Harvard-Westlake Upper School Produces Remote-Reflect Dance Production

Piper Vita

Although performing to students and parents live, and in person isn’t an option for the dance students at the Harvard-Westlake Upper School, the show continues to go on. Remote – Reflect, an Upper School dance performance filmed, choreographed and produced at the homes of 17 dance students.

The dancers were divided into groups for each different scene, most dancers being in multiple groups, and then were sent off to film and produce their choreography at home. With the help of Anne Moore, the film’s director, and Damien Nemire-Pepe, the video editor, Remote – Reflect is was brought to life by students only using their Iphones to film. And, with the extra assistance of friends, parents, guardians, siblings and other relatives working as camera operators and craft service providers, plus the talent shown by these 17 dancers, a beautiful film was produced.

You could say the Remote – Reflect dance film could be separated into a timeline. Different scenes choreographed and performed by different dancers in different places near and in their homes using different props. In between larger scenes, smaller clips were performed by a singular dancer.

The film begins with a feature of different contemporary dancers fractured with an effect that is similar to a broken glass-like screen. This collection of short clips are taken from later scenes in the performance and accompanied by an enchanting violin piece acting as a sort of background music.

The second scene begins with a panned out video of surrounding nature by the student’s homes and is accompanied by the song, “Blue Flowers” by Dr. Octagon. The dancers are all shown wearing bright yellow dresses and dance to similar choreography, the main focus of the choreography being the movement of hands and fingers. Their videos are synchronized with the other videos filmed by other dancers, although each dancer dances in front of a different space outside their home.

In the third scene, we see a spotlight focused on the wall, and once again, the movement of hands against the wall and across the spotlight. The whole scene is accompanied by electric pop music that begins later in the scene where the dancers begin to dance in front of the spotlight themselves. They all wear similar clothing, a cropped black and brown blouse unbuttoned at the front to reveal a long black tank top and leggings. Most of the scene is overlaid with a white strobing effect and flashes between dancers. Although the choreography in the last scene was the same for all dancers, the choreography in this scene is all very different and created by the students performing.

Between this last scene and the next scene, a choreographed solo is performed by a student in her upstairs hallway. Quickly after, we move only to the next scene, where most dancers are wearing white or pink, and dance under blue and pink led lights that tint the walls and leave colored shadows. Accompanied by quick paced music, the dancers show their talent under the colored spotlights with unique choreography and enchanting movement.

In the next scene, we are greeted by chirping birds and a natural scene in someone’s backyard. A common theme of mirrors is present in this scene to symbolize the reflection of oneself on quarantine, and the dancers once again return to a nature-filled background. The students, once again, have similar choreography and clips of them dancing in silver blouses and teal leggings are pieced together to create a complete choreographed dance accompanied by dramatic music. The scene ends with the four dancers looking up to the sky in reflection.

The film continues with another filler scene. A girl in a red dress dancing along through a hallway and holding her phone as she spins. The solo is followed by a scene in which the dancers are wearing the same red dress and interacting with silver ribbons hanging from a doorway. The dancers are pictured dancing to “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer while moving their hands and bodys through the wall of ribbon, creating shapes with their arms.

In the seventh scene, different dancers dance to a beautiful monologue answering, “what means everything to you?” Answers included: It means everything to me to not feel gaslit everyday; it means everything to me to just feel heard and understood; it means everything to me to let go of control; it means everything to me to trust folks.

The eighth scene begins with the dancers in long blue dresses dancing both inside their houses under the colorful lights we saw before, and also outside their homes surrounded by nature acomplanies by orchestrated violin music in the background.

The eighth scene then leads nicely into the ninth scene, where the video pans out and we see a girl watching the dancers in the eight scene on her bed, which leads her to begin dancing up the stairs in her home to a room with one seat a table. Clips of different dancers moving their arms and upper body’s in their seats were then clipped together to look like a combined choreographed dance occasionally featuring the facial features of the dancers and their hands on the table in front of them.

The next scene begins with imagery of a drive through a bright city at night, a video taken by one of the dancers. This clip leads into the tenth scene where the dancers are shown dancing during the night in front of their homes under the headlights of the cars in their driveways.

Through the hard work of these seventeen dancers, Remote – Reflect was created and is one of the most enchanting online dance performances I think the Dance Program has created. Now that we’re going into summer, I can only imagine that next year, the dance productions will be even better!