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BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WEST

The Broad Stage presents DANCE CAMERA WEST DRIVE-IN, BEST OF THE FESTIVAL, a unique drive-in experience on January 30 & 31, outdoors at the SM College Bundy Campus

BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WEST

The Broad Stage presents DANCE CAMERA WEST DRIVE-IN, BEST OF THE FESTIVAL, a unique drive-in experience showcasing the very best dance films from around the world on the big screen, with two different programs on Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31, 2021 outdoors at the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus - East Parking Lot. Each of the sixteen films will be making its world, United States and/or Los Angeles premiere.

I got a chance to toss a few queries to Dance Camera West's head honcho Kelly Hargraves.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Kelly!

What sparked you to originally co-found Dance Camera West with Lynette Kessler in 2001?

When I moved to L.A. in 2000, I had just left New York where I did a Masters in Dance Film at NYU, and worked on the Prestigious Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center. I started reaching out to start a similar event here, and was told Lynette was also working toward that, so we joined forces. I had many contacts internationally with theaters and distributors, so had access to films to show pretty easily, as we built awareness and a community of L.A.- based filmmakers.

What gravitational pulls were in force to bring you back and except the position of executive director and artistic director of DCW in 2018?

BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WESTI had always missed the event, and when I heard that it might need to end, it seemed natural to once again take the helm and steer it to safer waters.

The last few years have been a major re-launch of DCW. Had you accomplished most of what DCW set out before the pandemic shutdown?

Yes! We were able to find one place, one weekend, and enough submissions to put on an eclectic rich screening; as well as, pay artists and create revenue streams for them through distribution partnerships.

DCW has produced live performance, but DCW's last few FESTIVALS have been film-centric?

I hold tight to the difference between dance film and performance, and think what DCW is here for is screenings. I think it's a very different experience, and hard to have side-by-side, because neither is given the attention deserved.

Would you say the major difference for this year's FESTIVAL, is that it'll be held socially-distant at a drive-in, instead of regular movie theatres?

BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WESTYes, we have never done a drive-in before. We are also showing less films-la crème de la crème! We will miss the community that theater is built upon, of course, but are happy to create a shared experience of performance based work, at a time so lacking that.

What cosmic forces brought DCW together with The Broad Stage for this DCW DRIVE-IN?

One of the reasons the FESTIVAL is in January is that because it is film based, it is much easier to put on after the holidays. This year of course, has pressed all performance venues to find new ways to contribute art to the cultural community, so we were happy to be available for an event at such a prestigious event-who are obviously brave too!

What have been the new challenges of this year's unique situation in producing DCW DRIVE-IN?

Well, it's not cheap to build a drive-in, but also now we have to worry about weather, and most importantly make sure patrons know this is a very safe, low -risk way to experience performance during COVID.

BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WESTIn 2020, DCW received 325 film submissions from over 40 countries, presenting a diverse selection of 50+ films. For this year, DCW received 260 entries from 35 countries, and will be presenting a select sixteen. Is there a particular film that simply resonates with your soul?

The overriding theme in this year's fest seems to be the contrast between expansive outdoor spaces that the dancing body can inhabit and intimate spaces of dancer's homes which we have been invited into during COVID. So, my soul is riding the wave between those two vibes. I do love the variety we are still able to present with only sixteen films.

Some of the natural backgrounds and sites used in the films are stunning, making me long for the wide-open spaces we were so unappreciative of having before. What parameters did you have for your entries?

They are beautiful, aren't they! And YES that craving to be dancing outdoors is strong! The only parameter is that it is a film never seen in Los Angeles before.

BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WESTWhere did the light bulb moment of producing a drive-in experience come from?

To be honest, I have wanted to do it forever! That and a parade. The COVID limitations allow for some thinking outside the box ideas to grow, and for partnerships to flourish while we aren't all so busy with our "normal" plans.

How big is your DCW DRIVE-IN staff?

That I can't say. The active DCW staff is only two, myself and our festival producer Amber Adams. The Broad Stage of course, brings their experienced tech and production crew.

You've been a panel speaker and jury member at various festivals, nationally and internationally. The universal language of dance cuts would eliminate the necessities of learning foreign languages, yes?

Yes! We have a very nice international community of dance film festivals and filmmakers. I am also involved in Women's film festivals. Movement and film are such a connecting form for artists of other cultures. I think I have learned more about the world, and history, through film than through reading, school or news!

What particular foreign dance vocabulary do you keep ready to use in the back of BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WESTyour creative mind?

I trained in Montreal Canada, so I have an eclectic practice that grew out of the annual Festival du Nouvelle Danse, where each edition brought in artists to Concordia University to teach us. So, my personal background is German Expressionism/tanz theater; Butoh and hip hop - which is how I ended up in the U.S. I came to study with Doug Elkin and David Neuman, who I studied with in Montreal. But, the biggest lesson I learned, is to not learn a technique; but to create your very own movement style and expression.

How would you compare the dance communities of Montreal, New York and Los Angeles?

This is interesting, because I lived in them consecutively, so can't do a direct comparison, but as I referenced above, Montreal was very based in choreography, ahead of technique. Montreal didn't have specific techniques, especially named after the inventor. So, in N.Y., I discovered "Cunningham," "Graham," etc. as things you actually go to a place to learn. Los Angeles has seen such growth since I have been here. The community is now vast and varied, with beautiful technical dancers, and DIY choreographers. The number of presenting and educational venues and presenters were growing. That has sadly been paused at the moment.

What did you initially want to become when you grew up? A dancer? A director? A filmmaker?

BWW Interview: Kelly Hargraves Deftly DRIVEs IN Her DANCE CAMERA WESTAh, what a lovely thing to ask. I often forget I have an artistic life! I was an athlete and visual artist as a kid. I knew I wanted to stay physical, but didn't really live in a place with a LOT of access. I started dancing at seventeen, then became a dance company manager right out of University, and then worked my way into the dance studio! So, I suppose I always wanted to dance, but didn't see it as a career. I studied communications, film and radio, which is where all my directing and producing experience came from. So, in many ways, I kind of did create the exact job for what I am "good" at!

If I had it my way I would still dance all day! What a blessing that life is/was.

What is you see in the post-pandemic future for Dance Camera West?

We created great partnerships this year with The Broad Stage and with Théâtre Raymond Kabbaz, as well as, with touring partners. We already have half the fest planned for next year, thanks to all that. So COVID, on a personal level has been so devastating, but on a professional level, has helped us grown our network.
There are still many people who have not witnessed or experienced dance film as the vibrant, strong definitive art form it is, and because of COVID now have so much more access to see it, and the impetus to make it, so I foresee many more films, events and audiences!

Thank you again, Kelly!

Thank you! I very much appreciate your questions!

For information and tickets for the four screenings of DANCE CAMERA WEST DRIVE-IN, BEST OF THE FESTIVAL, visit Show times in the east parking lot of the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus are at 5:30pm and 8pm both days, with Program A preceding Program B on Saturday; and following Program B on Sunday.

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