How the LA Dance Film Festival is Inspiring this Young Choreographer

by Kristyn Burtt | 7/11/2017 2:58 PM

Frank Soares on

Photo credit: Frank Soares

On Thursday, Jan. 26, the West Coast will have the opportunity to experience a new film festival — the LA Dance Film Festival — run by LA Unbound director Betsy Uhler and choreographer Alexa Roman. The organizers are aiming to create “opportunities and exposure for dance films to unite the LA dance and film communities.”

One of the participants is an LA-based dancer and choreographer Frank Soares, who used a stint at Tokyo Disneyland to inspire his entry, Where Are You Now. The piece utilizes exterior shots in Tokyo Station, the beachfront and countryside.

Soares talked about the inspiration to create his LA Dance Film Festival entry.

Courtney Franklin [his co-star] and I were on contract at Tokyo Disneyland and we wanted outside inspiration — outside the Disney magic — something more real with a bit more of a backbone,” says Soares to Dance Network.

What started out as an opportunity to play around with choreography and dance for themselves turned into a video project when director Steven Diaz asked if he could film their work. The group took on the challenges of shooting on location in Tokyo, Japan.

Frank Soares on

Photo credit: Frank Soares

“There were times when officers were asking us to leave, but we would try to weasel our way into an extra five minutes of shooting — despite the language barrier,” he laughs.

Sometimes even the passengers waiting for a train would try and get into the shot as well. Soares says it was “hard for them to separate themselves from the public” because as dancers in the piece, they wanted to create their own world.

Of course, they were also environmental obstacles as well since it was raining and they were often performing outside on asphalt while barefoot.

“Courtney and I danced like we had brick feet and danced like there was no pain,” he jokes. “The weather was kind of challenging.”

Soares is motivated by the use of technology and YouTube to get his work seen beyond the scope of the LA dance scene.

Frank Soares on

Photo credit: Frank Soares

“I personally love it getting the views and feedback from people who don’t always watch dance,” he explains. “It helps you build and develop skills for your next project. It’s a valuable tool for dancers.”

The 25-year-old artist already sees his career beyond performing and onto the creative side of the industry. He’s currently honing his choreography skills at a competition dance studio and teaching master classes in the area.

“I’m still figuring out my niche and where that’s going to take me, but I know I like to see my work done by other dancers versus me performing my own work.”

Soares’ dream project will extend the length of his films and work with a different style of dance.

“I like to mesh different styles of dance so they all become one together,” he says. “I would like to make a film with a longer and more diverse story.”

Even though Soares is still young in his artistic career, he does offer sound advice for other aspiring choreographers in the industry.

“My greatest advice is to think outside the box. Don’t always fall back on those same moves you do over and over again,” he sums up. “It’s also OK to take a step back from a project if you are stuck. Give yourself time to regain that creativity.”