Sharon McCaman is excited about this year’s Dance Shorts Student Film Festival. She knows that this year will be different, but she can’t quite put her finger on how. Perhaps more people will submit their original dance films. Perhaps the gala, where patrons view the work of the finalists, will be grander.
Perhaps it will be different this year because it is her final year running the show.
“It’s almost a little unnerving, for a couple of reasons – one, to know that I have to relinquish the outcome on a level,” said McCaman. “I have to walk away and say ‘Bye, see you later’. But in another way, to know that in ten years if this is still happening, I started that! It’s weird.”
McCaman started dancing when she was just 4 years old. She danced at her performing arts middle school, her performing arts high school, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a small dance company in Lakeland. She even danced in Las Vegas. But then, for five years, McCaman wouldn’t practice her craft at all.
During her hiatus from dance, her life moved in a different direction. She worked as a promotions assistant at an alternative rock radio station, moving up the ranks through various marketing and sales positions.
“So much of my job required me to be innovative and forward thinking,” said McCaman. “Although it was challenging, it afforded me the opportunity to be imaginative and artistic. That’s how I always knew I would go back to dancing, that need to create is inherent in me.”
When her reunion with dancing finally came, something amazing was born – Dance. Film. Revolution.
It was in Professor Andee Scott’s choreography class that McCaman discovered a genre of dance known as dance for film. Inspired by the way technology and dance came together to create this subset of dance, she came up with the idea to host a festival, where students at universities across the country could submit short dance films. Dance. Film. Revolution is a student organization created for that very purpose, producing the Dance Shorts Student Film Festival.
“We were at the library working on a big dance history paper, we kept switching gears between the paper and the festival, and by early morning, we realized we still hadn’t done this paper,” said Jacqueline Dugal, former treasurer for Dance. Film. Revolution. “That was the moment when we both realized it was going to be a really big feat to get this done, not just a side project. That night, Sharon dropped history.”
In 2013, the first year of the festival, there were 29 submissions from universities all over the country, with 16 states represented at the festival. Creating and overseeing a festival of that size was a lot of work, but McCaman’s spirit never wavered.
“She’d been coming to me with grand ideas from the beginning,” said dance professor Andee Scott. “She’d always been thinking about ways to present the work of students in the community. She knows how to dream big, and that’s good.”
With a whole team behind her, McCaman anticipates that this year’s festival will be bigger and better than the last. She hopes than in subsequent years the festival will continue to grow and reach more artists looking for an audience.
“We all want to feel valued and we all want to feel like what we do means something on some level,” said McCaman. “We want to know that we’ve been the best human beings we can be, that we’ve done the most we can do.”
The Dance Shorts Student Film Festival is currently accepting submissions for this year’s festival, and interested parties can learn more at the official website.