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Bringing Dance to the Silver Screen

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For many years, Rachel Swenson was a professional dancer and dance instructor in Utah, and her resume is a mile long. Now, she's an instructor of dance at the Idaho Fine Arts Academy and, most recently, the co-director of the Idaho Screendance Festival.

"My thoughts were, I really wanted to further filmmaking in Idaho and dance as an art form for the State of Idaho," she said. "One way to broaden audiences is to combine."

The festival, which will run Friday-Saturday, April 26-27, at the Boise State University Special Events Center, will screen 36 films with a common subject: dance. It's a "virtual museum" created by filmmakers to showcase a particular performing art.

In its first year, it's already showing signs of success. Roughly 40 films were submitted from every corner of the planet. "At least a dozen" entries came from Idaho, Swenson said, but submissions also came from Australia, Canada, France and South Korea, where filmmakers learned about the festival through the Film Freeway submission process. The weekend of April 13, Swenson and the festival's adjudication team whittled down the list to 36 films, some of them just a few minutes long, that will be screened at the festival.

Filmmakers took a multitude of approaches to the festival's prompt: Some films are abstract, capturing little more than bodies in motion, while others lay out narratives. One submission takes on the sticky subject of bullying.

Swenson said film can transform dance the way it has already transformed the theater, by taking a work of performance art and making it into an artifact that can withstand the test of time. She added that Idaho has a wealth of filmmakers who can use the festival as a springboard for their careers and make a lasting contribution to the arts in the Gem State.

"[They can create] a visual work that can broaden audiences and be shown over time all over the world," she said.

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