Thursday, August 06, 2020

"Ground Effect"

John Speed Orr and Terez Dean Orr in
Ground Effect

Possibility. Freedom. Joy. We all could use more of these three themes right now. And one place to find them reflected is in the San Francisco short dance film scene. This month saw the premiere of a fantastic new film that reminds the viewer what is possible, what is freeing and what is joyful.

On August 4th, Terez Dean Orr, John Speed Orr and Elliott Bastien Morin released their third film created with camera phones and virtual platforms during shelter-in-place (read my May CriticalDance interview with the trio While the earlier two pieces center around their home and neighborhood, Ground Effect finds T. Dean Orr and J. Speed Orr (current Smuin Contemporary Ballet artist and former company member respectively) traversing the highway and dancing in picturesque outdoor environments. The three and a half minute journey affords viewers the opportunity to see where these two individuals, introduced in previous films Shelter in Pace and Recipe for Disaster, are as we near 150 days of isolation. It is open and hopeful – conceptually and choreographically.

Terez Dean Orr and John Speed Orr in
Ground Effect
Ground Effect
’s visual landscape conveys such an evocative, genuine tone through its many layers and textures. Loose earth and the winding roadway; flower arrangements and lilting grass; the wind weaving through the dancers’ hair – every element combines to produce an atmosphere of freshness and newness. Egalitarianism is also undeniable throughout. Driving in a car and curiously peering out the window, nodding off in the backseat, pulling over to the side to check out the view – these are states we can all relate to. Black and white footage makes Ground Effect clean and cool, as does its amazing angles and shots. I am so curious as to how they captured the stunning, shadowy aerial views.   

Equally elegant from a choreographic standpoint, Ground Effect’s physical syntax is all about forward motion and freeing energy. Running lunge steps abound while swirling partnered spins pepper the phrases. Elastic arabesques meet outstretched arms and expansive solarplexus. And some motions and sequences have an inventive avian-inspiration, like the two dancers could float and fly away like graceful, soaring birds. Such buoyancy and levity are indeed a necessity for 2020.

Check out Ground Effect at

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