Dance professor’s film reaches global audience


jennifer keller

Oct. 20, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "Ferry," an experimental short film directed and choreographed by Jennifer Keller, Slippery Rock University dance professor, will be screened at the Nov. 6-8 Bucharest International Dance Festival in Bucharest, Romania.

The three-minute film, which Keller shot at North Beach in Cape Charles, Virginia during her sabbatical last semester, has been shown in Italy, Brazil, Ireland, Canada and in New York, Washington and California.

Keller said her color film is unconventional because it lacks dialogue and relies on movement to tell the story of a woman reflecting on her life and losses while standing on a dock.

"Some people may speculate that there is very little 'dancing' in the film," Keller said. "I focused on pedestrian movement that occurs at the seashore, such as walking through pilings, floating in the water and carrying armfuls of sand."

Keller said she aimed to convey life's sense of loss and challenge.

"As a choreographer, I felt I had to personalize the sense of loss and longing with a woman reminiscing on her past while she looks out to sea," she said. "She struggles to accept inevitable change; we see her acting desperately in one scene, futilely attempting to put the sand from the beach back into the ocean. She eventually floats in the water, as a form of surrender."

"I was inspired by the location I scouted in Cape Charles, which was a remote end of the beach that revealed old pilings from a passenger ferry dock," she said. "The location seemed a metaphor for the town of Cape Charles itself, which has many vestiges of a prosperous past that was devastated when the ferry stopped running in 1963."

Keller said she has worked as a choreographer before and finds common artistic ground between directing people, understanding space and the action involved in dance.

"I hope the story is resonating with audiences," she said. "We can all identify something in our past that brings us happiness to remember but also sadness in knowing that we can't return to it."

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