48th Dance on Camera Festival NYC

48th Dance on Camera Festival Lincoln Centre NYC: 
“Shift” by Claire Marshall: Judging Status = “SELECTED”

I’m thrilled to report that my dance film “Shift”has been accepted into the 48th Dance on Camera Festival Lincoln Centre NYC. Inaugurated in 1971, this prestigious festival is the longest running dance film festival, and has an incredibly history with the work it has programmed. 

You can read more about the festival here:

Shift was created as an experiment as a part of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne last year. This is the first time my work has ever been selected for programming by this festival. 

Due to COVID19 and regulations in NYC, the festival will be online this year so that means it will be viewable from Australia! My film screens Sunday morning of the 19th  of July (aka late at 2am on the Saturday).

Tickets go on sale on the 1st of July 2020. The schedule is here:

In the lead up to the screening, the festival requested an interview with dancers Lucy Hood, Richard Causer, cinematographer Kevin Holloway and myself as the choreographer and editor of the film. We were interviewed by Alicia Graf Mack – former dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey, and current Director of the Dance Division at The Juilliard School!! The interview was recorded by former Paul Taylor company dancer, Michael Trusnovec!! It was truly such an honour to meet Alicia and Paul.

Once again, thanks to the small team who worked on this film: Richard Causer, Lucy Hood, Kevin Holloway, and friends who let us film at their place/ business/ birthday parties, as well as Amelia Le-Bherz for doing make-up over the 4 day shoot. 

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Showreel

Someone recently pointed out that it is the year 2020 and my two showreels present work from 2000-2009. The “stage” and “screen” showreels were beautifully edited by Jane Wallace in 2009. That was before I had made a lot of work including Hey Scenester, Slowdive, Video Set, and Flaunt, and not to mention long before having commenced dabbling with dance film and even more daunting: editing my choreography.

My first dance film “Pulse” in 2012, was filmed with hand held DSLRs, thanks to Jane Wallace and my brother (filmmaker) Grant. Upon completion of the shoot, they informed me that it was time for me to learn to edit my own work. I was initially reluctant, however they patiently mentored me through editing Pulse. I had some struggles as it was engrained from years of making and seeing dance for the stage to want to frame the whole body, so learning to use mid-shots and close-ups took time. With more practice I eventually realised what an important tool editing was; not just for the sake of editing, but as an additional layer to the choreography.

As a choreographic tool, editing has changed processes by how I choreograph live work. When piecing work together, rehearsals are recorded and dropped into a time-line, replacing old forms of using Post-it notes!

My understanding of a showreel is to promote work and highlight the best parts. However, in making a showreel sometimes the editing drives a new story, carving micro narratives and, for dance, how the movement connects is an important factor. Each snippet of dance when cut together from various works (as existing stories) then essentially forms a ‘new dance’ in the edit with the music and cinematic elements all suggesting some sort of meaning or evoking emotion.

Needing to update my 2009 showreels, I assessed footage and decided to make a few showreels around the categories of my work as these have different audiences/ functions/ aesthetics.

Editing the dance film projects saw two different 5-minute reels emerge.

Dance film reel version 1:

Dance film reel version 2



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Shift (dance film) Part 1

As the creative output of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, I am making a series of experimental dance films.

One of the many things I love about doing my masters at the VCA is that I am exploring ideas I would not otherwise consider. Having the opportunity to experiment has seen the birth of new ideas and new creative processes. “Shift” is the second of my dance film projects as a part of my MFA.

Richard Causer and Lucy Hood

It was great to be reuniting to work again with dancer Richard Causer, and cinematographer Kevin Holloway.

Lucy Hood was someone I had not worked with before, but she was a delight.

The idea was to film as much of the duet in as many locations that we had permission to. Rehearsals saw excursions to locations to test and adapt the choreography to the locations.

Following the 4-5 days of rehearsals we went straight into a 4 day shoot. Working with a small crew meant working quickly. Over 4 days, we filmed in 17 locations.

The budget was tight so I wrangled most locations in kind. It meant pulling favours from friends who were generous with the use of their homes and businesses.

In some locations where we were permitted to film, we could not gain exclusive access, so four awesome young humans helped us hog the playground!

One of my favourite locations was Susan and Chris’s 1950’s home. They were incredible hosts and we lunched together on set. Host(s) with the most! Left to right: Amelia Le-Bherz (make up artist) Chris, Susan, Kevin, Lucy, Richard.

A section of choreography was adapted to their incredible pool.

Another location was Phase 4 Records and Cassettes. It’s one of my favourite record bars in Brisbane. Business owner and music gurus Julie and Donat were so kind letting us carve up the choreography at their store.

A long time student, Kirrah was having her 19th Birthday the weekend of the shoot. Her family have been long time supporters of dance and have been so kind to me over the years. I thought that a birthday scene might be an option and Kirrah’s family were fine with us crashing Kirrah’s 19th. I don’t think Kirrah even knew we were rehearsing there. Older sister Sabrina had been so helpful in all the organising.

