In Department of Dance

Rachel Barker and dance students McCall McClellan, Jared McClure and Abby Roush traveled to Moab in southern Utah for a site-specific dance film. (Harrison Trinca)

BYU dance professor Rachel Barker and three dance students worked together to create a site-specific dance based on three locations in Moab, Utah

Department of Dance professor Rachel Barker and dance students McCall McClellan, Jared McClure and Abby Roush traveled to Moab in southern Utah to create a video that investigates the role between human movement in dance and the nature that surrounds them while dancing. 

Barker and her students filmed site-specific dance choreography, which is a type of choreography that responds to the environment that surrounds the dancer outside of the traditional concert stage. They found inspiration at three separate filming locations in Moab. Each place was chosen for its unique perspective and feel.

The section of film shot in Moonflower Canyon placed dancers against the backdrop of high canyon walls. Dancing in Pucker Pass gave a bird’s-eye view of dancers on top of high ledges with steep drop offs. Onion Creek allowed dancers to use the flowing creek as a stage for dancing.

McClellan dances in Onion Creek and learns grit through performing despite cold water temperatures. (Harrison Trinca)

“The location of the film was such an important part of it,” said Barker. “We wanted to feature the dancing and the environment equally. We wanted to play with perspective — exploring close-ups of the human body juxtaposed with aerial views that showcase the grandiose natural landscape — and also touch on the similarities between physical movement and nature.”

The students began choreographing the film long before they had even stepped foot in Moab. Months prior to the shooting, Barker began asking them to make phrases, or short sections of choreography, based on various elements of nature like water, dirt and rocks. 

Read the full story at dance.byu.edu.

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