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Local Artist Premieres New Screendance

Two Harbors artist Kayla Schiltgen is premiering her new screendance, object permanence, on Sunday, December 4th via Zoom. The premiere will be accompanied by a Question & Answer chat with the artistic team behind the screendance.

What is screendance? Screendance is a hybrid art form that combines dance and film for a unique experience on the screen. The difference between screendance and dance film or documentary is that in screendance, the choreography is expanded through film techniques such as framing and editing. Thus a screendance couldn’t be performed in a live venue, because it was created to be performed on screen due to the special effects involved.

Screendance artists draw from different genres. Kayla Schiltgen says her work “leans towards experimental, non-narrative film, and I use improvisational movement rooted in postmodern dance aesthetics as well as draw on my training as a modern dancer.” Screendance artists can incorporate dance forms such as ballroom, jazz, ballet, and hip hop, and film genres can range from horror to comedy to narrative fiction.

Both curiosity and necessity led Schiltgen to become a screendance artist. Starting dance at the age of three, Schiltgen danced competitively until 11th grade. Her senior year of high school, Schiltgen sought out noncompetitive dance training in the Twin Cities, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in dance in 2010. For many years, Schiltgen worked as a professional dance artist in the Twin Cities, but crippling depression and anxiety led her to reevaluate her lifestyle. Schiltgen realized she had been forcing herself to live in accordance with urban values, a total removal of how she first started dancing as a child on her family’s farm.

In 2018, Schiltgen and her spouse, Eric Elefson, purchased a home in Two Harbors so she could return to her rural roots. She says, “I found that the natural environments of rural Northern Minnesota were not only supportive spaces to continue my dance practice, but spaces that encouraged entrance into a new creative field: screendance. It began when I would wander into natural spaces and film myself moving in response and in collaboration with the land around me, which is often more fulfilling than the blank dance studio.”

The biggest challenge Schiltgen has faced in screendance has been learning the film elements of the art. She completed a graduatelevel screendance course with master artist Katrina McPhearson through the University of Utah’s community education program, an experience she describes as “insightful and inspirational.” Online courses have been the key to Schiltgen learning how to edit, and a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board allowed her to purchase new equipment. Schiltgen says, “This will be a big challenge for me [learning to use the new equipment] as I don’t tend to have much patience for reading manuals. Luckily my spouse, Eric Elefson, who also helps me in my screendance practice as my Production Assistant, loves this kind of thing and has been very helpful in understanding the technology.”

Schiltgen describes her new screendance, object permanence, as “an act of curiosity pursuing my enduring wonder about visibility or lack thereof in a time of perpetual display. It is an abstract work that I hope sparks curiosity and questioning in the viewer in relation to their individual experiences with being seen or unseen.” Filmed in the forests surrounding Two Harbors, object permanence features an original score by Minneapolis musician Dean Sibinski. The 15-minute film was danced, choreographed, and edited by Schiltgen.

Tickets for the premiere can be purchased at www.kaylaschiltgen.com. She says, “I am so looking forward to connecting with the community through this work and to share in conversation about the artistic process.”

Schiltgen hopes to host a few creative movement classes for the community in the upcoming year. You can follow Kayla Schiltgen’s work on social media @kaylaschiltgen and sign up for her newsletter at: www.kaylaschiltgen.com. Schiltgen says, “I am deeply grateful for this kind of connection, it provides me with support and is integral to my practice.”

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