Despite being in quarantine, students at Harvard-Westlake (HW) are still producing amazing visual art and performances. Windows, a dance film produced by students at HW Upper School, is one of these performances. The film included 30 dancers from the upper school’s dance department, was directed by two teachers from the dance department, Anne Moore and Cyndy Winter, and is an amazing depiction of what the film was hoping to achieve.
Students participating in the film were instructed to create a solo dance piece, lasting about 30-60 seconds, and film themselves performing it using a tripod and other materials that were sent to their homes. The dance was supposed to take place in front of a window, as to adhere to the theme, and also be about a window and include interaction with the window.
“We had to choose several different camera angles and shot types to film the dance in,” Greta Zumbrunnen ’2021, a dancer in the film, said. “When I was filming mine, I think I filmed it probably five separate times, but each time with a different camera angle.”
Along with the dance, students were also supposed to film B-roll footage of the view outside their window as well as shots of them looking straight at the camera as if they were looking out a window, or as if the camera was the window. These cut pieces of extra footage were used throughout the film to further convey the message of the entire piece.
“There were a lot of different elements and the students had a big hand in creating the project,” Zumbrunnen said.
The main feature of the dance film was supposed to be a window, abidea came to be through a discussion about what space that everyone had in their house, and an even deeper meaning to the film sprung from that realization. The focus of the film was the way that “windows can connect us with the outside but also the ways in which a window separates us from what’s on the other side,” Zumbrunnen said.
Before the students began to workshop their pieces, the dance department brought on a guest Video Artist, Damien Nemire-Pepe, to teach two classes on video lighting and cinematography in order to assist the students in the process of creating their segment. Once the pieces were all submitted, Nemire-Pepe also assisted in putting the clips and music together and producing the film in ways that made it seem like this cohesive story centered around the aspects and symbolism of a window.
The music was chosen to encompass the dances created by all the students because, in the original clips that the dancers submitted, they danced to silence.
“It was very exciting to watch the film because, as I said, we created them very much in isolation,” Zumbrunnen shared. “So, it was exciting to see how it all got tied together.”
Overall, the film is an incredible interpretation of the symbolism that Zumbrunnen described, and after watching it, it opens up your eyes to the situation we are in but also represents the beauty of people coming together to create their own story through dance. I suggest you take ten minutes to watch it because I believe you’ll be able to relate to what the dancers communicate as well.