Interview with Laura Zimmerman – Dance for the Camera Instructor


Melissa Durante asks: What will the lesson plans be like for each day of the intensive?

For the intensive, we will be focusing primarily on how composition and camera positioning can create and aid storytelling in dance film.  Each day we will focus on a different topic or theme, including framing and perspective, depth of field, camera positioning and movement, and filming on location, and the festival participants will work in small groups to create short dance films centered on the day’s topic.

For example, we will be learning about framing a shot and playing with perspective (wide shot, close-up, bird’s eye view, worm’s eye view, etc.) to create visual interest in your dance film.  After discussing how to utilize framing and perspective, we’ll look at some examples of dance films that utilize this in an effective way.  The participants will then get hands-on experience by developing and shooting a short dance film that utilizes the perspective and framing techniques they learned about.  At the end of class we’ll have a brief screening of the films they created and discuss how framing and perspective was used in effective or interesting ways.

 Melissa Durante asks: First, how did you get started in your field? What do you enjoy specifically about your work?

Laura answers: Film allows you to alter reality in ways that just aren’t physically possible in either the real world or on stage, thus the medium of film ultimately expands a choreographer’s pallet of possibilities.  You can reverse your footage so that all your dancers’ movements go backwards.  You can slow down your dancers movements or speed them up to the extreme.  You can flip them upside down.  You can focus just on the dancer’s feet.  You can dance along side a cliff face.  The possibilities are almost endless.

Melissa Durante asks: Can you discuss a little bit about the piece you are currently working on (D4C, I believe Christina mentioned)?

Laura Zimmerman teaches Dance for the Camera
Laura Zimmerman teaches Dance for the Camera

Laura answers: At the moment I’m working on two new dance films that are in different stages of production.  I’ve recently been interesting in creating work in natural environments, so both of these films were and are being filmed on location outdoors.  The first film, under the working title of Through the Woods, features five dancers running and dancing though a wooded nature area in Ann Arbor.  That film is in post-production, so I’m currently in the process of editing it before collaborating with a composer to create the musical score.  The second film, under the working title of Chaptered Migration, features a solo dancer traveling and dancing through the seasons over the course of a year.  In this film we see the stark contrast of fall colors with still, white snow, drenching rain, and bright sunshine.

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