Behind the scenes July Video Project

Oliver Endahl

Hey everyone,

Today I wanted to share some of the process of the July Video Project. 

As you recall, I posted 1 video every day during the month of July to the Ballet Zaida Instagram, Facebook & YouTube accounts.

As I revealed after all the videos went online, all the videos were shot using an iPhone 6S Plus. 

The reason I used a smart phone to film the videos was to show you that anyone can make beautiful art, & that doing artistic endeavors is not out of your reach. 

To film the videos, I used the basic "Camera" App that comes pre-installed on the iPhone. (There are various video recording apps for the iPhone available, but I chose to use the basic camera app because I wanted to use the app everyone had access to.) 

There are some videos where the camera is totally still and only the dancer is moving, but for the videos where the camera is moving around the dancer, in order to stabilize the camera and achieve a smooth gliding effect, I used a Glide Cam HD 2000 

During the indoor video shoots, I would put on some music, give the dancers a general direction, and have them move to the music playing. (The music I played during the filming was not the music that was eventually featured in the videos)  

I played a lot of Ólafur Arnalds. This was fun, because on top of my verbal cues giving the dancer some guidance, the sound of the music also gave the dancer a general mood. If the song was slower & more solemn, the dancer would move more in that way. 

What's also nice about shooting in-doors is that during the video you can continuously give verbal cues to the dancers as they move. So for one shot you can be like, "Get back to back & utilize your port de bras" (port de bras is a ballet term that means "an act or manner of moving and posing the arms") Then after a bit you can say "Now separate & try some leg extensions" as featured in this video below. 

If it was an outdoor shoot though, like this one on the beach, I would tell the dancer some verbal cues before we started filming and a general vibe, but then during the filming the dancer couldn't hear me due to the waves and the distance. So we would shoot a take for 60 seconds or so, and then I would jog over and give her a new cue before starting another take. 

Also, moving for both the dancer and the camera man outdoors is no easy task. I found just walking while filming is incredibly difficult, much less dancing gracefully. 

For each video, I would film around 5 - 15 minutes of footage.

After arriving home from the shoot, I would offload the video onto my computer and use Final Cut Pro X to edit it.

The editing mainly consisted of me chopping up clips and putting them in various orders. So if I filmed a clip that was 60 seconds long, I would watch the clip and cut it down to 5-30 seconds and then place it in my main timeline of the video, along with a few other clips.

Once I had a few clips I liked lined up, I would experiment with overlaying music. This was my favorite part, because you can have the same clip of dancing and put it to one piece of music, but then you can try a different piece of music and it will completely change the tone and vibe of the video. 

Other than putting the clips in a specific order that had a good flow, the rest of the editing to the videos is very minimal. Once again, I wanted to showcase that you don't have to have professional camera knowledge, or intense video editing skills to make beautiful art. Everyone can do it. The editing to the videos I did was just a small contrast boost. 

(I'm familiar with Final Cut Pro because I've used it in the past, but you can definitely use other movie editing apps such as iMovie to create great videos) 

The music for the videos was a mixture of myself, Joshua Piper, and Benjamin Stewart. Each of us has a unique style that you can really hear through the music. 

All the music from myself, Joshua and Benjamin is available to download for free. Just visit our SoundCloud pages and you can download all the music from there. The reason we gave away all the music is because we want people to download it and experiment with making their own dance videos.

I actually started out by making music through Garage Band on the iPhone. (There's some songs in those videos I made entirely through the app) 

The July Video Project was a really fun event for me. I had a blast working and creating with all the different dancers. One video in particular was created a little later on during the project, but I'm a huge fan of it. Here's a bonus video featuring dancers Sarah Hay ( @SarahHayOfficial ) and Christian Novopavlovski ( @NovoPavlovski ) The music is Waltz in C Minor by Joshua Piper. Available as a free download at his SoundCloud.

All of you can make amazing art, and technology has made it easier than ever to create. Try and experiment with things. Take photos, make videos, make music, just experiment & have fun! You've got nothing to lose. 

-Oliver Endahl


July film project wrap up

This is the last weekend of our Ballet Zaida film project.  Every day this month we have posted a different short video.  At 31 videos thats an amazing undertaking!  You can watch the videos on our Instagram, Facebook page, or Youtube page.  We hope you enjoyed them.  Be sure to like and share your favorites!  It's a really easy way to help us spread the word about dance!  Also remember that all the music is available for free download. Click the links below to explore the artists' music!

Oliver Endahl music

Joshua Piper music   

Ben Stewart music

Thank you to the amazing composers and dancers who helped make this project a reality!

