Grace Scott’22 selected to present at prestigious international dance film festival
The curated film festival happens yearly at the American Dance Festival, an internationally-renowned festival in Durham, NC. ADF is known for hosting performances and residencies of internationally-celebrated dancers and the most talented emerging artists, and for offering intensives and training programs for professionals and students throughout the year. Grace’s film was distinguished as one of only 10 student films selected for this year’s festival and will be screened on July 9 in Durham, NC, at 3:30 p.m. at the Durham County Main Library.
It is not surprising that Grace, a biochemistry major, is being honored for her art. As one of Grace’s advisors, Laura Parmentier says, “Grace is an all-around Beloiter! She is a singer, a dancer, a choreographer, a research scholar, a biochemist, an outstanding teaching assistant and a thoughtful, caring human being.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Beloit College dance program wanted to create opportunities for the students to continue to make new works. So the department organized screendance performances to be streamed in lieu of the live staged concerts. This new process encouraged students to explore the dance film idiom.
Grenadine is an exquisite film featuring Grace in three locations: a cement room on the fourth floor of the Powerhouse, a bathtub in Music Haus, and stunning underwater sequences in the Powerhouse pool. (Grace sends a special shout out to Kevin Schober for allowing her to spend hours filming in the pool.)
Getting the incredible underwater shots was not an easy task, but Grace’s life-long love of being in the water (she admits to a childhood dream of becoming a professional mermaid and ocean advocate) and years of intense swimming and demanding underwater training, including SCUBA certification, prepared her well. Grace has been an avid filmmaker since childhood and already owned the cameras she would need for the shots she wanted.
It is intriguing to learn some of the “secrets,” as Grace calls them, behind getting those gorgeous underwater sequences. She explains, “In order to stay at the bottom of the pool and keep the shot bubble free, I blew out all of the air in my lungs. When the last bubbles had popped at the surface, I waited an extra few seconds to allow the ripples to dissipate before moving. So, every shot of moving underwater is at least 30-45 seconds long, with the first few seconds spent waiting underwater to prepare the shot. The last 5-10 seconds were spent preparing to come up for air in a way that could be used as footage. This was especially difficult with the deep end shots, as the bubbles take longer to surface. Luckily, looking serene and graceful when you don’t have any air in your lungs is a special skill that I learned years ago.” Grace reassures us that it was all completely safe. In addition to her rigorous preparation and years of experience, there were trained life guards on duty and two other students, Kelli Badgley’22 and Emily O’Brien’22, in the pool as well just in case.
Grace notes, “I made Grenadine in the midst of the pandemic in the spring of 2021. I know we’re all so incredibly done with talking about the pandemic, but that’s where this work came from, so it deserves to be mentioned.” The film isn’t meant to be a comment on COVID nor have any deeper meaning other than its beauty. “I knew I wanted to do something that couldn’t be replicated on a thrust or proscenium stage, or anywhere else for that matter. I made it with the intention of creating something beautiful and fun to watch.”
The project began because of limitations put on live performance due to the COVID pandemic, but it is clear that making dance films will continue to be a pursuit for Grace going forward for years to come.
“Making dance films was an opportunity for work to be shown in a way never seen before. Angle, momentum, movement, location, sound effects, editing cuts, and more were choreographic tools to utilize in the process of making work,” she says. Although the film is just over three minutes long, the process of creating it took innumerable hours. In addition to the long hours of filming, sifting through all of the footage to choose short sequences to eventually edit together into a final version that she was happy with was a labor of love. Grace says, “Grenadine was my chance to combine a bunch of things I loved and make something fully mine. “