Local dancers to be featured in film

ELKINS — Several West Virginia dance troupes — and a number of dance enthusiasts — will be filmed for the international movie project “Dancing Joy” on Thursday at Davis & Elkins College.

This project features some 24 traditional dance cultures, performing to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and will become a 90-minute feature film best described as a dance documentary. From Elkins, three dance cultures are being represented: Scottish Highland dance; Appalachian square dance and step dance; and Caribbean-American.

Kate Tsubata, producer of “Dancing Joy,” said she is excited to include West Virginia in this project, which has been 12 years in the making.

“We’ve shot three other films here, and I’ve worked on several other productions in the state, so West Virginia is sort of a film mecca for me, personally,” Tsubata said. “We enjoyed the outstanding support of the West Virginia Film Office, including some people who are acting as advisors on the film like Jamie Cope and Film Industry Training Seminars guru Kenny Chaplin. We keep returning here for the great locations, and even greater talent!”

It was through another West Virginia filmmaker, Doc Benson, that Tsubata heard about Katy Dillon’s group known as the West Virginia Highland Dancers, who have choreographed a beautiful segment of Scottish dancing for the film.

“Then, Katy mentioned a fellow choreographer, Will Roboski, who nurtures Appalachian dance. Will, in turn, introduced us to Laurie Goux of SpiritWing Dance Ensemble, which connects to the Katherine Dunham and Caribbean/American tradition, preserving the dance of African diaspora. And finally, Will offered to invite square dance enthusiasts to come out for us to film a non-choreographed segment that evening. We’re so excited to encounter all this in one town,” Tsubata said.

In addition to the talent, the locations for the shooting are on the picturesque campus of Davis & Elkins. President Chris Wood and the administrative team there have welcomed the producers to shoot at some of the most iconic locations on their grounds.

The film crew is small — between four and eight people at any one venue. To shoot the 24 dance segments, they are traveling all over the U.S. and the world, May and June.

“Our itinerary takes us to Chicago, Wisconsin, New York, Salt Lake City and Hawaii,” Tsubata explained. “We will be shooting in Northern Ireland, Greece, Botswana, Nepal, Indonesia, Fiji and Korea. Many of the cultures are transplanted: although in the U.S., they preserve the cultures of Honduras, Bulgaria, Ireland, Spain, Rwanda or India. We also are featuring the indigenous cultures: Native Americans and Hawaiians.”

“Dance is more than a pastime,” Tsubata explained. “It’s a channel of transmitting the stories and experiences and values to others. We want to highlight each of these amazing cultures, to portray their dance with great cinematography. We want audiences to experience the movie as if they have traveled and encountered each of these cultures, and to feel, ‘Wow, humanity is amazing.'”

In addition to welcoming dancers for the final “square dance” segment, the filmmakers can use local production assistants. Anyone who is interested in participating can contact Roboski at 304-308-9191 or email the producers directly at joydancemovie@gmail.com. More information on the film can be found at www.joydancemovie.com.


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