Next week we will get back to our normal once a week blog schedule.  Check in next Saturday to read a post from Jeanette Kakareka!

Joey Contreras - Replay

This week we have guest contributor Joey Contreras!  He is the awesome composer behind the music for our new film Replay.  You can learn more about him on our Composers Page.   To follow his career and check out some of his music visit his website, Instagram, and Facebook pages! 

Photo by Aesthete and Derive

Photo by Aesthete and Derive

Joey Contreras


REPLAY is a track I co-wrote with Chris Abell. Prior to this, we had worked on a lot of my contemporary musical theatre material, so when Ballet Zaida approached us to craft a song for a film project, we jumped on the opportunity to really sonically dive into something new. We started with a lot of palette building - auditioning synths, bass lines, rhythms - until we locked into something that inspired us not only to keep going and write lyrics, but also could live in a physical dance world. The moment Chris suggested the lyric - "You said you'd walk away from me" - I knew the vibe and the story immediately.

REPLAY represents the many colors of addiction. I wanted the music to ebb and flow through all those dynamics: The cold, the dark, the sensual, the patterns. I'm proud of it and very happy that Ballet Zaida provided a jumping off point for this musical and visual exploration.

Keep checking in to learn more about the piece and find out the release date!

Ballet Zaida Films

We are currently working hard on new Ballet Zaida films.  We are excited to film them in the new year and to get them out to you soon.

The work we do with these pieces is very exciting.  We use original music, concepts, and choreography.  We are lucky to know so many talented people and to be able to bring so many great artists together.

Throwback to behind the scenes photo of Nesoi film shoot. 

Throwback to behind the scenes photo of Nesoi film shoot. 

Since our artists live all over the country, these are not produced in a traditional manner.  We rely on cell phone video, email, and text to get the choreography and music back and forth across the world.  Then we all come together for a few days to rehearse and film.  We feel very fortunate that we live in a time that this type of art process is possible. 

If you'd like to watch the first four films we released and learn about some of our composers and choreographers check out our film page

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My top five underrated dance music videos

Stephen Jacobsen

My top five underrated dance music videos of all time. These are the videos made by artist not generally revered as especially talented dancers, but through their music videos exemplify everything that I love about dance. These are music videos not focused of technical dance skill, but the joy and spirit of dance. They remind me that it’s not about the steps being danced, or who’s dancing them, but why we dance in the first place. These are dancers in the truest sense, those who love to dance. There will be no Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, or Michael Jackson on this list, because they have received more than enough props for their works, as great as they may be.

5.  Around the World - Daft Punk -A piece so funky and fun, the video does not employ a slew of highly trained dancers, instead using talents from worlds such as synchronized swimming, relying on relentless musicality to build an amazing energy that sends shivers down my spine on every viewing. Especially when the group inhabits the lyrics literally, and pace around the stage - around, around, and around the world. Also, it’s directed by the genius Michel Gondry, known for his films The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

4. Praise You - Fatboy Slim -An impromptu performance on the sidewalk in front of a movie theater to the Fatboy Slim classic. A musical, well danced, knowingly spastic, and wonderfully realized expression of dance for the joy of dancing. The choreography might be closer to jazzercise than classical ballet, but in a world before flash mobs, this was a revolutionary idea that brought a little more magic into the world. Then when the cd skips, and the group is cheered to finish there performance... gets me every time.

3.  Chromeo - Come Alive-A group of mannequins ... come alive... in this amazing music video by the Canadian duo from Montreal. The dance is themed and spirited, and when one of the band members - as the videos security officer character- gets in on the action, it reminds us of something we forget far too often in the dance world, that dance can have a sense of humor.

2. Beirut - Elephant Gun-Genius timing with burst of modern dance, in a style that has since become a staple in the industry, is so effective its hard not to get teary eyed at the energy being displayed on screen. Beautiful, effective, and musical, an absolute joy of a music video that makes you love the song they’re selling.

1. Feist - 1234-Filled with - “How did they shoot that?” - moments, so creative I get jealous from my lack of involvement upon each viewing. The steps are so simple that they should have become a wedding dance floor staple, yet they somehow dissolve me into tears every time, especially when the groups of brightly color coordinated dancers go audibly cheering across the floor. Shot in one long take, using so much invention, that the drab wear house it was shot in becomes a hot bed of dance genius. Not a single Barishnikov in the bunch - at least from what the video shares - a perfect example of what this list is about. It’s not what steps are being stepped, or who’s stepping them, but why and when they’re being stepped. Probably my favorite music video of all time.