Little Black Train
I’m almost positive I saw this screened years ago at Dance Camera West, but I recently once again came upon the 2015 film Black Train is Coming and was moved anew by the music, the movement, and the total straightforwardness, polish, and lack of pretense of its dancers, ENinja and Joyntz from Turf Feinz of Oakland. While there is no camera movement and the shots are mostly frontal – medium to wide and proscenium in nature – the rawness of the recording of this 1926 song by the Reverend J.M. Gates perfectly matches the gravelly animated quality of the film. I love the way it intertwines both the old and the new, e.g. the distressed look of the location with the coloring and treatment of the film via CG, and the comparative newness of the Flex and Turf dance forms with this old spiritual sermon, one of many by this reverend who was amongst “the most prolific black preachers of the United States.”
According to the liner notes, many of this Reverend’s sermons “were strong warnings of the hellish punishments that awaited sinners: ‘You better set your house in order, for that train might be here tonight.'”
Hallelujah! This film is my kind of punishment.
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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