Meet the Judges: Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival

Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is heating up… We are so excited to see the inventive submissions coming in. And for all of you who are procrastinating or still trying to get your ducks lined up I have good news. We are extending Dare to Dance in Public’s submission deadline to January 22, 2016. Happy New Year!

Remember, besides getting people out of their homes, studios, offices, and cars, Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival submissions can involve movement that is trained or untrained, polished or raw, and come from professionals or pedestrians.  Films can be shot listed or shot from the hip on an HD cam, an iPhone or anything in between.  We want to see it all.  If it’s dance and it’s happening in public… bring it.


Before I show you this week’s ScreenDance Diaries selection, “Walking Contest,” I want to take a moment to profile Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival’s amazing panel of judges who represent internationally known professionals from the worlds of both dance and film. Whether you are a filmmaker, choreographer, or dancer, these are people you want to get your work in front of.

Valerie Faris: Valerie Faris and her husband and directing partner Jonathan Dayton met at UCLA where she was originally a dance major. They began their careers by co-directing the MTV show, “The Cutting Edge.” They continued to work in music television, directing videos and documentaries for artists including REM, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, The Smashing Pumpkins, Macy Gray, Oasis, Weezer and The Ramones. In 1998, they co-founded Bob Industries, where they have directed high profile television ads for VW, Sony Playstation, Gap, Target, Ikea, Apple and ESPN, among many others. They made their feature film directorial debut with Little Miss Sunshine in 2006. Their second film, Ruby Sparks starring Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan came out in 2012.

d. Sablea grimes, a 2014 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow, is a choreographer, writer, composer and educator whose multi-disciplinary performance work and pedagogical approach reveal a vested interest in the physical and meta-physical efficacies of Afro-diasporic cultural practices.  His AfroFuturistic dance theater projects like World War WhatEver40 Acres & A Microchip, BulletProof Deli, and ELECTROGYNOUS, consider invisibilized histories and grapple with constructed notions of masculinity and manhood while conceiving a womynist consciousness.  He created and continues to cultivate a movement system called Funkamentals that focuses on the methodical dance training and community building elements evident in Black vernacular and Street dance forms. Previously, grimes co-authored and performed as a principal dancer in Rennie Harris Puremovement’s award-winning Rome & Jewels. An Assistant Professor at University of Southern California, grimes received a BA in English and MFA in dance from the University of California, Los Angeles.

d. Sabela grimes
d. Sabela grimes
Julie McDonald
Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald is co-owner of McDonald Selznick Associates (MSA). She is a pioneer in the field of dance and choreography representation, having formed the first talent agency in 1985 devoted exclusively to dance.   While breaking ground by representing her clients across all mediums of entertainment, she became an advocate for better terms and working conditions for dancers and choreographers and devoted herself to raising the visibility of the art and craft of commercial dance. In 2000 she and Tony Selznick formed McDonald Selznick Associates. (MSA). Their clients represent a who’s who in the world of dance and have been nominated for or have won numerous Emmy, Tony, and MTV awards.  MSA clients have directed and/or choreographed Las Vegas spectacles, Broadway productions, television prime time dramas and sitcoms, every awards show including the Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar Awards, and numerous films spanning the past three decades.

Since moving to LA in 2005 Tony Testa has choreographed for Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Toyota, Versace, Disney, Nickelodeon, & for MJ on his final project “THIS IS IT.”  As a Creative Director he’s worked for The Voice UK, 1 Direction (on SNL) Kylie Minogue (Aphrodite World Tour), and for Nikki Minaj & David Guetta (AMAs). Aside from the pop industry he is passionate about exploring activism thru his art.  His recent performances at the LACMA museum & at TEDx were to raise awareness about the effects of over-fishing.  You can find Tony and his work at

Tony Testa
Tony Testa

Finally, there is yours truly. I will moderate the panel and participate in judging.  You can read my bio and see who I am below.

We are thrilled to welcome this distinguished panel of judges!  We so look forward to hearing their astute insights and aesthetic acumen. A huge thanks to them all for their time.

And last but by no means least, I want to extend a very special thanks to the amazing, incredibly accomplished, Emmy Award winning choreographer and  sheer force of nature, Anita Mann for her donation to Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival towards the awards for winning filmmakers.  Thank you so much Anita!

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Twyla Tharp said the following about dance: “Often people come to me and say ‘I know nothing whatsoever about dance’ and I’ll say ‘Stop right there, you got up you walked over, you’re already an expert’. All movement is in fact dance… Anyone who wishes to train an eye or become more sensitive to their own bodies in movement just look about them and they will see dancing.”

So in the spirit of these words and of finding the dance in public and the dance in the every day, we offer this beautiful short, “Walking Contest,” directed by Vania Heymann.

Now go out and make or find some dance in public.  We dare you to!

Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is still seeking support and sponsorship. If interested please contact: for further information.

To submit your entry for the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, please click this Submittable button.

Top image: Photo from Casi by Casey Brooks.

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