As we approach the 16th Annual Dance Camera West Film Festival (DCW) here in Los Angeles, I find myself thinking back to events, the trajectory of singular films, and the style of dance films that have premiered there over the years and about which I often write. And while dance has emerged as a mainstay in film, commercials, and popular culture, it occurs to me that there is a distinct difference in look, tone, and feel between films made seemingly for purely exploratory artistic reasons, and ones that aspire to more commercial realms, and that I love both.

And then it occurs to me that there are directors and choreographers that can swing from one “genre” of dance film to the other beautifully.

Four dancers play with gravity in CONTACT
Four dancers play with gravity in CONTACT

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One such director, who was featured more than once at DCW and who as I have often said also becomes a choreographer in the editing room, is Dominique Palomobo, and from time to time I peruse his website for new offerings. But today I found an old film that I somehow looked at with new eyes. As is typical of most Palombo’s dance films, CONTACT selects a couple of locations and is shot mostly with locked down camera.

But in this short the black and white color, the fluctuating lighting, the editing and moments of movement highlighted with super slow motion in which we catch dancers flying and/or colliding, make it completely singular and give it the look of an experimental dance film exceedingly well done. The editing and placement of the dancers is really site-specific and architectural and as per his usual wont plays with depth of field.  And while Palombo has gone on to do much more high-end fashion and product short films and commercials using dance, CONTACT really has the look and feel of a more experimental film.

CONTACT features gorgeous dance by Alexandra Fichman, Gaelle Henry, Stephanie Els, and Julien Andrey, a haunting score by Murcof (Martes – Mapa) and was shot by Raoul Rodriguez.  And stand by for an upcoming article on the 16th Annual Dance Camera West Film Festival coming up later this month (April 20-23, 29-30).

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