Mrs Jobst made the dancers a coffee between rehearsals at her house.

My Friends Steph and Dave were so kind to let us film at their house. Unfortunately, the chandelier didn’t last the entire shoot….

The four days of filming went well (sans chandelier incident)
The next step is editing… I have no idea how this is going to turn out. Embracing experimenting!

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Test Pressing Project 2: Silt (dance film) Montages

Somber Edit
Clunk and Disco edit

Cast: Maddison Campbell, Kirrah Jobst, Amelia Le-Bherz, Paige Rasmussen.
Choreographer/ Producer/ Editor: Claire Marshall 
Cinematographer: Kevin Holloway. 

Silt was created for four dance students who were 17, 18, 19, and 20 years of age at the time of filming. The four enthusiastic student dancers worked with Claire Marshall to extend dance experiences at a pre-professional level. The full version of Silt is 10-minutes and premiered in Brisbane in December 2019.

Resembling a music video narrative where the cut-a-way moments create the narrative and the dance phrases are the “performance”, this more abstract dance film “Silt” is entered around four characters who find escape in a quaint little beach in the middle of the Brisbane CBD. The beach situated on the edge of the Brisbane river sees many people pass by, as well as vehicles zoom over the large structure of a bridge above. However, for the characters, it’s a place they connect as people continue to pass by going about their busy lives. Juxtaposed to this sense of freedom and escape, their movement output is deliberate clunky and hard, resonating their surroundings.

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‘Splat’ Screendance experiment

As a part of my Master of Fine Arts (Dance) at the VCA, ‘Splat’ is a dancefilm experiment with just one key action repeated identically in a number of locations, with different cutting techniques. 

Through a repeated ‘fixed’ movement, the variables of location and editing set up a frame work for the considerations of meaning making around a fixed movement. 

The idea was to remove ‘dancing’ from the equation in order to negate any chance for the body/ dancer/ movement of the human to lead the meaning. Rather, by keeping the movement identical in every take, I investigated how meaning of the movement is constructed when situated in various locations and repeated through editing. While even one gesture might have various connotations, if the movement is the same every time, it creates a more fixed ground for critique.

Here are some stills from this project:

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Test Pressing Project 2: Silt (dance film)

Test Pressing Project 2: Silt (dance film)

Youth Dance project ‘Silt’ was created by Claire Marshall in 2018 for four dance students who were 17, 18, 19, and 20 years of age at the time of filming. The four enthusiastic dancers worked with Claire in her Test Pressing Project Group which was created to extend dance experiences for enthusiastic students, and provide experience outside the traditional realm of dance. The group comprised of two students were first year QUT dance performance students, one student who had recently graduated QUT, and one who had just finished high school. These four women worked with Claire in 2017 and in 2018 were keen for to work on a dance film project with Claire.

The abstract piece is created around four characters who find escape in a quaint little beach in the middle of the Brisbane CBD. The cut-a-way moments create the narrative and the dance phrases existed as moments of connection in the performance.

The Captain Bourke park (beach) situated on the edge of the Brisbane river sees many people pass by, as well as vehicles zoom over the large structure of a bridge above. However, for the characters, it’s a place they connect as people continue to pass by going about their busy lives. Juxtaposed to this sense of freedom and escape, their movement output is deliberate clunky and hard, resonating their surroundings.

Silt was created for four dance students who were 17, 18, 19, and 20 years of age at the time of filming in late 2018.

The four enthusiastic dancers worked with Claire in the Test Pressing Project Group which was created to extend dance experiences for older students who were seeking experiences beyond eisteddfods and dance school recitals.

Yes, they got their feet wet. There was a section of choreography where the dancers were required to roll forward. However translating that to the location, meant rolling uphill. The dancers all shot each other a knowing glance before Claire said, “Ok, we are going to roll the other way: down the slope”. When they got to the edge of the water, Claire said “Keep going”. Keep going. Keep going”. They did.

Every dancefilm seems to have something rugged to contend with. For Silt it was dancing on sand, dancing in mud, and rolling into the Brisbane River.

Choreographed by Claire Marshall (2018) 
Cast: Maddison Campbell, Kirrah Jobst, Amelia Le-Bherz, Paige Rasmussen.
Cinematographer: Kevin Holloway 

Stills from frame:

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San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2016

Saturday, October 22 | 9:30 pm

Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th Street, San Francisco

Ward of State was screened tonight in the San Francisco Dance Film Festival in the last of the International Shorts section. It was surreal to see my film overseas. It has been screen internationally in North America, London, Italy, and in Mexico, but I’ve never been present to see it screened overseas until the festival tonight.

The San Francisco Dance Film Festival runs for 5 days at the Brava Theatre.

