The abandoned Nesom Natatorium at Northwestern State University was recently the site for a new dance film, “Candy Apple” by BODYART.
Thirteen NSU dance students and three other dancers were featured in the film “that explores women’s self-realization through the context of media,” according to Director Leslie Scott. “Candy Apple” was inspired by Busby Berkeley and Niki Minaj, featuring overhead dream ballet sequences and gestures that explore gender normativity and the hypersexualization of the female body.
“I taught a dance + tech class during the pandemic for the dance students,” said Scott. “During this class one of the students shot her final film project in the Natatorium and I was immediately taken with the decayed space. I have a long history of working in abandoned spaces and was excited to create a work that was in direct response to the space and the lives that did, or now no longer, inhabit that space.”
Scott said the project was made in partnership with Brett Garfinkel, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at NSU. Garfinkel is a former member of the BODYART Company and is a longtime collaborator with Scott.
“BODYART draws a lot inspiration from abandoned places,” said Scott. “In 2014, BODYART launched The Decay Project, a film residency program where BODYART collaborates with communities that have experienced economic or natural disaster. The Decay Project uses dance and movement practices to encourage residents to celebrate and reconcile their personal memories surrounding a place that has been destroyed, helping those most affected to move forward. The residency culminates with a dance film that captures the essence of a lost space and its impact on the community.”
First-year student Jillian Duggan of Shreveport was part of the cast and said the opportunity to be part of a film will help her as she pursues her dance degree.
“It was really challenging because the choreography and facial expressions were very specific,” said Duggan. “You must be focusing and thinking about what you’re doing the entire time. Being a dance major, this was the perfect opportunity to really start my resume. I got to dip my toes into the world of commercial dance, and it will definitely be a deciding factor in what type of dance career I want to pursue in the future.”
“Candy Apple” is the fifth dance film to come out of The Decay Project. It is the first in a series of films and performances that will investigate the hypersexualization of the female body. Scott plans to submit the film for consideration to be shown at film festivals.