This spring, Concord Academy’s Film/Dance/Music Co-Lab broke barriers with its multidisciplinary art collaboration.
Dance program co-director Rika Okamoto’s Choreographer’s Workshop and Dance Technique classes created original dances to songs by music teacher Nate Tucker’s Digital Music Composition class. Students in the Special Topics: Cinematography course taught by film teacher Justin Bull P’25 used their creative lens to capture the action.
“The natural crossover of the three disciplines is something I’ve always been interested in exploring with the students,” Bull reflects. “They all share a common language of composition, rhythm, and motifs.”
Teachers mentored students while giving them room to explore their creative ideas. “The best thing about this interdisciplinary collaboration is that we had complete freedom over the style of choreography,” dance student Irene Jiang ’24 says. “Each of the four student choreographers brought distinct approaches—from hip-hop to contemporary. My inspiration came from my past experiences in jazz and K-pop dance, as well as the bold electronic music by Anni Taylor ’24 and Kai Feingold ’24 I selected.”
The film students observed early versions of each dance and began generating visual approaches for the work. “We started preparing for the shoot weeks before the day by creating a mood board that covered aesthetics, lighting techniques, and cinematic choices that we wanted in our film,” student Lucas First ’23 said. “We then created a shot list and a blocking chart so that we would know exactly what to do on shoot day.”
All students gathered for the final filming at Windy Films, a Boston-based studio founded by CA alums Tripp Clemens ’09 and Harvey Burrell ’09. The collaboration served as a full-circle experience for Bull. “As their former teacher, it’s always a humbling experience to interact with Tripp and Harvey,” he says. “They’ve built an impressive production company with a CA-centric mission at its heart. … Tripp was a film student, but he was also part of the dance company in his time at the school and participated in a similar collaboration as both a performer and filmmaker.”
The project culminated in an all-school film assembly on May 19. The energetic films delighted the CA community. Lucas says, “The collaboration between the film, dance, and music departments was an opportunity I have never had before. Working before, during, and after the shoot with students from all three programs to create a finished product was unbelievably satisfying. Our teachers gave us the resources, and we were allowed to use our vision to create something special.”