Thank you kindly for choosing my work for the Harlequin Scholarship contest this month.
This work began development last January as the first creation for my non-profit art collective Gesamt (gesamt-nyc.org ). The focus of Gesamt is to create works that synthesize the arts (music, dance, theatre, film, visual art and fashion) — “Art in 360.” I am interested in creating and producing work that has strong individual visions of collaborators. When I watch the final version of Canto, of course I see my own vision, but I also see three other visions that captivate me— the work of Daisy Zhou, Nathan Prillaman and Jessica Reehorst. All I asked of them was to create something they were 100% passionate about, and I think they succeeded brilliantly.
The film was inspired by the work of Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno,” where my use of the title “canto” comes from— meaning "long poem." Canto is an abstract vignette of energy and beauty embodied youth.
The production process started in late February, rehearsals with the dancers started in April and the film was shot over one weekend in May. That weekend was long for everyone. I could not have done it without my team of people and friends lugging around equipment, cleaning up after each shot and being flexible to receive direction in the moment.
One of my greatest struggles in this process was finding a cinematographer. I started looking in the beginning of January, making cold calls to different New York institutions. Finally I was pointed to a private NYU alumni blog, one day after posting I received twelve emails from interested cinematographers. I realized that this process is a big problem, so in November I started an LLC called Pallet (ourpallet.com) that helps all artists connect and collaborate— currently we have over 1000 users.
The choreography itself comes from several of my pieces over the past three years, including a new piece I created for the stage that April called “Kairos Press.” I started dancing when I was sixteen, and I had been creating movement phrases before then just for my own entertainment. Now in my third year at The Juilliard School, I have been fortunate enough to choreograph frequently— creating over 15 works, inside of school and professionally.
When I hear music, I can construct movement in my head and over the past few years I have focusing on refining my construction and communication. I hope to keep creating works for film specifically— as you are viewing a work that has not diminished from the time I finished the final cut in October of 2015.
I would like to also state that I have found much opposition from my ideas as a choreographer at school— for every person that is a fan of your work, there is another person who make it clear that they are not— there will be room for all of those people in a book someday.
Thank you again for selecting my work— it is an honor.
(non-profit art collective)