Students from CAT’s Professional Filmmaking program have been busy shooting a video for this Kelowna-based dance initiative.
For this week’s blog we speak to Melissa Sorge of The Body Project and Victor Poirier, CAT Digital Filmmaking Department Head (as well as some of the students involved) about the recent collaboration.
CAT: Melissa, can you tell us a little bit about The Body Project?
Melissa: The Body Project is a post secondary contemporary dance education program that focuses on the health of the whole dancer. The program was created by myself and Manuel Sorge in 2019 for serious dancers looking to expand their dance education beyond the studio level, giving them the space where they could explore personal artistry, mature their dancing and be free to express their individuality in a positive, supportive environment.
The program not only gives students the start of a strong foundation in contemporary dance, but also teaches them about their own well-being of body, mind and spirit- how to proceed into their future with a healthy outlook on life and dance, helping dancers enhance their inner light which allows for vast expansion in all areas of their life, especially in their artistic expression and creation.
Connecting dancers to local health and wellness professionals through educational classes we hold increases both the dancers knowledge of their body while building positive relationships with our community.
We are passionate about creating a wider, more inclusive dance community in the Okanagan where dancers can stay after they graduate high school to explore their artistry instead of having to leave the community to study elsewhere. Educating our students about how to take care of themselves and helping them tap into deep self love while learning the technical skills they need as a dancer will inevitably help to create a future of strong dancers and dance educators.
The Body Project also aims to reach beyond just dancers and connect with people from all over our community. Dance is for everyone and we feel it is important to create opportunities for anyone from our community to experience and appreciate dance. This is why community outreach work is so important to us.
Educating our students about how to take care of themselves and helping them tap into deep self love while learning the technical skills they need as a dancer will inevitably help to create a future of strong dancers and dance educators.”
Melissa Sorge, The Body Project
CAT: How did this particular dance project come about?
Melissa: We had planned to do a simple dance on film project with our students along with a final stage performance; however, our first season ended up being a little bit crazier than expected with all the restrictions we have faced. Our stage performance ended up not being possible so we started looking at creating a bigger dance on film project for the students.
Film is not something any of them had worked in before so we felt that this would be a great opportunity to try something new. The film project is something we will now do every year as it was such a positive experience and great learning opportunity for all involved.
CAT: How did CAT get involved?
Victor: Melissa from the Body Project approached me just as Covid hit last year, and we were forced to hold off on implementing the partnership until this past April.
Melissa: We had no budget to create a film so we started looking for a student or recent graduate that may be wanting to build their portfolio. We connected with CAT and Victor thought this would be a great project for his classes. So it ended up being a win win situation for everyone involved where our students and CAT’s students were learning together.
We are so happy that we have created this relationship with CAT. Everyone was so professional and focused on what our vision was and we are looking forward to making this a yearly project with them.
Working with CAT was a great collaborative experience. Everyone had a voice and each of our individual ideas and opinions were considered when creating the film. In the process of filming we were able to try out a lot of these ideas, and it was a very supportive environment.”
Mackenzie Friesen, Dancer
CAT: What is the overarching concept behind the dance project video?
Melissa : The dance film comes from a Rumi quote “The wound is where the light enters you”. Basically we wanted to express the idea that whenever there is something traumatic or difficult that you experience in your life, there is always a reason behind it. The trauma eventually lets more light in and helps your soul expand and pushes you more towards your purpose in life.
The idea for our whole program came to us as a result of past traumatic events we experienced as a family. Our traumas have pushed us towards our purpose. It also seemed very fitting as a theme this year as the entire world was forced into a global traumatic experience which is helping us all transform into people that are more focused on love and compassion.
People are going through their own dark night of the soul to help them shift into more heart centered beings. So we have tried to portray this through the film.
CAT: In terms of filming dancers, what are some of the challenges involved from the filmmaker’s perspective?
Victor: We were really hampered by space, our studio just wasn’t big enough to accommodate the project, so we were forced to improvise.
CAT: In terms of being filmed, what are the challenges involved from the dancer’s perspective?
Melissa: Space and staying within the parameters of the screen was a challenge. We are used to being very expansive in our movement so we had to adjust to make everything fit and stay within frame.
Dancers that haven’t done film before can find it exhausting as well as we shoot the same sequence over and over again to get the right shot. Sometimes the lighting isn’t right, sometimes the camera doesn’t record. Things are constantly being adjusted so the dancer has to be ready for anything to happen.
Working on the body project was a great learning experience. I enjoyed collaborating with these experienced dancers and trying out new lighting setups and equipment to create something unique and inspiring.”
Alexander Delisle, Digital Filmmaking
CAT: Have the dancers enjoyed the process? How so? What have they enjoyed the most?
Melissa: The dancers loved this process! None of them had done any filming before so it was a great learning experience. They were so impressed by the film students and they loved coming in and working each day.
Being able to see their movement on a professional screen was really exciting for them, and seeing how our vision as a team came to life was very cool. As a choreographer you can see it in your head but when the dancer starts to see what they are creating it gets really exciting for them.
CAT: Over the shooting of this video what have been some of the most useful learning takeaways from the film students’ perspectives.
Victor: Lighting the movement in the studio from both a black limbo and infinite white perspective was a terrific learning opportunity.
CAT. When and where will we be able to see the finished product?
Melissa: Not sure yet! It is still in the editing stages. We were SO lucky to have CAT also create an audio track for our film which they just received. Once we have the finished film we will be looking at entering it into some dance film festivals in the future.
Victor: When the project is completed we will discuss the idea of premiering it either here or at the RCA (Rotary Centre for the Arts).
Also, I just want to add that the music for the project was done by CAT audio student Daniel Tu, so the project was also a great cross-department collaboration!
“I truly enjoyed the difference on our views of the project, seeing how they viewed our movement through the screen. Also the challenge of limited space. As dancers we usually have a large portion of space for movement, but the view of the camera was significantly smaller than our room we created in, making for a squishier range of motion. Although, that challenge really pushed me to know when movements can be bigger and those that are more internal. I loved every moment of the experience, the crazy heat and all!” ~Emily Wikenheiser, Dancer
“Working with CAT was a great collaborative experience. Everyone had a voice and each of our individual ideas and opinions were considered when creating the film. In the process of filming we were able to try out a lot of these ideas, and it was a very supportive environment.” ~Mackenzie Friesen, Dancer
“One of the most fulfilling parts about the dance on film project was to witness the individualistic creativity and passion of other students in response to the creative work that we were expressing through movement. Coming together to form this containment of energy with basically strangers was truly a special experience!” ~Tatum Bell, Dancer
“Working on the body project was a great learning experience. I enjoyed collaborating with these experienced dancers and trying out new lighting setups and equipment to create something unique and inspiring.” ~Alexander Delisle, Digital Filmmaking
Photograph of ‘The Body Project’ by Famous Photos