"We Dance" Short Film (SFA & WDD, 2021)
The second short film that I have had the joy to write and direct—and work alongside filmmaker Ethan Payne to bring to life! For this one, titled "We Dance", we tell the story of Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, two imminently talented professional dancers who, under the banner of Wideman-Davis Dance, "research and make work to understand the social, economic, and political traditions that are historical in nature but current in their practice of casting and holding Black and Brown people near or at the bottom of society."
Here is a synopsis of the film:
We Dance is a love story, deconstructed and distilled into its most elemental ingredients. Dreams. Memories. Family. And environments. Through stunning visuals and vivid poetry, Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis take us from Chicago to Montgomery, from New York to the point where their lives meet and become one. Along the way, they honor and signify on Black American art, poetry, and literature. They offer commentary on the importance of movement and migration to Black American identity, lived experience, and consciousness. And they show how all of our stories are kept, in the places we’ve been, and in the food we eat, and in the dreams that we so steadfastly chase.
Here is an explanation of my artistic approach in writing and visioning the film:
The guiding and framing idea of We Dance is "deconstruction." It is a deconstructed love story—wherein we present the component parts (i.e., the stories of Tanya and Thaddeus) first, then arrive at the whole (i.e., their shared story). It is a deconstructed food story, where we focus, first, on ingredients and food preparation and, ultimately, on the entire dish. We Dance is also a deconstructed dance/movement story, where we focus the most on singular movements, a stylistic decision easily crystallized in the chapter titles—“Spin,” “Rise,” and “Hold.” The theme of deconstruction also shaped our approach to storycraft. One might treat each chapter as an individual story, wherein they tell a story that is self-contained. One might also see the chapters as deeply interconnected, so much so that the last line of chapter three (also the namesake of the film)—“We Dance”—flows into the first line of chapter one—“From West of No Return.”
The aforementioned chapter titles also hint at another defining characteristic of the film: the use of double and triple meaning. Each of the titles allude to movements that might be associated with food preparation or dance; and the chapters are also analogs for the ways that Black Americans have had to “move” in order to survive and thrive amidst discrimination, dispossession, and so on.