Following the screening, the choreographers/ producers were invited on stage to talk about their work. (I only made one Dad joke).

The Festival commenced with the US premiere of Rudolf Nureyev: Dance to Freedom and was a stand out – a 90 min film focused on his defection from Russia. AMAZING! This was screened at the beautiful Taube Atrium Theater, Veterans Building with a very informative Q&A with the director. I stayed until the end when people were leaving and took a photo of this theatre.

Here’s some photos from the past 3 days in San Francisco and at the festival.

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Australian Dance Awards September 2015

The beginning of 2015 was spent catching up on post-production aspects of 2014. There was Flaunt footage and recital footage to cut, a music video to choreograph, and a business to keep running (Mill Street Studios).

Some fantastic news came mid-year: the shortlisted nominations for the Australian Dance Awards:
http://ausdance.org.au/news/article/australian-dance-awards-2015-shortlisted-nominees

Actually, prior to this step, there’s a list of eligible works for nomination, on which people can vote. To make the shortlisting is a massive deal. My film Pulse was shortlisted back in 2013, and I flew to Canberra to check out the awards and see some amazing performances.

To be shortlisted again was (this time for Ward of State) was an honour. In 2015 the ADAs were being held in Adelaide and the focus was on Australian Dance Theatre (being based in Adelaide). As much as seeing ATD would be enough to coax me to attend, 2015 was a very busy year and I initially I didn’t think I could take the time to attend. It took some convincing from friends and colleagues to get me to go. I was glad I went as I got to see some amazing work by ADT, and Ward of State won the dance on screen category!

Garry Stewart read out the nominations, opened the envelop and read out “And the winner is, Ward of State by Claire Marshall”. It was definitely a moment I will always remember. Being presented the award by Garry Stewart and Carol Wellman Kelly was probably as much a highlight as it was the film winning the category! To be presented by Mr Garry Stewart was such an honour as his work is amazing and ADT is one of my favourite companies for a long time. Here I was, this relatively unknown choreographer from Brisbane, being presented with an award by one of my dance heros.  It was surreal!

Her Majesty’s Theatre is so beautiful, and it was such an honour to be standing there in front of many of my dance heroes and thanking those who were a key part of the making the film (be it funders, cast, creatives etc). Following my speech, I was escorted backstage and out for some photos with Garry and Carol, all while feeling quite overwhelmed! Here’s a few of these photos (by Shane Reid), almost as proof to myself that this actually happened!


It was also amazing to have the support of Ann McLean and Ausdance Qld attending the awards with me. Former head of Dance at QUT Dr Cheryl Stock was also present and her encouragement was appreciated. ,

WARD OF STATE by Claire Marshall

Ward of State is a 30-minute narrative dance film about a girl who was taken from her mother and stepfather and placed the care of the state in a Magdalene Convent Laundry. Set in the 1930’s- 1940’s Ward of State depicts the journey for both the daughter and her mother characters and their relationship. It delves into subject matters of abuse, neglect, and mental illness.

Ward of State is inspired by research into my family genealogy and my quest to understand things that occurred in the past. A significant portion of the narrative and characters are based on what I learned about my family’s history going back a few generations. I also drew from research and interviews with women who were wards of the state.


On Ward of State my role was as a choreographer, storyteller and producer. I know a little bit about film from being on film sets over the past 15 years, and I made my first 10 minute dance film at the Powerhouse in 2012, which was inspired by the space and its history. That creative development became more about working with the camera, lens and the space/location.

Ward of State spanned 2.5 years from research and the birth of the idea to the screening in December 2014 at the New Farm Cinemas. However, despite things taking longer than I anticipated, with my experience working on film sets, I was aware of what when into a film and was involved in most aspects of the film or was able to go to my brother (film director) for advice, guidance and mentorship.

What makes this different to a traditional live dance work is that it is choreographed with the camera, the lens, and framing in mind. It’s also choreographed with the location in mind. We also rehearsed 
in a studio, so often that meant having to adapt choreography to a different space, or far more squeaky bed. Working with such high caliber dancers, we were all able to work quickly together.

I’ve learnt a lot from choreographing music videos over the past 15 years, but it was most rewarding to take dance – as an abstract form, and use it as the language of dance in conjunction with film language to make a narrative work about something so close to my heart. No dialogue was required – the movement and film and music allow audiences to read the narrative. Dance and film and “dance film” is also a highly transportable form.

As an independent artist in Queensland, it often seems like there’s an expectation that artists work from one project to the next. However, the past 2 years I have been operating more as a one person company with various projects on the go, some spanning a 2 year period and some ongoing through it. Projects were sometimes put on hold for other project, at other times I was working on 3 projects at once (ie, Ward of State, SlowDive, Flaunt), as well as managing a business, teaching, choreographing some music videos, and numerous other little short term jobs.

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