by Matt Paley
Oh my god, it’s finally here.
This was one of those projects. None of the lovely people — Lily Susskind, my mighty co-director; Matt Ferro, our genius behind the camera; STE’s own Jake Teresi, our enabler, producer, and host in New Orleans; Carsie Blanton, our musical muse and sponsor – had any idea if and when it would suddenly (in my unsteady hands) transform itself into something lovely, hard and brilliant, and I had only the slightest inkling (and only sometimes).
Certainly, it was a project with the makings of something good. Carsie had managed to round up a veritable who’s who of the world’s greatest swing dancers – Chance Bushman, Giselle Anguizola, Peter Loggins, Amy Johnson, Reuel Reis, Laura Manning and Lisa Casper — and we’d constructed a tiny crew equally versed in dance and film primed to push the boundaries of the dance on film we’d seen before. Thanks to the generosity and excitement of the performers who joined us, our time in New Orleans and the footage we’d collected was unbelievable. But in the editing process, trying to capture the spirit of all of these dancers and their opposing styles, to respect the dance and still cut it mercilessly, to delight in the magic of New Orleans without reverting to cliché, and above all to fit everything into barely three minutes of song seemed an impossible task.
And yet, at long last, here it is! Shot in the streets of the 8th Ward, inside a St. Charles streetcar, on the balcony of Mimi’s in the Marigny, and in the abandoned Six Flags in Michoud, Baby Can Dance is a celebration of life and joy and dance and a city that’s always pregnant with all three. Please enjoy.
by Matt Paley
I first visited New Orleans this past February and — like nearly everyone I know who’s made the trip — I found myself quickly ensnared in nets of magic and, from the very moment I left, anxious to return. How lucky I was to find myself, not three months later, back in Nola at the helm of a project that combined so many of my favorite things: a lovely folk singer, some extraordinary dancers, nightclubs, streetcars, and an abandoned six flags… the result (in whatever forms it settles into, still very much a mystery) is the Baby Can Dance project, a collaboration with Lily Susskind, Founder of Baltimore’s Effervescent Collective, and folk singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton and her delirious mix of folk, pop, jazz and, in this case, swing.
Carsie, Lily, the insanely talented Matt Ferro (whose camerawork can be seen in Pitkoff’s La Vie and No Sleep) and I descended on New Orleans (and on STE’s own Jake Teresi, who produced the hell out of this crazy shoot) and came together with a number of the very best swing dancers in New Orleans — and, thusly, the world — to photograph their dancing in ways it hadn’t been captured before. I think we very much succeeded. Below is a first little taste of what we’re playing with, featuring Laura Manning and Reuel Reis.
Much more to come.
by Jake Teresi
At the NYFF premiere I attended, director Charles Ferguson said he set out to make Inside Job a “blockbuster” of documentaries, a film suited for mass consumption so as to be a call-to-arms. Certainly the B-roll he meshes between talking heads – sweeping, infinitesimally textured pans of the NYC skyline, sprawling factories, all shot on the RED – is as gorgeously epic as anything shot in the last couple years, and the beautiful score is no afterthought, but I still fear the film may be too dense to reach the same population that has swallowed up 2012 and Clash of the Titans in droves.
That’s not all a bad thing. (more…)