According to the dictionary, a Chimera is a mythological, fire-breathing monster, commonly represented with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Or, scientifically speaking, an organism composed of two or more genetically distinct tissues … partly male and partly female, or an artificially produced individual having tissues of several species.
While hardly a monster, such is the inspiration for director Steven Briand’s short of the same name that uses editing effects to more or less create a hybrid dance short. Readers may recall Briand’s direction of a beautiful and very different short that I featured in this column some time ago entitled Shunpo. While Chimera’s liner notes in Nowness say that recording artist MIA’s choreographer Cathy Ematchoua “merged three unique movement styles,” it looks like one dynamic contemporary combination that rides the music by Phazz, alternating between sharp, crisp, staccato movement and Limon style releases. The four dancers in the sequence, each beautifully performing the same choreographic sequence, are spliced and reassembled to create a kind of patchwork woman but the dance itself seems homogenous in its composition.
Chimera looks like a vehicle for fashion – and I in fact found it as a recent addition under that category in Nowness – but even the fashion is reassembled, really interestingly, so that it loses its singularity. Given that funding for dance films is not exactly falling from the sky, the fashion may in fact be the vehicle that allowed Chimera to be made in the first place. With beautiful dancers Aliashka Hilsum, Leonore Zurfluh, Hajiba Fahmy, and Dalila Cortes highlighted by a black background, and cinematography by Kaname’ Onoyama, Chimera is fierce and well done.
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.