Tender, Sexy, Powerful, Reflective: 5 Minutes With Saira Barbaric. (Plus More in Dance Film News)

Saira Barbaric’s artist residency at Base culminated in a complex, joyous dance film, unveiled at the artist’s open house on 10/15. 

Plus: Fuselage Dance Film Festival is this Saturday, Seattle Queer Film Festival runs through this weekend, and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s dance film festival submissions are now open. 


Saira Barbaric: A Note to Zora   

Screened at Base Residency Open House

There are five minutes comprising Saira Barbaric’s new dance video, and if you pop in for any single one of them you’re going to get the wrong idea of what the film is all about. 

There’s a slow ritual, face shrouded. A seamless jump, mid-swoop, from inside the studio to out in the yard, and back in again. Candles, incense. A sleek black dance floor, the rough gravel of an industrial space, surrounded by fabrications in various states of doneness. Clothes shedding, more methodical than a cast-away striptease but not a drawn-out, it’s-all-about-the-boobies, burlesque. A curved cane in one hand is a centerpiece, not an “in spite of.” Smiling face, jiggling ass, showing a lot, but in mesh illusion.

The short — titled A Note to Zora, which Barbaric explains is a reference to anthropologist and author Zora Neale Hurston’s extensive work “recalling and logging Black American spirituality, mythologies and rituals” — feels like a dancer’s embodiment of both the solemn and the joy in ritual.

Saira Barbaric’s ‘A Note to Zora’ (videography by Ettie Wahl) screened on Base’s giant wall at the Residency Open House on October 15. Photo by Chase D. Anderson.

The result is both the sum of and greater than its parts. Barbaric’s dance, and videographer Ettie Wahl’s film capturing it, is a refusal of the bounds of walls or the tethering of place. To the viewer, it’s an offering of both calmness and energy. It’s a gift of freedom to reflect and to jiggle along with that ass from your seat. The beat — a slow-to-thumping “This Side” by EarthGang — is infectious. The joy is inviting. And the film’s accessibility in bringing you into that joy — there’s nothing to “get” as a prerequisite to joy, no matter how many layers may occupy and undergird it — is liberating. 

At a recent open house, the ritual carried through in the communal space, the feast on breakfast food, the happy chatter of strangers turning friends, under the glow of the film’s premiere projected on a massive wall at Base, in the labyrinth of Equinox, a maze of creator spaces beyond concrete and chain link fence in a part of Georgetown that’s more industrial than bar strip. The ground we had trod over — gravel, sagging steps, a dance floor made for leaps and flops — turned hallowed watching on film what the dancer had made from it. 

When the five minutes were up, we cheered and murmured that we could stand to watch it again. And cheered again when they obliged. 

Keep an eye out on the festival circuit for future screenings of A Note to Zora. In the meantime, read more about the Base Residency here, and view the artist’s website here



Fuselage Dance Film Festival @ Yaw Theater 

Runs 10/22 only. In Seattle (Georgetown). 

Images from the festival trailer, courtesy of Fuselage Dance Film Festival.

This Saturday, the long-running Seattle-based dance film festival shows off this year’s selections.

The one-night-only festival is held at Yaw Theater, which shares a wall with Base, where Saira Barbaric’s film was danced and shown.

Films selected in this year’s festival are: the construct of one (directed by Hayden Americus Rivas); Mascara (directed by Luli Brindisi, Alesso); RIND (directed by Jordan Kaya); I Made The Ruins (directed by Sar Cohen, Ricardo Bouyett); Suck it Up (submitted by Baye & Asa); Bustin’ Loose (submitted by Karla Puno Garcia); Under the Tracks (directed by Alexander Petit Olivieri, Alia Swersky, Roel Seeber); Bonheur / Happy Place – Dance Short Film (directed by Maxime Beauchamp); The Late Bloomer (directed by Amnon Sivan); Bert the Turtle’s DOA (submitted by 2Faced Dance Company); and The Pointe (directed by Morgan Dukes).

Performs 10/22 only. Tickets ($16) available here.



Seattle Queer Film Festival  

Runs through 10/23. In Seattle (various locations) and online.

This year’s Seattle Queer Film Fest has a ton of great movies, most of which are not about dance. But one gorgeous dance film is the short I Don’t Need a Reason (directed by Luke Willis), with ballet by Lady Camden of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, performed both in and out of drag. It runs before the feature film Chrissy Judy on Friday at the Erickson Theatre (on Capitol Hill), or virtually through 10/23.

Another great pick? The “Saturgay” Morning Cartoons slate, showing at MoPOP this Saturday early-afternoon — that’s “morning” enough for some of us — or streaming through 10/23 with a virtual pass. One of them involves theatre expressly, and several involve playing roles. (Full disclosure: I was on the screening committee that selected these, so I’m biased, but I also know it’s a great and varied lineup.)

Festival through Sunday (10/23), in-person at various locations and streaming on demand. Tickets and schedule here



Pacific Northwest Ballet Dance Film Fest 

Accepting submissions through 12/5

Dance film creators should note that Pacific Northwest Ballet’s submissions window is now open, through early December, for its next dance film festival. See more information here.


Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of