team the winning spot.
The Screendance participants receive a prop on the first day of filming, which they must attempt to craft seamlessly into their piece. This year’s prop was a copy of The Morning Call from that day, and the films featured used this prop in a variety of ways. The incorporation of the prop in “Tabloid” was particularly remarkable and the most creatively implemented. They truly made an effort to build the film around the prop, and the prop was also creatively referenced in their title.
The headlines of the newspaper were projected onto the stage where the dancers were performing. The dancers (Violet Hartman, Briana Korn, Becca Mann, Jackie McCreavy, Mary Kate Selby and Jaclyn Yerkes) wore tight skin-colored outfits so that the headlines were projected on their own bodies. The projection ampli ed the choreography and made the whole piece visually striking on the screen.
Even under the pressure of the weekend, it was clear that the team’s creativity remained intact.
“I think I speak for all the TV/film majors on our crew when I say this project really made us think outside the box for the best possible reasons,” Sherman said.
Each year, the festival has a one-word theme that is used as a starting point in the making of each film. This year, the word was “threshold.” According to Sherman, “Tabloid” was “a commentary on how the media often unfairly targets individuals by manipulating the society that surrounds them.”
There is no doubt that the weekend is stressful for TV/film and dance majors alike, but that does not overshadow their love for Screendance Festival. Mary Kate Selby, the dancer in “Tabloid” who portrayed the individual in uenced by the media, said that the weekend, despite the hectic schedule and the stress, is one of her favorite weekends of the semester.
“I love it because it allows our performing arts programs to join up and combine our art forms,” she said. “It is awesome to see what the TV/film majors can do with our choreography. It brings a whole new light to our dancing and gives it a different perspective.”
Each and every film created in this year’s Screendance Festival were remarkable and of the utmost quality. The passion and creativity of everyone who helped to create “Tabloid” in particular was evident from the work that they created.