Choreography meets cinematography as Dance Camera West, the annual media festival showcasing the art and craft of dance on film, returns to Los Angeles Thursday for a week of screenings, live performances and discussions.
With a program of about three dozen films, including shorts and features, Dance Camera West isn't aimed solely at dance aficionados or cinephiles, according to executive director and programmer Tonia Barber.
"Dance is a universal language," Barber said in a recent phone interview, and she hopes the fest is equally rewarding for connoisseurs and "someone who maybe takes a Zumba class every week."
The festival's 14th annual incarnation kicks off this evening at the UTA screening room in Beverly Hills, with a live performance by Jacob Jonas The Company and screenings of the Lombard Twins' short "Escualo" and Louis Wallecan's documentary "Dancing is Living: Benjamin Millepied."
Additional festival programming includes the live performance "Impact L.A.," a tribute to the many eras of local dance artists; a panel discussion on choreography and animation technology; a series of short films; a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Technicolor; and a dance-along screening of Claudio Del Punta's "Dancing for My Havana."
Though Dance Camera West features several live performances, Barber said watching dance movies can be its own unique experience.
"When you see dance on film, it's very intimate because the director said, 'OK, I want the camera to just focus on this,'" Barber said. "And so the audience gets to then have a very different experience with dance that's much more intimate and up close, and that has a very different resonance for people."
The fest has been known to move attendees, Barber said, in more ways than one: "We've had a number of people afterward who have come to us after and said, 'That made me really want to go to the gym right now.'"
Dance Camera West runs today through May 5 at locations throughout Los Angeles. Event details are available on the festival website.