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Post La La Land‘s sweep at the Golden Globes – almost always a reliable template for what to expect at the Oscars – and as Sundance prepares to open in Park City with new and as yet unknown adventures in cinema, I thought it fitting to feature Anna, a slightly older Emma Stone dance vehicle from way back in the pre-Trump good ole’ days of 2015.
Choreographed by the visionary enfant terrible of commercial contemporary, Ryan Heffington, Anna is an epic, whimsical, mini-musical on meth that uses the Queen Mary as both location and context and delivers a much less tame (and to me much preferable) dance punch than the recent runaway film hit. Featuring a back up ensemble of rhythmic sailors, with Ryan making a customary appearance on camera as the ship’s Captain and music by Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Emma Stone kills it as a crazed and money hungry, sexed up babe dancing down halls, atop counters and up staircases. No wonder she was ready for her hit dance feature.
What I love about Anna is that it is entirely choreo-centric. With great camera work and frenetic finishing touches that are part of Heffington’s signature movement, the whole short seems to have been created entirely around the dance. And isn’t that how a musical should be? The sweeping shots of sea and the iconic ship shine, the lighting and editing are perfectly in tune with the song and the ample movement in both camera and dance, and it has a sense of joy and pure crazy fun that at once harkens back to classic Hollywood musicals and fast forwards with abandon into the 21st century.
While Anna caught my eye some time ago, it seems more apropos than ever now. Directed by Brantley Gutierrez, shot by Eric Ulbrich, edited by Lauren Sorofman and produced by Kyle Schember for Subractive Inc., please enjoy Anna.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder/Director of Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, Sarah Elgart is a Los Angeles based choreographer and director working under the auspice of Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow. Sarah creates original content for stage, screen, and site-specific venues. Her stage and site-works have been performed at alternative spaces including LAX Airport, The Skirball Center, Mark Taper Forum, Van Nuys Flyaway, The Bradbury Building, Jacob’s Pillow, INSITU Site-Specific Festival NY, and Loft Seven, where she created a rooftop work lit entirely by a hovering helicopter accompanied by Nels Cline (Wilco). Her work has been produced by venues including The Music Center, MASS MoCA, Dance Place, Los Angeles Theater Center, Mark Taper Forum and The International Women’s Theater Festival. In film Sarah has worked with noted directors including JJ Abrams, David Lynch, Catherine Hardwicke, and Anton Corbijn. Her own films include award-winning music videos, dance shorts, and an Emmy nominated PSA, and continue to be accepted into festivals internationally. In addition to teaching dance and film, Sarah writes a regular column, ScreenDance Diaries that focuses on the intersections of both genres internationally for online magazine Cultural Weekly. Sarah’s work has received support from organizations that include the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council and more. She is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Dance Film Lab, a Fellow of AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, and a director member of the DGA.
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