Breaking Ground in Dance through Film

Rebecca Salzer wins Presidential Research Award
Rebecca Salzer wins UA’s Presidential Faculty Research Award.

From the July 2017 Desktop News | Upon entering Rebecca Salzer’s office, the first thing one might notice is a blue glass trophy sitting on her table. While lovely to look at, it also boasts an accomplishment earned by only a few UA faculty members each year.

Salzer, an assistant professor of dance, received the President’s Faculty Research Award at UA’s annual Faculty Research Day which is meant to showcase research done by faculty in all fields.

“Winning the award was really wonderful,” Salzer said. “All of the other finalists are unbelievable. It was really an honor to be in their company and to win the award.  It’s also wonderful that the University acknowledges the research of its art makers alongside other research in the sciences and humanities.”

Her research centers around dance for the camera.  Salzer directs, choreographs, shoots, and edits dance-films, and is working to explore ways in which recorded dance can be made more intimate for audiences.

“I’m not interested in making something better than a live performance” Salzer said. “Live and recorded dance should not be in competition in my view; they should be complementary.”

Salzer also hopes that a move towards more recorded dance will benefit her students. She said it is sometimes difficult to find complete works of choreography online to show her students, and hopes in the future this will change.

“As in every other art form and information source, the online world is becoming essential to what we share and what we receive,” Salzer said. “I’m interested in asking more questions and pushing the dance field as a whole to bolder thinking in that arena.”

Under her tutelage, students went on to create the Dance Alabama! Film Festival, and in its first year, there were 10 submissions with original choreography and musical scores. The film festival was held on February 1 at the Ferguson Student Center Theatre and is a separate event from live Dance Alabama! performances. Salzer said she is expecting growth in the next festival.

In the last year, Salzer’s dance films have been featured in 10 festivals throughout the world including the Loikka Dance Film Festival in Finland, the Montecatini International Short Film Festival in Italy, Danca em foco in Brazil, and the Third Coast Dance Film Festival in Texas, where one of her films won Best of the Festival.