Merce Cunningham: Night of 100 Solos | Livestream Recap
Back in July of 2018, Trevor Carlson and Ken Tabachnick of The Merce Cunningham Trust asked if I could film and livestream Night of 100 Solos: Cunningham Centennial.
When they told me it would be in three separate cities, I had to really think if this was right for NSP to take on. We document, we livestream, but could we take on three cities? We’re a small production company!!
I said yes, and like with most things in my life, I lived in the possibility. I have an incredibly talented and savvy team… we have done this all before.
I quickly ran through a list of each NSP team member in my head – each person in some way, shape or form was equipped to take on this huge project. I studied Cunningham technique in my BFA program in college and have always loved the work. My Project Manager, Cherylynn Tsushima and my Livestream Director Ben Richards took on the project with grace and perseverance. Each videographer who worked in the three cities have all been influenced by Merce Cunningham throughout their dance experience, and they have all worked on livestreams with NSP many times before. We were ready.
We came across a few struggles along the way (technology is always changing!!) but we tested, we tested again and we tested some more. I love trouble shooting, and I love problem solving – both of which are what livestreams are made of. Challenges have always motivated me.
Working with Trevor and Ken was such a pleasure. Working with each of the theaters was a treat. Collaborating with Davison Scandrett, who is the most brilliant technical director, was incredible.
Every aspect of this project made it pretty much a dream project for NSP.
When we had the first dress rehearsal in London, the test livestream went so well that my shoulders actually dropped!! I must have been tensing up with all of the focus. I took a deep breath, relaxed, and thought to myself, “we’ve got this!!!”
From that moment on, working on this project was one big adrenaline rush. This was HUGE – not only for the dance world, but for the world in general!! To have dance performances streamed live from three different cities, to have iconic dancers coming together to perform Cunningham’s work… I will never forget being backstage quietly directing my videographers on headset while watching the dancers run on stage from the wings.
In that moment, it was happening. My worlds were colliding.
Documenting dance, streaming live, Merce Cunningham. I will never forget this day, ever. It’s the end of May, and I think I am still on a high from this project!!! I want to do more, and I can’t wait to do more.
If you missed it, you can still watch the three livestreams above or on Merce Cunningham’s website until July, 2019.
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.