Moving Cities is an award-winning international dance project, started in London in 2014 by Jevan Chowdhury, founder of the video design firm, Wind + Foster. The filmmaker explores cities and videotapes local dancers in real-life urban locations and iconic settings around town. Back in August, it was announced that Dallas was the first North American city to get the Chowdhury treatment — following places like Athens, Paris, Barcelona and, of course, London.
Charles Santos, the director of TITAS, was a major connection here, steering Chowdhury to local performers and different places. As a result — as the copy for the video says –“Moving Dallas is an artistic comment on the city as it stands today. Not the JR Ewing and cowboy hats past portrayed, but as a city that means business with a growing and talented arts scene. … Caught somewhere between the genres of cinema, electronica and dance, Moving Dallas stays true to the original founding principle, that there should be no rules or drum beats to follow, as Dallas marches forward to it’s own.”
Our Visitors and Convention Bureau put up most of the money for it, so yes, it’s something of a commercial for Dallas, and yes, there are the cliches, but then some of the cliches about Dallas are undeniable: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the gleaming skyscraper-skyline, young women in Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots. But what’s really on display are the dancers — hip-hop dancers, a mariachi band from the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico and a pair of regal Indian dancers from the Indian Classical Heritage Foundation. Some of the leading local dancer-choreographers include Kimi Nikaidoh, Gayle Halperin and Albert Drake from the Bruce Wood Dance Project, which is a major presence throughout, as well as Artist Spotlight artist Nycole Ray from Dallas Black Dance Theatre (below).
They’re all shot in the midst of downtown traffic, on tops of buildings’ HVAC equipment, near freeway ramps and construction sites. Chowdhury loves planes, trains and automobiles — obviously, Moving Cities is about dance but it’s also about, you know, cities on the move. If anything, the Dallas video should have been even grittier — there’s no South Dallas here, no West Dallas. It’s all pretty much downtown and Fair Park. So yeah, we look good. But flat out, it’s a real showcase for local dancers and dance groups as much as the city.
Still, perhaps most remarkably, “In Dallas we found a city on high alert following the recent shooting. We were greeted with open arms.” The copy doesn’t indicate that this refers to the shooting of the five police officers in July, perhaps assuming just which shooting would be understood even by an international audience.
“A world full of talent in possession of undeniable swagger wrecks any thought of a sensitive soul. The slogan ‘Dallas Strong’ pasted everywhere unites a community with it’s own issues of inequality, poverty and a widening income gap. Moving Dallas doesn’t bury these complex issues, and just as the juxtaposition of ballet and cowboys hints at some of the marriages, it also alludes to the challenges the city faces.”