Question of You
Dance is a rigorous enterprise. When in pursuit of excellence in technique or performance, pain and repetition is rote – a dancer learns to live with them. And whether it’s classical contemporary or krumping, Butoh or B’ boying, each plateau reached is met with a new one in its place wherein time, patience, and tremendous persistence are required.
In classical ballet, warm up begins at the barre. A dancer balances with, stretches on, and pulls against it. It’s both friend and foe… The beginning of the pain, the harbinger of exacting detail and specific moves intended to strengthen or increase flexibility in nearly every inch of the body, the gateway to the comparative freedom of center when dance can finally approach flight.
Such is the subject of Question of You, the lovely and telling film by dancer/choreographer/director Charissa Barton. In this short with a little known song of the same title written and performed by Prince, the dancer’s relationship with the barre metaphorically mirrors that of any relationship. Pushing through exacting movement and repetitiveness, through friction and resistance, she searches for a way to stay inspired, a way to keep it fresh. Appropriately, the context mirrored the content of this work. The solo Barton created for this piece – performed entirely in pointe shoes – was so difficult that it could not be done in one take, and had to be broken up sequentially for the shoot. A powerhouse of a dancer, the talented Allison Ulrich was reportedly truly in pain by the end of the long shoot day. But as is the case with any professional dancer, stamina and perseverance demanded that she tackle the fiery movement and get to the end, when she was finally allowed to look back, see the progress she had made, and move on.
Question of You successfully “invokes the flirtation, determination, passion, frustration and ongoing complexity of any intimate relationship”. Strikingly shot in black and white with a three camera set up (two Canon 5D’s and a Ronin) by director of photography Ben Tedesco, and smartly edited by Jeremy Jurin, it is well worth the watch. Enjoy!
[embedvideo id=”132178828″ website=”vimeo”]
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.