The Co-Laboratory

The Co-Laboratory is a unique collaboration between two teams of choreographers and filmmakers who will create two short dance films in a week, shortly before the annual fall festival. The intention is not to create the perfect film, but to bring professional artists into the atmosphere of a laboratory, one that challenges them to think collaboratively and explore possibilities for expression outside their fields, hopefully inspiring future creative relationships among local artists. To learn more, watch the behind-the-scenes video below, filmed during the project’s first year.


Funded in part by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the Co-Laboratory is an annual event to inspire and support local artists of different disciplines to collaboratively create dance films for local and global audiences. The two original interdisciplinary works for the screen will be premiered on the closing night of the festival at the Brava Theater Center.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, San Francisco Dance Film Festival Co-LaboratoryFleishhacker, San Francisco Dance Film Festival Co-LaboratoryZellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Dance Film Festival Co-Laboratory

2016 Co-Laboratory

SFDFF is excited to announce the 2016 Co-Laboratory filmmaking teams. This year we will be pairing dynamic choreographer Nicole Klaymoon, Artistic Director of the Embodiment Project, with Chinese/Danish-American writer and director Joe Stillwater. We will also be pairing two award-winning artists, choreographer Deborah Slater and filmmaker and cinematographer Hervé Cohen. The teams will have one week in September at the Djerassi Arts Residency Ranch in Woodside, California, to create two short dance films.

It is an intense and challenging collaborative experiment in which the artists have the opportunity to learn from each other and create something new using forms of expression they may not have much experience with. We can’t wait to see what they create. Follow along on social media. We will be posting videos and photos of the process all along the way. The films will screen at our festival in October with a behind-the-scenes look at the process and an onstage Q&A.

Team 1

San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Co-Laboratory 2016, Joe Stillwater Joe Stillwater

Joe Stillwater is a Chinese/Danish-American writer & director. His films are based in both dream logic and tactile reality. Aesthetically, his work focuses on the control and articulation of rhythm and movement. While mimicking the movements of machines and wild animals, small gestures in his work become magnified and moments lock together to build the film as a kinetic vehicle for human emotion. Thematically, Stillwater is influenced by the space, spirit and colorful/stark montage of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, the children’s stories of Tomi Ungerer, the haunting control of Japanese Noh theater and the lost world of the unkept child. These frameworks draw attention to themes of chaos, diaspora, natural organisms, elegance, care and emotional restraint. He’s been selected to participate in various labs, such as the Tribeca Film Festival Hacks Lab (incorporating film + technology), and the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s Pitch Lab. In addition to his directing career, Stillwater also has a parallel life as a sound recordist, and films he has been involved with have screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival, SXSW, Chicago International, Tribeca and SFIFF. He holds a B.A. in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz.

San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Co-Laboratory 2016, Nicole Klaymoon Nicole Klaymoon

Nicole Klaymoon is the Founder/Artistic Director of the Embodiment Project, a dance company that interweaves street dance, live song, documentary theater, and spoken-word to create emotionally transparent narratives that serve as unifying political acts. Klaymoon is currently a resident choreographer at the ODC Theater and received a B.A. in Dance from UCLA and an M.F.A. from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Klaymoon is currently a resident choreographer at the ODC Theater. “You can have a first encounter with an artist who pushes you right to the edge of your seat… such was the case with Nicole Klaymoon.” — SF Bay Guardian

Film Info

SFDFF, 2016 Co-Laboratory Films + Local Shorts, Joe Stillwater, Nicole Klaymoon
The Wind Telephone

(USA, 2016) 6:20
Director: Joe Stillwater
Choreographer: Nicole Klaymoon

Team 2

San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Co-Laboratory 2016, Hervé Cohen Hervé Cohen

Hervé Cohen is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer and has traveled the world to capture compelling stories for international productions: from the Amazon, filming a musical poetic piece about environment, to the countryside of China, following the work of three traveling projectionists; via Senegal, capturing the initiation ceremony of a young Diola; the entire United States, filming a family road movie during the Democratic Primaries; Benin Africa and India to document the evolution of 2 young girls from their 1st day of school; Italy and Portugal for a series of portraits of Europeans, and of course Paris (where he is originally from) filming a personal story about the exile of the Algerian Jews. Herve has also shot 2 feature narratives, in San Francisco and in Haiti. Hervé is currently working on “Life Underground”, a transmedia project about the connected lives of metro riders around the world. Website: &

San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Co-Laboratory 2016, Deborah Slater Deborah Slater

Deborah Slater is Artistic Director of Deborah Slater Dance Theater, and Art of the Matter Performance Foundation. She is the recipient of nine NEA Fellowships, and received a 2007 Isadora Duncan Dance Award. She received a Gerbode Foundation Grant, and was chosen for five Djerassi Foundation Residencies. Slater has taught at Osher Lifelong Learning, the Fromm Institute, Cal Arts, and Stanford. She was on the Steering Committee for National Dance Week in SF, and served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Djerassi Resident Artist Foundation.

Film Info

SFDFF, 2016 Co-Laboratory Films + Local Shorts, Deborah Slater, Hervé Cohen
In the Space Between

(USA, 2016) 5:52
Director: Hervé Cohen
Choreographer: Deborah Slater

To learn more about the Co-Laboratory, read the Huffington Post REVIEW of the 2013 Co-Laboratory films and check out the mini documentary above which follows the experience of that year’s collaborating artists.

Dance Advisory Board

Robin Anderson, Lines Ballet
Cecelia Beam, San Francisco Ballet
Christy Bolingbroke, ODC
Celia Fushille, Smuin Ballet
Wayne Hazzard, Dancers’ Group

Film Advisory Board

Kate Duhamel, Fountain 3 Films
Austin Forbord, Rapt Productions
Dan Geller, Geller/Goldfine Productions
Dayna Goldfine, Geller/Goldfine Productions
Kristine Samuelson, Independent Filmmaker
Michele Turnure-Salleo, SFFS, Director Filmmaker 360