Shawn Cusseaux on Dancing for Film

COVID has transformed the entire world in the way we interact with each other, both physically and emotionally. As a dancer and performer, the connection you have with your audience truly defines the experience of live performance. It comes as no surprise that BalletX fully embraced a virtual season once the pandemic hit. The company is known its uniqueness and creativity; transitioning to film for our 15th Anniversary has allowed both creators and viewers to broaden their perspectives on how we all view dance.

With this grand opportunity to reach a broader audience comes several obstacles for us dancers. We must challenge our artistry to penetrate through the screens and develop the same connection we would have had live. We can no longer rely on just our physicality to develop the story of our choreography; we must think beyond our usual bounds and commit our entire being to portraying the story.

The shift from performing in a proscenium theater to performing in various public spaces has been challenging for me. The audience’s perspective on our work is limited by a camera lens, so we must be more creative in the way that we present things on the screen. The choreographers, dancers, and filmmakers collaborate to create a clear and complete visual of our work, often trying multiple configurations before filming.

This opportunity has unlocked so many possibilities for the works being created. When I first viewed the films we premiered in September on BalletX Beyond, I was shocked at how incredible they looked. I believe this season to be a testament to the company’s work and dedication to the art form. BalletX has truly taken dance on film to the next level, and we have all enjoyed this journey. I speak for the whole company when I say that we miss sharing our energy with the audience, and we all hope to be with you soon. Until then, stay tuned to BalletX Beyond.

By Independence Foundation Dance Fellow Shawn Cusseaux