We Came to Dance
In my virgin entry of “ScreenDance Diaries” at Cultural Weekly from more than two years ago, I opened with a feature about Bat Sheva’s stunning short, Home Alone, and wrote as follows: “Dance is a life force that lives in all of us. Like our instinct to crawl or speak, and our desire to fly, we are born hardwired to move to music and rhythm, be it internal or external, in a way that is, just is, dance…Dance is bursting from cracks in the sidewalk, infiltrating everyday life, and claiming its place in popular culture.”
I feel that way more than ever and I’m not alone. We Came to Dance speaks of this life force that is dance, and illustrates it whimsically and beautifully. With voiceover and graphics driving its point, We Came to Dance is perhaps more treatise than dance short, but it’s a treatise with movement to back it up. From its opening frames wherein we see what is presumably a fetus in utero and soon hear the words We were born in motion, it goes on to explore the thin line between walking and dancing, right and wrong, suggesting that social constructions would squelch our instinct to move with abandon. With its integration of lyrical, salsa, street dance, and more, and the pitting of movers against traffic and ordinary pedestrians, We Came to Dance inherently questions the unspoken concept that normal people don’t dance in public. I especially love the passage featuring a guy doing a sidewinder walk across the street on all fours in front of a line of waiting cars.
Do we dare to dance in public? Yes, yes, we do!
Beautifully directed by Kevin Arbouet with great cinematography by Noah Yuan-Vogel, and featuring wonderful dance by Mackenzie Amara, Asha, Tasha Blank, Akil Davis, Harrison Holmes, Jonathan Janis, Jeezy, Tash Kouri, Elliott LaRue, Poppy Liu, Ptah, Kate Rubens, Helen Tocci, and Marlon Williams this winning short has a slick documentary feel, employing varying edits speeds, and zooms in and out, as it finds the pulse of movement on the street, in clubs, and elsewhere.
More than anything We Came to Dance is an uplifting declaration of the essential component of dance in life, using media as its messenger. Its meant to remind us of our need to get back in touch with this fundamental and I think essential part of who we are as human beings, a part that can unite rather than divide. Rhythm can rewire our lives if we let it, claims We Came to Dance, urging us to return to the dance floor and rediscover the beat that goes straight to our bones. And as per the liner notes on YouTube, Everything we need is already inside us, just waiting to be moved.
And I hope you are. Enjoy.
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.