Susan Haines wins international recognition for dance film "the three graces"
In fall of 2020, WWU Director of Dance Susan Haines was looking for a way to offer dance students a safe performance opportunity during COVID. She was able to gain access to Ann Morris' Sculpture Woods - an art studio and property that was recently gifted to the College of Fine and Performing Arts. The property is both retreat and collection of Morris' work, featuring numerous mythically-inflected life-size bronze sculptures.
This performance was my first that I had worked on in a virtual space. After learning the set phrases we were also given time to explore our own individual movement through moments of improvisation. Filming on Lummi Island was incredible. It truly felt like a magical realm. We were surrounded by trees of all colors, crisp air, and beautifully crafted sculptures. Exploring movement as a small group in person felt powerful. Letting movement be inspired by the sculptures around us helped shape the vibe and overall feeling of our movement. I am thankful for the moments of unison in movement the dancers shared as well as the individual moments to explore our movement with inspiration and connection to the sculptures. - Sarah Seeberger, dancer
The dancers in "the three graces" rehearsed over Zoom, and then met in person at Sculpture Woods to complete the choreography and filming. "The dancers had to do a lot of creative problem-solving to dance through a landscape they had never seen," says Haines of the on-site work. "Everything came together beautifully."
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the filming process. It had been my first time dancing in person with my peers in half a year. But, when we began filming something just clicked. The combination of the woods, Ann’s sculptures, and our movement created an almost ethereal energy that effortlessly drove the project. I am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work with Susan, Ann and my fellow dancers. - Bailey Kager, dancer
Haines worked with composer Bruce Hamilton on the music. Haines and Hamilton have collaborated on a number of dance films that have been screened at international festivals in Dusseldorf, Prague, and Portugal.
"Bruce's music lends a dream-like quality to the movement and visuals" says Haines of Hamilton's music in "the three graces."
When "the three graces" was complete, Haines submitted it to a number of film festivals, garnering an April 2021 win for "Dance Film (Short)" at the Berlin Indie Film Festival. "the three graces" has also been accepted into an upcoming festival in Belgrade, Serbia.