Constellation Change Festival
Mar. 16 – Mar. 19
One of the premiere multi-venue festivals for dance on film, the Constellation Change Festival was launched in 1998 to celebrate the Carol Straker Dance Company's 10th anniversary.
A short film, "Constellation Change," was made to celebrate the dance company's work. The first film highlighted the stars and repertoire of the company. The film won Best Documentary at the Du Pre Awards in France.
From that simple beginning, “Constellation Change” has developed into an international festival, with over 800 film submissions from 47 countries in the last four years.
Visiting filmmakers this year include Cynthia Newport (Director, “Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight”), Albertina Pisano(Director, “Bailaores”) and John Albanis(Director, “Distemper”).
“Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight” (105 mins.)
Focusing on a historic collaboration between dance companies from Cuba and America, “Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight” intertwines several personal stories to capture the beauty of dance and the love of family, both being deeply affected by political environment.
Septime Webre, Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet, brings his dance company to Cuba for the first American performance there in 40 years. The son of a Cuba-born mother, Webre takes time to find the remnants of his parents’ lives on the island.
The rich history of Cuban dance is also revealed through the stories of Alicia Alonso, and dancer Carlos Acosta, who grew up in one of the poorest areas of Havana. Today, Acosta is a world-renowned dancer frequently compared to Baryshnikov, and a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet.
The 82-year-old Alicia Alonso is a founder and Director General of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She became a superstar with the American Ballet Theater in New York, only to lose her eyesight. Despite her blindness, Alonso defied her doctors and continued to dance.
After the Revolution, Castro welcomed Alonso and then-husband Fernando and financed their ballet company. For decades, Alonso’s will and personality have held the Ballet Nacional together, but not without conflict. Today, many of Alonso's best dancers still make the difficult decision to leave Cuba.
Director Cynthia Newport teams with documentarian Barbara Kopple to present a filmic ballet of exile and return, loss and redemption, tradition and innovation. World premiere.
Shown above: "Bailaores"
“Bailaores” (30 mins.)
Documentary about four contemporary artists (Rafaela Carrasco, Israel Galvan, Andres Marin and Belen Maya), each trying to expand the boundaries of traditional flamenco.
The filmmaker follows this young generation of flamenco artists who are radically innovating the art form.
The film mixes interviews and performances, exploring the influences and evolutions which inform each artist's aesthetics, and the obstacles they face in changing an art form which is linked inextricable to a complex cultural system. The film shows how their quest is often misunderstood and attacked by traditionalists as a dangerous heresy.
The four protagonists share a common, compelling necessity to find a personal language for flamenco dance, one which draws inspiration from different art forms, such as contemporary dance, Butoh and Katakhali.
Filmmaker: Albertina Pisano was born in 1976. She holds a honor degree in philosophy and film at Milan University. She has filmed several cultural programs for RAI, and studied flamenco dance in Madrid and Sevilla. This is her first documentary.
“For a Tango” (5 mins.)
Fleeing from WWI, a massive influx of immigrants arrived in Buenos Aires. There were seven men to every one woman. The tango, with bravado and skill, illuminated lost dreams, new hopes, and captured in tangible form the longing to remember -- and to forget.
Filmmaker: Gabriele Zucchelli was born 1972 in Pavia, Italy, and worked as an animator in Milan. In 1994 he moved to London where he worked on TV specials and musical featurettes with Paul McCartney. “For A Tango” is his first short film.
“Anything But Love” (99 mins.)
“Anything But Love” celebrates the style and sensibility of 1950s Technicolor musicals. It tells a contemporary love story about young woman choosing between the life she wants and the dreams she can’t live without.
The film stars Isabel Rose as Billie Golden, a woman infatuated with the glamor of an era long past. Dressed to the nines in the look of Hepburn and Hayworth, Billie envisions herself singing in plush nightclubs amidst velvet curtains and the sparkle of champagne.
After a series of setbacks, she runs into heartthrob Greg, who sweeps her off her feet. But when she meets a jaded pianist, Elliot, she finds herself caught between competing dreams, a dilemma only Eartha Kitt can solve.
“Anything But Love” pays homage to movies shot in Technicolor, featuring outrageous scenes where everyone and the waiter break into a new dance number. For fans of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Pillow Talk” or “Funny Face.”
“Distemper” (5 mins.)
Based on Decidedly Jazz DanceWorks' staged performance, “Velvet,” “Distemper” deals with the nightmare of suffocation.
“Dance to This” (5 mins.)
“Dance to This” is a ballet film that features the innovative choreography of Sabrina Christine Matthews, as set to composer Douglas Schmidt's modern classical soundtrack. This is the story of a toy ballerina's dream of becoming real, and features Mathews in a variety of urban landscapes, the Rocky Mountains, and the Alberta Badlands. A moving meditation on the power and beauty of dance. Nominated for an AMPIA award.
Shown above: "Distemper"
“Together” (8.5 mins.)
A silent man enters a house and is confronted by memories from the past. Through a series of dance routines, we watch a couple’s relationship at different moments.
As the man is drawn through the house, he draws closer to the present and the couple's final confrontation. “Together” is a film about the things we leave behind.
“Gold” (10 mins.)
“Gold” is a short experimental dance film exploring the impressive skills and playful competition of two gymnasts at their local gym. The film evokes the solitary pursuit of physical power, exploring the strength of will it takes to win.
“B-Girl” (15 mins.)
“B-Girl” is a story of hip-hop, of what it means to be a breaker. Angel is a b-girl struggling in the six-step, a fundamental move.
Her coach, Carlos, and her all-male crew doubt her skill when she can’t even support herself through the most basic steps. With a huge competition coming up, Angel has to prove her place among them. She stays to practice late at night, building her strength.
Through pushing herself, and trusting herself, she finds a new power and style all her own. She doesn’t just succeed; she blows the room away...
“Silent Collisions” (26 mins.)
“Silent Collisions,” the new work created by Frederic Flamand with his company Charleroi/Danses - Plan K.
Inspired by Calvino's “Invisible Cities,” and created with the complicity of California architect Thom Mayne, choreography,and architecture are blended into a work about the tension between the lingering traces of common memory and the virtuality of a post-urban era which has yet to be discovered.
Bill Shannon, better known by his B-boy moniker “CrutchMaster,” has a career that defies all categories. CrutchMaster's mix stems from philosophy as well as physical necessity as he lives with a degenerative hip condition.
Shannon considers himself to be a performance artist rather than a dancer, and defines his work as rooted in street culture but informed by the fine arts.
He has developed a version or skateboarding and hip-hop that incorporates his crutches, creating a floating style where weight is shared rhythmically across four points.
The 5th Constellation Change will take place in various venues in central London. Fest central is Curzon Soho.
Shown/header image (clockwise, beginning at top right): "Distemper"; "Dance to This"; "Together"; "Bailaores"; "For a Tango"; "Bailaores")
Find it/Festival venues:
93-107 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 5DY
Get info: 020 7734 2255
National Film Theatre
London SE1 8XT
Get info: 020 7928 3232
107 Kingsland High Street
(corner John Campbell Rd)
Get info: 020-7241-9410
Find out about other film festivals worldwide, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."