WHO ARE YOU?
My name is Pontus Lidberg. I am a choreographer, filmmaker, and dancer based in NYC and Copenhagen. I have been working as an artist for 23 years, and producing work under the umbrella Pontus Lidberg Dance since 2003. Rather than a traditional company, we are an international, ever-shifting group of dancers, composers, designers, and cinematographers whom I assemble to create dance films and staged dance works, often in tandem with each other. I love exploring what the mediums of dance and film can convey together. My choreography is inevitably influenced by my beautiful dancers and their ways of being, which are visible through their ways of moving.
This short reel shows clips from my previous, short award-winning films, The Rain and Labyrinth Within:
WHAT IS WRITTEN ON WATER?
Written on Water is a new, 75-minute dance film about an artist whose happy and comfortable married life is upended when she unexpectedly falls in love with someone else.
Featuring Paris Opera Ballet's Aurélie Dupont, Ballet Zurich principal dancer Alexander Jones, and myself, along with five other gorgeous dancers who form a fictional dance company at the heart of the story, Written on Water conveys the drama of desire and the turmoil of the protagonist’s inner life through dance, evocative cinematography, and music.
Water is another character in the film; it permeates the character’s lives, creating a visceral sense that what is happening to the characters is outside of their conscious control. Underneath the narrative about this tumultuous but restrained love are some questions that have long driven me as an artist: what are the ways in which our realities are also fictions? I am fascinated by how our lives can change in an instant when an experience does not fit into the stories we tell ourselves: the fictions of our lives are as changeable as if they were written on water. This film’s story about an artist creating a choreographed fiction, then getting lost inside it, is my metaphor for how we live our lives.
WHAT IS THIS MONEY FOR?
My collaborators and I have been working on Written on Water for the past four years. With the support of arts organizations and funders, as well as significant personal investment from me and many of the artists on my creative team, we are now poised to enter a final rehearsal period and film shoot. This July, my dancers and I will be in residence at the Vineyard Arts Project in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where we will finalize the choreography before shooting the rest of the film in Paris.
As we move forward towards completing this work, we are looking to YOU to partner with us! Given that so many of our cast and crew are donating their valuable time and talent to this film, and that generous friends have covered space and travel for rehearsals in July, our greatest expenses are the shooting locations in Paris and the camera, lenses, and technical equipment. As you can see from our video, the visual elements are absolutely integral to the telling of this story.
WHY ARE YOU MAKING WRITTEN ON WATER, AND WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT IT?
I have never seen a film like Written on Water, and in making this film I asked myself: What can I bring to the table that nobody else is bringing to the table? My team and I believe that this poetical merging of dance and film can make a special contribution to our larger conversations about love and relationships, and we hope that you will join us in bringing this project to fruition.
This project is unique not only in being a feature dance film, but also in that the choreography from the film will be performed live as a standalone stage work for seven dancers, entitled Siren, that will be presented on stages around the world from this summer. We are delighted to invite you to connect with this project not only by lending your important support to this campaign, but also by coming to see us at one of these venues:
- Siren World premiere at the Festival Occidente-Oriente in Rovereto, Italy August 31, 2018
- Siren New York City planned for October, 2018
We look forward to sharing additional performance dates and film festival engagements with all of our backers!
WHO IS INVOLVED?
Pontus Lidberg (Director/Choreographer/Lead Actor/Dancer) has created works for New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Semperoper Ballet Dresden, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, Balletboyz, Beijing Dance Theatre, and Morphoses, as well as for his own company, Pontus Lidberg Dance (PLD). PLD has been presented by New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival, Havana International Ballet Festival, Spoleto Festival, Fire Island Dance Festival, The Joyce Theater, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, and the National Arts Center of Canada. Of Lidberg's dance film The Rain, The New York Times wrote, "memorably, The Rain illustrates what filmed dance can say that staged dance cannot." His film Labyrinth Within won Best Picture at the Dance on Camera Festival in 2012.
Aurélie Dupont (Lead Actress/Dancer), is a former Étoile dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet and was one of the most sought-after dancers in the world until retiring from the stage following a performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon in May 2015. In February 2016, she took over as Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, making her—in an industry that is still surprisingly male-dominated—one of the few women in the world directing a ballet company. Her credentials are impeccable: Critics described her onstage as both “slightly cool” and “intriguingly flirtatious.” She has starred in a number of films, most notably Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse.
Alexander Jones (Lead Actor/Dancer) has been a Principal Dancer with Ballet Zurich since 2015 and was previously Principal dancer with Stuttgart Ballet. Alexander was born in Essex, England and received his ballet training at the Royal Ballet School in London. He was nominated for Most Outstanding Male Performance by The Critics’ Circle in England for his role as Petrucchio in The Taming of the Shrew. He has guest performed with Berlin Staatsballett and many others.
Martin Nisser (Director of Photography) shoots narrative films, commercials, and documentaries in Sweden and internationally. He has worked with directors Niklas Holmgren and Anders Hazelius (Främmande Land/Distant Land, 2010) and shot award-winning shorts by Pontus Lidberg (Labyrinth Within, Best Picture at Lincoln Center's Dance on Camera Festival, 2012) and Johan Jonason (Dance Music Now, Guldbagge for Best Short Film and Best Short at the Göteborg International Film Festival, 2012). He graduated from the London International Film School with a Distinction in Cinematography, and has studied lighting features, theoretical and practical storytelling, still photography, and cinematography at the Maine Media Worskhops, Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, and Folkuniversitet in Stockholm, Sweden, where he is based.
Other collaborators include:
- Bel Air Media | Production Company
- Sandy Strallen | First Assistant Director
- Sarawanee Tanatanit | Lead Dancer
- Christopher Adams | Dancer
- Barton Cowperthwaite | Dancer
Lucas Threefoot | Dancer
- Stefan Levin | Composer
- Brandon Stirling Baker | Lighting Designer
- Adrian Guo Silver | Dramaturg
- Karen Young | Costume Designer
- Michelle Kane | Assistant to Choreographer
We gratefully acknowledge the following early funders of Written on Water and Siren:
American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet
- The Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation
- Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation
- Jerome Robbins Foundation
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- SHS Foundation
- Many generous individual funders, as well as
- Baryshnikov Arts Center and Dans i Nord
Risks and challenges
This film is my most ambitious work to date, and my team is made up of absolutely irreplaceable dancers and artists who have been integral to every step of this creative process. They are also based in New York City, Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Because they are talented, they juggle multiple demands on their busy schedules, so planning rehearsals and shoots is a challenge. Everyone on the team has carved out time this summer to rehearse and finish shooting, and It is imperative that we raise enough funds to do so on this timeline.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)