UNZIPPED Dance Film Review – Uncontained Dreams

As the beat from Kaytranada’s Vivid Dreams slows, viewers may feel a time warp. We see the dancers reflect this, moving slow-motion after a hard-hitting, rhythmic, driving section of dancing that opened the film moments before. Like music, in a split second the dance could change, and with film as the medium of witnessing, that change is even more dynamic. We see a dancer wave her arms side to side, very slowly, with a metallic square of tape covering her mouth, muting her. Cut to another dancer with the same tape, moving slowly with the warped sound. Next cut is to a dancer effortfully relieving herself from the bondage of the tape: we can feel her exhale.

Shot at nighttime with the backdrop of a pop-up installation of Bjarke Ingels’s Unzipped sculpture, combined with the camera angles, back-lighting, this is the perfect set for the story Torti tells.

In the opening shots, we don’t know where we are. A building? Outside? We see curves, lines, and shadows cast from the sculpture, creating visual illusions based on where the camera is. The camera follows a dancer, no tape over his mouth from the get-go, scanning his surroundings. Lights shine through the opaque yet translucent fiberglass boxes that make up this peculiar sculpture, setting up a dream-like environment for the dancers to inhabit.

“...In a dream I can see you disappear…” River Tiber sings as Kaytranada’s beats start to rev up. Two dancers appear behind this first dancer, with that shiny silver tape covering their mouths. More dancers appear behind our main dancer and the beat launches them into their first group section--bodies tugged and thrown around by the beats Kaytranada crafts.

The music, the moves, the camera angles, and the editing are all constantly related throughout this energetic short.

The moves tell us how to hear the music, and the music shows us how to see the moves--such is the relationship of choreography and music. It is only amplified with the added layers of camera angles and editing, allowing for a whole new visual experience for the audience.

Torti tells us a story not only with her choreography, but also with her editing style. Sharp and fluid movements reflect/align/express/live within the music. Double exposures, sharp jump cuts, zooms in-to-out, out-to-in, in relationship with the music, choreography, each dancer, portrays an inspiring story that could make us feel alive and motivated, ready for action.

By the end of the film, each dancer has shed their metallic muting tape, free to express and live in this dream-state with no constraint. We see the dancers passing the next move as if in a relay race for dance. One dancer takes the previous move, repeats it, adds another move, which the next dancer takes and adds to, etc., blurring and cutting to the next dancer via video editing. Each dancer uniquely occupies this space, yet they are tethered together through movement, always related as they coexist in this dreamlike world.

Turns out dreams cannot be contained. Whatever limitations we put on ourselves, we can just as easily take them off. This is the message Caroline Torti, choreographer and director of Unzipped, reveals to us in this short dance film.


Cast/Creatives List:
A Hallowed Grounds Production
Directed by: Cameron Roden and Caroline Torti
Choreographed and Edited by: Caroline Torti
Executive Producer: Fabio Buritica
Cinematography by: James Arthurs and Cameron Roden
Karly Bon
Thomas Colford
Amanda Donato
Peter D’Souza
Kris Grzella
Andrew Kyrzyk
Kae Kae Lee
Miha Matevzic
Marcello Ranieri
Nicole Rosove
Assistant Camera: Edward Hernandez
Key Makeup Artist and Hair: Alison Henthorn
Assistant Makeup Artist and Hair: Viktor Peters
Behind The Scenes: Christine Do
Coloured by: AJ McLauchlin at REDLAB Toronto
Music: “Vivid Dreams” by Katyranada ft River Tiber
Thank You to Westbank Corp.
Shot at B.I.G. “Serpentine Pavillion”

For more videos from Hallowed Grounds, visit Hallowed Grounds YouTube Channel and Hallowed Grounds Instagram and Hallowed Grounds website.

For more about Caroline Torti, visit Da Costa Talent’s website.

For more about Bjarke Ingels’s Unzipped sculpture, visit Unzipped Toronto website.

For more about Kaytranada, visit Kaytranada’s website.

All photos by Cameron Roden.

Learn more about dance by seeing dance through dancers eyes in the Picture This Post series, “Choreographers’ Eyes - Dancers Explain Dance”.  Watch this video preview of the story here— 

Sarah Stearn

About Author:

Sarah Stearn, a native of Chicago, is a dancer and videographer. She has recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BFA in Dance, and is excited to be back in the city. Currently, she works with Tuli Bera as an administrator for J e l l o Performance Series.

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