“Traversées” was the winner of BEST STUDENT FILM at the recent STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.
Chantal Caron, director: @fleuve_espacedanse
Produced at the L’École de danse de Québec (the film was created within the framework of the Final Year Project of our graduate students of the Professional Contemporary Dance Division – Year ’21) : @lecolededansedequebec
Get to know producer Viktoria Pomerleau-Sipos:
Blog interview for Traversées
Student & Young Artist FEEDBACK Film Festival
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Traversées (in English: Passages) is the first short film of L’École de danse de Québec (L’EDQ), a French Canadian higher educational institution specializing in professional contemporary dance training, directed by Chantal Caron, the artistic director of Fleuve | Espace danse, a contemporary dance company from Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, QC, Canada.
Our motivation behind embarking on the journey of creating a dance short together was first and foremost to provide a learning opportunity for our graduate students of the Professional Contemporary Dance Division (Year ‘21) who, due to the world pandemic, were facing a lot of uncertainties as to the means of presenting their Final Year Project to the public at the time, which was the last necessary step to earn their diploma. So, we could say that Traversées is the result of a school and its graduate students going above and beyond in order to bring a project to life in a new and unprecedented way when performing on stage in front of an audience was not a possibility.
The chosen theme of the project – which then served as the basis for Traversées’ theme as well – was the symbol of the witch, as reclaimed by the feminist movements of the last century. The dancers all saw a strong symbol of sisterhood, solidarity, resilience and vindication in this and wanted to further explore it in an outdoor setting, nature being an interest they all shared. Therefore, choosing Chantal Caron as the film’s director was an obvious choice for everybody as she is a renowned choreographer and filmmaker who creates dance short films using the force of nature, more specifically that of the Saint Lawrence River as her source of inspiration.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
The process of choosing the choreographers and the theme for the Final Year Project of each graduating class usually starts each year before the summer break. In 2020, however, we did not have this level of flexibility as everything was extremely uncertain at the time. The idea of making a short film instead of recording an indoor stage performance came to us in the autumn of 2020. The collaboration between the school and Chantal Caron started around the month of November 2020 with the elaboration of the film’s theme, in which the five graduate students took an active role. Then, the three-day long filming took place in February 2021 and the production team finished the work by August 2021. So, we could say that the film took about 10 months to make.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Fierce and captivating.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
It was definitely the natural elements that were the biggest obstacles the dancers and the production team had to face as the filming took place entirely outdoors next to the Saint Lawrence River in Québec, Canada, over a three-day long period in the month of February. So, this meant for the team that the filming of all the scenes had to take place in snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures. This setting was essential as the film’s plot revolves around five wild women choosing community over individuality to ensure their survival in a winter immersion that provides a parallel between the strength in sisterhood and the force of nature. Being exposed to sometimes extreme cold temperatures was quite the challenge for everybody, but thanks to the team of volunteers that accompanied the dancers and the production team, we were able to get warm when needed.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Honestly, we felt impressed and truly honored that so many people outside of the province of Québec took the time to watch and reflect on Traversées and give us valuable feedback on so many aspects of our short, starting from the quality of dancing, through filming techniques to costume design – just to name a few! We find the feedback version is very beneficial, especially to young professional artists like our graduate students for whom the creation of Traversées was part of an educational process.
Watch the Audience Feedback Video:
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Fleuve | Espace danse, Chantal Caron’s contemporary dance company was founded in 2006 and specializes in in situ choreographic works created and performed on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. However, it is long before that year that madam Caron started creating in situ work in an outdoor setting. In fact, the first such choreographic work she created dates back to 1993. Then, over the years since the foundation of Fleuve | Espace danse, madam Caron has discovered the medium of film for her in situ creations and has created several award-winning dance shorts while always staying close to her ultimate source of inspiration, the Saint Lawrence River.
7. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experience been working on the festival platform site?
We have been very satisfied with our experience using the platform so far. We find it facilitates the work of directors and producers a lot as most of the festivals can be found there and after searching for the right ones with the best focus for your film, the application process is quite easy.