Michelle Thompson - Replay

This week we have guest contributor Michelle Thompson! She is the amazing choreographer behind Ballet Zaida films Nesoi and Rem.  She is also behind our newest film Replay.  You can learn more about her on our Choreographers Page.  To follow her career check out her website and Instagram.  To see her previous Ballet Zaida Films check out our Films Page.

Michelle Thompson

Replay has been a really wonderful project to work on. One of the reasons it has been so great is because Nicole is such an easy artist to work with. She always works with a willingness to grow and expand, and I find her beauty inspiring. Adding Erin Crall, Alice Cao, and Imana Gunawan to our cast was also a treat.  These talented dancers watched videos I created in my New York apartment and then absorbed the final touches of the choreography the day before we filmed in Seattle. Finally working with Oliver is so enjoyable, efficient, and fun. He understands and appreciates my choreography and the dancers, and uses his own artistic lens to add even more meaning to each piece we work on together.


            Initially Replay was a challenging piece for me, because the music displays more of a modern and pop style than the music I usually work with. At the same time, it was a wonderful challenge that pushed me to make different movement choices. After much personal reflection and speaking with Oliver, we decided to lean into the music rather than resist it. I allowed myself to make new choices especially once we arrived in the film space. It’s definitely not a music video, but if I were to make a music video it would have some similar elements.

           The other interesting part of Replay is that there are elements in the lyrics that already gave me a direction to go in. Many times when I am creating, I choose music that relates to a theme or tone I am interested in exploring, but it is not always explicit. With Replay, the words encouraged me to look at the dancers, the space, and the environment of the piece as a journey through repetitious behaviors. In history and in personal lives, we see patterns that can sometimes cause pain or a lack of freedom. This is a universal idea. I can remember studying history in school and seeing entire nations repeating behaviors that cause great disagreement and pain. I myself have repeated poor behaviors. These behaviors can replay over and over until there is a shift.

           The music helped me decide what I wanted the tone and theme to be, and it told me where to go with the movements and the spatial architecture of the piece. Initially when we started the piece two years ago, Nicole’s journey was not as clear to me, and we all decided that we needed to add more dancers to amplify the piece. With the reincarnation of the piece in Seattle, we see Nicole being pulled back to the three women and we can start to see a relationship form between her movements and their movements. The three women help construct a world and feeling that swarms around Nicole. At the end of the piece the three dancers are clasping her and symbolically cementing her to this environment, and she makes a decision to break free. She runs out of the frame and out of this world, which she created. This is this most important moment in the piece for me, because she decides to change the pattern of her life for better. We cannot forget the patterns of history, but we can choose to learn and then let go. 

Photo Michelle took of Nicole during rehearsal in 2013.

Photo Michelle took of Nicole during rehearsal in 2013.

Read previous posts from Affinity Nicole Voris and composer Joey Contreras to learn more about the piece.  Check back in to learn more and find out the release date! 

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!


Nicole Voris

The latest film will be called "Replay."  The song was composed by Joey Contreras and the piece was choreographed by Michelle Thompson. You can learn more about them on our film page

They will both be writing blog posts about the piece before we release it. Check back in here to learn more about it.

So even though this is the latest film we have put together, it was actually one of the first films we started working on.  Back in 2013, Michelle and I started working on some material.  We decided it would work well with this new song Joey had sent us.  We were really excited to put it together, but we were on a bit of a time limit.  Michelle was pregnant with her second son at the time and we wanted to finish it before she had her new baby.

Meet Oxford.  He is now 2. 


We actually did get to film the material before Oxford was born. Unfortunately we didn't feel like the footage we got was good enough.  It was a very difficult decision for us because Steven Myers had done some incredible lighting in one of the Ballet Austin studios.  It just didn't feel like the piece was finished yet.

Here are some photos from that filming. I'm glad we can still at least share some photos from that day and the amazing lighting!



Last year we finally decided it was time to re film the footage.  At the wedding of mutual dancer friends, we and Michelle met someone who had recently worked at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle.  We felt really drawn to the space and decided this was the place. We also decided to add a corps and change the color scheme.

Over the course of the last few months I have been rehearsing the material, sending footage to Michelle, and she has been responding with notes.  She also created new choreography that we sent to the corps so they'd be familiar before we arrived.

In January we flew up from Los Angeles and Michelle flew over from Manhattan and we met with three lovely ladies who live and work in Seattle.  We really appreciate the time and hard work of Erin Crall, Alice Cao, and Imana Gunawan.  We rehearsed Friday and filmed Saturday.  I'm so excited to share this wonderful work with you.  We are very passionate about our films and distributing them to the world.  Please like and share to help us reach as many people around the world as possible.

Projects you care about are important.  Even if it takes years.  Since the time we started this project Oxford was born, Oliver and I got married, we moved to Los Angeles, and Michelle and her family moved to New York. The piece was really good two years ago, but here two years later, with such much personal growth among us, I think it is incredible.  I hope you enjoy watching it!