The hit French film, Rise, by Cédric Klapisch, makes its U.S. debut this month. It tells the story of a ballet dancer on the precipice of stardom who suffers a devastating injury, while also learning that her boyfriend is cheating on her. Her path of healing puts her in the contemporary dance world, as she discovers new things about herself, dance and her heart. The film brims with beautiful dancing, and is written with an authenticity rarely seen in films about dance. The combination makes the work both ethereal and relatable. Responsible for the choreography and also for playing himself is Hofesh Shechter, who spoke to Dance Informa about what it was like to be part of such a successful film, how the stage and film are different, and why film can be so wonderful for dance.

How does it differ to choreograph for the stage verses film in terms of process?

“I didn’t need to choreograph specifically for film, or with the thought of having a camera there. Quite the opposite. There was a sense of allowing cameras into the studio and into the reality of our life. For me, the exciting thing about choreographing for camera specifically is the perspective. When I make stuff for the stage, the audience is sort of stuck in their seat. It’s like a wide shot. In terms of cinema, you get the opportunity to either bring the audience literally into the happening, or show them elements or details that they would otherwise won’t see. The medium of cinema takes away something from dance because one of the most powerful things in dance is the ceremonial aspect of it. The fact that 1,000 people or more sit together watch it; the energy of this is just incomparable. You can’t quite get that on the screen. But you can get details and subtleties that give another power to the thing.”

When you’re working on a film of this scale, do you have specific camera angles in mind to build the dance around, or do you create the dance and let the Director of Photography (DP) handle all the camera angles?

“When I make my own dance films, I am my own DP. So, I do think about camera angles. Very much. It’s not always the same if you do something for the stage and if you do something for the screen. You have to understand what is more effective. But I certainly think about camera angles, because that’s part of the excitement of bringing a camera in. The most exciting way to see dance through screen is to forget that you’re watching it on screen.”

Check out the full interview here