Documenting Dances for the New York Public Library

by | Jul 11, 2023 | Performance Video

My team is always honored whenever we get to contribute to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at The New York Public Library, the largest archive in the world devoted to the documentation of dance!

We work with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the NYPL often, either at the request of an artist or the library.

Recently, we had the pleasure of filming three dance companies for the NYPL archive: Ronald K Brown/EVIDENCE Dance, waheedworks, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company!

 

Mason, one of our videographers & editors, shared:

“Filming and editing EVIDENCE Dance is always a joy.

I first filmed them in 2018 at Jacob’s Pillow and always look forward to capturing the company again and again! The movement and the music has a way of making me feel like I’m dancing with the dancers onstage, making the experience feel so full of life. This past summer at the Pillow, Michelina and I (my fellow videographer on the shoot) filmed The Equality of Night and Day together, and to see its NYC premiere was quite a treat. Until next time, EVIDENCE!”

It’s so special when we get to work with a company for multiple premieres.

Filming waheedworks at The Joyce was a fantastic experience.

Tommie-Waheed Evans was a Dance Research Fellow with NYPL in 2021, so documenting this work for the NYPL archive felt extra special! 

Our videographer Michelina shared:

“There’s an emotional connection when I film dance, and being able to film waheedworks with Nel Shelby Productions at The Joyce Theater is an incredible experience that’s difficult to describe in words. 

As the dancers moved and sang together, I moved with them through the lens of the camera, capturing their love, sorrow, and resilience. I felt a strong sense of importance in preserving this message through film, and Tommie-Waheed Evans’ choreographic work can forever live on through this digital format. 

During our brief conversation of gratitude for each other’s work, I felt his passion, love, and kindness; and it reminded me of how connected we all are as artists in telling our truths to the world.”

Finally, we had the absolute pleasure of filming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company at New York Live Arts.

The Jerome Robbins Dance Division is the home of the company’s archive.
We originally filmed Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s newest work last January. After some challenges through the pandemic, we picked up where we left off and headed to New York Live Arts to film it again a few weeks ago. 

It’s always really interesting to see how much an artist’s work has shifted– many changes were made within the year since we saw it last. I’m always so impressed by all of the elements the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company brings in. Some performers are singing while others are painting their bodies and the scenic design has many screens… all of these different elements created a real challenge for us, which is fun!!!

With 3 cameras, our team’s goal was to find the best way to tell the story of the piece.

“I’ve been working with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company for such a long time now. I can thank my connection with New York Live Arts and their amazing team for that!! 

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but my very first date with my husband, Christopher, was a Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company show. I don’t remember the venue space, but I do remember that it was a really intimate performance. Both Christopher and I have had a real affinity to Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s work. Because of this, filming the company always feels like going back home.” – Nel Shelby 💕

Nel Shelby is Owner & Filmmaker for Nel Shelby Productions, her New York City-based company dedicated to dance videography and editing. Nel shares her mission to preserve and promote the art of dance with her husband, Christopher Duggan, a dance and wedding photographer. They collaborate on projects with dance companies of worldwide renown, up-and-coming choreographers, dance educators, dance schools and more. Nel is Video Producer at Jacob’s Pillow and Vail Dance Festival and is also the proud Director and Producer of PS DANCE! — a New York Emmy-nominated documentary about dance education in NYC’s public schools.