Once again trolling the ultra hip, fashion/music/art site Nowness, this time given some direction through its maze of films specifically by the site itself, I came upon Casi. Originally entitled First We Take Manhattan, this is a whimsical and inventive gem of a dance film by Director Casey Brooks.
Shot entirely in black and white, using lots of super fast motion with locked down camera angles, Casi tips its hat to old movies in the vein of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as two female dancers – Hillary Pearson and Maria Volpe – take the viewer on a capricious romp and tour of select Manhattan waterfront, parks, and city streets. As the dance, framing, and editing work in tandem with its quirky music (by super cool electronic music maker XXYYXX, aka Marcel Everett) the magic of Casi is that it tweaks the viewer’s eye, inventively directing us to experience the distance, perspective, and scale unique to each site. I love the choreography as it relates to each location, particularly the dance with the umbrella and the semi-naked, four legged, high-heeled walk down a city street and through a grassy park.
Like some of my favorite short dance films, Casi looks as if it was shot on the fly at each location with a very specific idea using movement improvisation, and then – especially in terms of the editing and music – was discovered fully in post production. It’s a smart, gentle, feel good sort of film that makes me want to go out and dance on a street corner for no reason whatsoever.
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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.