DIRECTOR Mitchell Rose is ready to send you on a feel-good trip around the world in a mere four minutes and thirty seconds. In 2014’s "Globe Trot", a Savannah Film Festival Super Shorts! competition entry, the choreographer/filmmaker combines the disciplines of film and dance to impart a sense of global unity and inspire a warm celebration of diversity.
Rose has led a luminous career in modern dance; even after extensive touring and the formation of New York-based Mitchell Rose Dance Theater, an innovative company that merged movement, acting, music text, projections, and comedy, he was still hungry to explore new fields of art.
“I had a dance company in New York for fifteen years, traveled doing that, and felt like, okay, I’ve done this. I want to move on,” Rose relays.
He became a Directing Fellow at The American Film Institute Conservatory in 1991.
“After ten years, I got a fellowship at UCLA to explore ways to film dance,” Rose explains. “I just thought it would be a fun, educational experience for me; I didn’t think it would become a career path, that’d I’d become the ‘dance film guy.’”
But ‘the dance film guy’ he is, with the New York Times even crowning him “the dance world’s Woody Allen.”
Rose’s work distinguishes itself through a technique he refers to as “hyper match-cutting.”
“It’s cutting an image perfectly so it replaces the preceding image,” he explains, “which I’ve found to be a really exciting technique and keeps the viewer really engaged.”
Watching “Globe Trot,” you’re seeing a complete, seamless dance routine: it just happens to be performed by 111 individuals and shot by 54 filmmakers.
“There were really two elements that made me interested in this,” says Rose. “One was that further exploration of hyper match-cutting. The other was, I always had a fascination with remote collaboration.”
Working with choreographer Bebe Miller, Rose uploaded a video explaining the concept and created a 15-page manual for participating filmmakers and dancers.
“It’s always been fascinating to me: how accurate can I get people to follow instructions?” Rose says. “Just like that cliché of the pilot has died on the plane, and the control pilot has to talk someone down into landing the plane. Can I direct camera people remotely all over the world?”
He certainly can. With the participation of 54 filmmakers in 23 countries over seven continents, including Antarctica, the creative response to Rose and Miller’s invitation to collaborate was overwhelming.
“Our premise was to use non-dancers,” explains Rose. “I thought that would make a statement of global unity if it didn’t look like all pros. The premise is that anyone can learn two seconds of choreography if you take time to work with them. As long as it’s limited to two seconds, and you spend ten minutes working with them, you can get anybody to do anything. Three seconds is pushing it.”
The dance itself has an ease and innate joy to it; with an array of backdrops, from the Eiffel Tower to train tracks to cornfields, “Globe Trot” is an eye-opening glimpse into each dancer and their home.
“I always wanted this to be a statement of world unity,” Rose says.
“There’s a visual phenomenon in hyper match-cutting: when one shot takes the places of another shot, it says, ‘These things are equal.’ It kind of says the A clip and B clip are equal, and I wanted to extend to the overall theme of the whole piece that the people of the world are equal. Seeing all these diverse peoples all around the world participating in one choreographic thread suggests that.”