A One-on-One with our Dance Outreach Lead, Jes Nelson

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This Sunday (yes, Valentine's Day), our Dance Outreach Lead, Jes Nelson, has opened up her schedule to hold one-on-one consultations with dancers to talk about their project ideas. She's hosting these in collaboration with the 44th Dance on Camera Festival, New York's most widely attended dance films event, celebrating dancers, filmmakers, and the thought provoking films that bring them together. 

If you're in New York this weekend and would like to chat about your dance project, sign up for a one-on-one. She'll be hosting them on Sunday, February 14, starting at 1PM. If you can't make it, you're still in luck. We had our own one-on-one with Jes, and she gave us some pointers on how to get started.

What advice would you give to performers that are new to capturing their dance via photo or video?

Documentation is so important –– it’s the thing that will get people on the other side of the world excited about what you’re making. Invest in it, ask a friend with experience for help, or know what you’re doing! Strong documentation of your work can and should live outside of your Kickstarter project. Think about it as an opportunity to make additional content for your website, Instagram, or next promo pic.

An image from Jes's project, 'Tiny Dancer'
An image from Jes's project, 'Tiny Dancer'

How can performers show and describe what they're making aside from photo and video?

Sketches, text, Q&A, and sound clips are cool too.

What about backers that can't attend a live performance? How can the creator get them involved and excited about a campaign?

There are so many ways to document and share work with those unable to attend! Creators will often give backers a link to their video documentation –– but I encourage people to think about how the act of physically sharing that link can be a performance in itself. For instance, why not personally text or SnapChat your backer(s) a video clip of the performance live from the front row at your show? Or maybe there is no film documentation involved at all. What does your performance look like as an illustration, a painting, an email, a poem? I personally have an affinity for backstage selfies.

Do you have any examples of a creator hosting a live performance during their campaign? 

Yes, I just attended an event this week! The Martha Graham Dance Company is currently running a project in celebration of their ninetieth anniversary season and offered early Kickstarter backers a chance to attend a historic Isamu Noguchi set walk through and an open rehearsal of Night Journey. Not only was it just cool to be at their studio space (once home to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company), I was able to meet the dancers, touch actual Noguchi pieces, and watch their project's backer count go up while standing on their marley floor. I can’t stop thinking about it. It was a wonderful way to celebrate their Kickstarter launch and see what my support is going towards.

A clip from the 1961 film 'Night Journey'
A clip from the 1961 film 'Night Journey'

What's one of the most frequently asked questions that you get from creators?

Q: How long should my video be?
A: One to two minutes, max.

Do you have a favorite part of Dance on Camera? What are your must-sees?

My favorite part is that it exists! If you're attending, you must check out The Works In Progress screening and the Shorts program.

What are you most looking forward to during your one-on-ones?

Having a bunch of dates for Valentine’s Day. :)

And last but not least, what's your favorite dance move?

Young Thug on a hoverboard
Young Thug on a hoverboard