‘Rough Cut’: dance, kinetic imaging collaborate on student film screening

“Unraveling Connections” by Alexiana James and Kasey Grigsby was one of the many student-directed films shown at the screening on Friday. Photo by Marlena Artis

Vaila DeYoung, Contributing Writer

Flashes of color and swirling visuals glided across the screen of the Grace Street Theater along with hues of dark blue. The movements of the performer in this student film paired seamlessly with quick edits and a steady, meditative soundtrack. 

The film is titled “In the Dark of Night” by senior Angie Gan and was the first of the many films shown at a student film screening by VCU’s dance and kinetic imaging departments titled “Rough Cut.”

This first annual event was created to give students an opportunity to share their talent for choreography, camerawork and editing through individual and collaborative dance projects and animation. 

During the opening statement, Kate Sicchio, director of the event and hybrid professor in both departments, described how “Rough Cut” came to fruition.

“Upon my first visit to VCU, everyone really wanted to tell me about the screendance work that’s done here and how they do a screening of  professional work every year,” Sicchio said. “And I was like ‘that’s great but what about t he student work?’ and then when I got here and I saw all the amazing dance and camerawork that the students do, I said ‘we have to make this happen.’”

Students, staff and other spectators gathered inside the theatre, excited to see the films all centered around dance. After Sicchio’s opening statement, the lights dimmed, and each film screened consecutively after the other, giving just enough time to absorb it, then prepare to view the next one. 

“It’s exciting for us to connect and feature work from students from different departments within the School of the Arts.” — Lea Marshall

Each film had something different to offer. The topics varied from human connection and states of consciousness with melodic and fluid choreography, to fun, upbeat music-video-styled projects about money suddenly appearing in your bank account. 

“We had seen an increase in student filmmaking in the dance department over the last several years, due in part to our long running video choreography class and to increasingly accessible technology,” said associate chair and producer within the dance department Lea Marshall. “We wanted to produce an event that featured film on its own.” 

Students Ava Blakeslee-Carter, Michael Shea and Chaunci Hannibal directed “tercet,” a film featuring three parts about differing emotions, meant to be viewed consecutively to form an abstract glimpse into human consciousness and the power of dance.  

We opened submissions to students throughout the School of the Arts, and Dr. Sicchio convened a selection panel of students and faculty from both departments,” Marshall said.

Many VCU dance students showed support by attending the event, and cheered on their fellow peers as each film was screened. Senior dance major Jenna Beardsley was in the video choreography class taught by Sicchio and picked up on little details watching the films another time around. 

Beardsley said the last video, “Love on Tap” by Phil Archer, was interesting because of the multimedia element and the editing techniques.

“That one and the other fully animated ones were the most interesting to me because it’s not something that I see very often in my experience,” Beardsley said.

Marshall said the dance department was honoring a deeper connection with kinetic imaging after the recent addition of hybrid faculty member Sicchio to both programs in 2018.

“It’s exciting for us to connect and feature work from students from different departments within the School of the Arts,” Marshall said.

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