Standing on Gold: Simone Forti (work in progress)
Director & Editor: Eric Nordstrom
Created with financial support from the Regional Arts & Culture Council.
Simone Forti’s dance work creates a direct line through the era of postmodernism, while providing a paradigm for dance making which counterpoints long-held approaches. Having her voice present in the current landscape of dance practice offers both a historical presence and stays grounded in current contemporary action.
Currently, in her eighties, Simone Forti continues to perform improvised choreography in international settings, providing an opportunity to examine questions of “What is a dancer’s body?” “What is a dancer’s relationship to that body?” and “What can the somatic and improvised approach to composition contribute to the field of dance at this moment?”
My intention in making the film, Standing on Gold: Simone Forti, is to educate: to help expose Simone Forti’s work and creative process to a new generation of dance artists and to the world at large. I was able to interview Simone at her home in LA, as well as attend and film a workshop she held in Portland in 2013, providing much of the content of this film, but it’s only a fraction of Simone’s story. The film discusses the workshop and how exercises for the workshop were developed, but this is not the story of her life. That would take far longer than a 30-minute documentary film.
To me, Simone’s work is very meaningful because it comes from a place of self-exploration—of being able to use your body as a research tool for creation. This is also the lineage of the work I, myself, am interested in. Simone provides an example of a long-developed career in this type of work and has become a role model to me for both working and living. In a way, by understanding her life, I hope to understand possible trajectories for my own career.
Upcoming and past screenings of Standing on Gold: Simone Forti
- June 16, 2018 at Performance Works NW, Portland, OR: webpage and information
Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present (2017)
Director & Editor: Eric Nordstrom
Assistant Editor: Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies
Music: Ben Martens
Created with financial support from the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Ronni Lacroute.
SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: PORTLAND DANCE ARCHIVES: Full interviews and performance footage, featured in Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, are available online through the Portland State University, Special Collections: Portland Dance Archives.
Photo Basil Childers
Choreography Mary Oslund
Dancers Robyn Conroy Kautz and Daniel Addy
Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, has been two years in the making. Having danced in Portland, Oregon for a decade—with Oslund+Co., Keith V. Goodman, Tere Mathern, Linda K. Johnson, and POV Dance, among others—I feel like, before this film project, my knowledge of local dance history was limited. As a city, Portland has recently seen a lot of new people with an interest in dance arrive here, and through their own practices, they are becoming a part of a rich genealogy of Portland dance. I wanted to make this film for the Portland dance community—the dancers, choreographers, technicians, critics, and audience members— as an invitation to connect with the past, and to invite relative newcomers to recognize and learn about this history of Portland dance and to honor those who built Portland’s contemporary dance scene.
In gathering the materials to make this film, I have worked in the archives at Reed College and Portland State University, which both contain a trove of documents in the forms of photographs of past performances, press releases, course rosters, and other primary sources from when both colleges were central to the dance community in Portland, and participated in the shaping of Portland Dance.
The most information has come from my one-on-one interviews with over thirty prominent figures from the history of contemporary dance in Portland. Many of the artists with whom I spoke had their own archives—old VHS tapes of their performances, often relegated to closets or basements. Part of the goal of this film is to take this material, preserve it, and to centralize it. This is one part of the film about which I am especially excited.
With this film, my intention is to do three things:
- Gather information about Portland dance history through these interviews and this archival footage.
- Preserve this information by recording the interviews and converting artists’ VHS videos into a digital format.
- Coordinate with the PSU to create the Portland State University, Special Collections: Portland Dance Archives to house footage of the seminal performances referenced in the film, and some of the interviews in their entirety. Available online at http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/pda.
I created Moving History to explore my own lineage of dance in this city. Moving History is an effort to begin to capture and preserve our city’s rich history and to create a call for others to preserve their own lineage within their own dance practices. This film offers one window onto the rich history of dance in Portland. The voices in this film are just a few of the many who have contributed to this history. Thank you to everyone who offered their experiences and perspectives.
Upcoming and past screenings of Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present
- June 16, 2018 at Performance Works NW, Portland, OR: webpage
- December 9, 2017 at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR: webpage
- October 21, 2017 at Dance Studies Association, Columbus, OH (excerpt)
- October 13, 2017 at Northwest Screendance Exposition, Eugene, OR
- June 13, 2017 at Portland State University
- May 21, 2017 at University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
- April 6, 2017 at Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum: webpage
- June 25, 2016 at Performance Works NW, Portland, OR: webpage
Press for Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present
- April 03, 2017 Portland Tribune by Lyndsey Hewitt: ‘MOVING HISTORY’ LOOKS AT DANCE IN PORTLAND
- APRIL 5, 2017 Oregon ArtsWatch by Jamuna Chiarini: DanceWatch Weekly: Zipping through dance history