Looking Back on 2017 | Making Our Dent In the Universe With Dance Video
Happy New Year!
2017 was an incredible year filled with so much dance. I pinch myself constantly, because I get to do what I love.
THANK YOU to all of our amazing clients that make our work so worthwhile. It is a blessing to be in the dance world and to film in theaters all over the country and specifically in New York City.
Before the holidays, my team and I spent time together celebrating one another and reflecting on all of the projects we’ve done with you in 2017. I opened our last team meeting of the year with some quotes from books that I find inspiring and useful in staying motivated in my own work in the dance field.
In “Rework,” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (creators of Basecamp), they write “to do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference.” You need to feel you’re making your dent in the universe. Working toward something that makes someone else’s problems or challenges go away. Helping others. Making a positive impact on an industry or the world.
This is a time when we are discovering our purpose.
I truly believe dance makes the world a better place. And at NSP, we are making our dent in the universe by giving dancers the chance to better showcase their work, reach wider audiences, fundraise for their projects, and more. We love creating stories and videos.
All of our projects from 2017 are important in shining light on your fabulous work. Below is just a peppering of some of the year’s videos. It wouldn’t be possible to include everything NSP worked on, but I wanted to give you a peek at some of the filming and editing we’ve done in the past year!!
We were really excited about making a video for The Rudolf Steiner School. The challenge was figuring out what else to say (they already have an institutional video that explains the Waldorf method of education and gives a sense of the school). After interviewing faculty, students (we interviewed our daughter, Gracie, too!) and parents, we decided that we wanted to focus on what people feel about Waldorf education – what makes it so special to them.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with New York Live Arts for many years now – and we have a great partnership! We work directly with Lili Dirks-Goodman, NYLA’s marketing director. What we love about Lili is that she understands the importance of storytelling and sharing the process of making dances. We loved creating this promo video with Walter Dundervill, who is incredibly creative and also very kind!
We have also worked with DEL (Dance Education Laboratory) for years, filming their workshops and archiving the lessons they impart to dance educators and the work they do to put dance educators in every school. Dance For Every Child!!! We can get behind that!! It was especially moving for us to create this video tribute to Diane Duggan’s exceptional teaching and contributions to the dance education world. She is an amazing person, and we’re so lucky to be able to capture her wisdom on camera!!
Of course, NSP filmed dozens of live performances in 2017. We’ve shared small moments from many of them, including these highlights from Pam Tanowitz Dance‘s New Work for the Goldberg Variations. We always welcome the challenge of filming and editing a work performed to live musical accompaniment. The dancers were incredible and the theater space was gorgeous. Pam nailed it.
Vail Dance Festival has a program titled NOW Premieres where they commission choreographers to set work specifically for the Festival. This year, they commissioned Lauren Lovette, Claudia Schreier, Michelle Dorrance and Pam Tanowitz – ALL women choreographers – for a special program ‘Celebrating Women Choreographers.’ There are so many gifted performers at Vail each year. Showcasing these gifted women choreographers as well felt really special and important.
Dance/NYC‘s New Yorkers for Dance series brings advocates for the dance world in front of the camera to discuss important reasons why dance has a vital place in our city and our world. Filming artists like Simi Linton has been such a pleasure and reminds us that we are all doing our best to make our dent! An inspiring series to film and edit with a great advocacy organization like Dance/NYC.
Jacob’s Pillow has been working tirelessly for the last several years on building and expanding Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, a collection of videos from the rich archives that dig back to performances from years and years ago. My professional relationship with Jacob’s Pillow began as a video intern serving in their mission to preserve dance history. Documenting dance talks and performances at the Pillow is still a huge part of what I do every summer. I am thrilled to be a part of the creative online space that is Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, because now more people can see dance at the Pillow from their own homes! And future generations will have access to so much of this rich history online!
We’ve created a variety of fundraising videos for nonprofits and dance companies this year, and this one stands out to us because of its unique position in thanking its community of donors after the gala event. 92Y held a HUGE gala celebration, which we filmed with multiple videographers across several rooms to capture the energy and excitement of their annual fundraiser. This video was created quickly directly after the event, so 92Y could send it to all the attendees (and those who missed it) and keep the energy going!
Neil Folberg, a photographer in Israel, reached out to us to film and create a promotional video for his work while on exhibition at Flomenhaft Gallery in New York. Neil’s new book, Taking Measure, is a limited edition run and it is incredibly beautiful. He told us the reason he reached out to my team was because his wife is a dancer and he wanted a filmmaker who knows movement and looks at things in a more creative way. I loved that he was outside our usual clientele but so interested in the skills it takes to do our dance film work. I loved that!!
Blakeley White-McGuire is one of those amazing beings that when you have the pleasure to work with her you MUST do it!! Her eloquence, kindness and incredible dance artistry is beyond inspiring. Blakeley is a performer, a teacher, a choreographer and she came to NSP to help her put this all together to share with the world who she is. We interviewed her, filmed at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art where she teaches and filmed her dancing Martha Graham work as well as her own work.
Every summer, Christopher and I have the privilege of photographing and filming pretty much everything that happens at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. This past summer, we had the chance to film behind-the-scenes of Pilobolus Dance Theater‘s ‘Branches’ – a world premiere / Jacob’s Pillow Dance-commissioned work on their famous outdoor stage. We conducted interviews, filmed the work, and one of my interns even flew a drone to capture footage above the stage!
We filmed the first ever Chita Rivera Awards with American Dance Machine for the 21st Century in 2017!! And let me tell you, on the red carpet, I had to work REALLY hard on not being starstruck!!! I love musical theater, I always have! To stand right in front of the cast of Come From Away (my favorite musical right now), to interview Robbie Fairchild (whom I adore), to be in the presence of David Hyde Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth and Chita Rivera herself… I call this Musical Theater Heaven!!!
Nine years ago, New Jersey Hall of Fame asked if I would make videos about each of the inductees to play before they were each inducted. I made these videos for six years with Don Jay Smith and Steve Edwards. I learned more than you can ever imagine about New Jersey!!!! Last Spring, Steve asked me to make them once again to induct the 2016 class into the Hall of Fame. Inductees included my fave Kelly Ripa, Wyclef Jean, Carol Higgins Clark and Connie Chung, to name a few.
Sending so much love, joy and peace. May 2018 be the year you fully feel you are making your dent!!
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.