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 fall 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

2017 Co-Laboratory

The 5th anniversary of the collaborative program pairs local professional choreographers and filmmakers to create short dance films for the festival. The risk averse choreographer Robert Dekkers, founder and artistic director of Post:Ballet, will collaborate with commercial and music video  director Marta Dymek. The second team of “Co-Lab” artists will pair the contemporary dance company RAWdance’s artistic directors / choreographers Wendy Rein and Ryan T. Smith with filmmaker Shelley Lewis whose short films and commercials have garnered numerous awards.  These artists will soon meet for the first time and be challenged to create their short dance films in just three days on location in San Francisco this September.

Team 1

Marta Dymek

Marta Dymek started her journey as a filmmaker shortly after graduating Academy of Art University with a degree in Photography. She realized that stills (although gratifying) weren’t enough to convey the stories that she wanted to tell. She started with music videos for various artists in California and slowly moved her way to short films and commercials. Whether she’s making a mockumentary about cats running a website for memes (Fuzzfeed, 2015) or a brooding music video featuring a dancing wolf in sheep’s clothing (Katie Burden – My Blind Eye), she always looks for ways to create a unique and somewhat absurd world in her films. Her work has won awards in festivals such as the San Francisco 48 Hour Film Project (Best Film 2014, 2015) and the Ibiza Music Video Festival. Over the past few years she’s worked with a wide range of artists, including Waterstrider, AKW, and Ensemble Mik Nawooj. Currently, Marta is gearing up to writing her first feature film while she continues to work in film and advertising in San Francisco. ~ photo © Anastasiia Sapon

Robert Dekkers

Named “25 To Watch” by DANCE Magazine, Robert Dekkers is founder and artistic director of Post:Ballet. Collaborating with eclectic artists to present programming that is “anything but risk averse” (SF Chronicle), Robert has created a range of new works for Post together with artists working in film, visual art, animation, architecture, sculpture, fashion design, and new music. Robert has received commissions from Atlanta Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Smuin Ballet, sjDANCEco, Novaballet, and Diablo Ballet, where he is currently resident choreographer. His works have been presented at venues including the Tanzsommer Festival (Vienna), the Ballet Builders Showcase (New York City), Against the Grain (Seattle), and West Wave Dance Festival (San Francisco). Robert danced professionally with Ballet Arizona, ODC/Dance, Company C Contemporary Ballet, and Diablo Ballet. He was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for “Outstanding Performance- Individual” for his 2012-13 season with Diablo Ballet, where he danced leading roles in works by choreographers including George Balanchine, José Límon, Val Caniparoli, KT Nelson, Trey McIntyre, Septime Webre, and Mario Radacovsky. Robert has also performed work by Twyla Tharp, August Bournonville, Maurice Causey, Lar Lubovitch, Dominic Walsh, Jodie Gates, Ib Andersen, Paul Taylor, Brenda Way, and Julia Adam. Robert is a faculty member at Berkeley Ballet Theater and regularly teaches company classes for LINES Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and ODC/Dance. In addition to his work as a choreographer, teacher and dancer, he holds a degree in business from Rio Salado College. Find out more about Robert’s work at

 Team 2

Shelley Lewis

After graduating from OCAD, Toronto’s school of Art and Design, Shelley Lewis worked as an art director at one of the top advertising agencies in the country, winning numerous awards for her work, including a Cannes Lion for one of her TV commercials. In 2009, she decided to take the plunge into film, and began her career as a director. Since then, she has received several awards for her TV commercials, short films and music videos. She dabbles in comedy and drama, but her heart is in visual storytelling.

(Wendy Rein/ Ryan T. Smith)

RAWdance is a contemporary dance company under the artistic direction of Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein, whose nuanced, crafted, movement-driven dances pose questions ranging from broadly social to intimately personal. The company transforms and enlivens both theaters and public spaces through a mix of performance, curation, teaching, and collaboration. Wendy Rein has a B.A. from Brown University, and worked with Misnomer Dance Theater in Providence before co-founding RAWdance in San Francisco. Rein has danced with Alma Esperanza Cunningham, Nancy Karp, Mary Carbonara, and Deborah Slater. She has worked on dozens of dance film projects with RJ Muna, and teaches through Rhythm & Motion. Ryan T. Smith received his B.A. from Brown University, performing in works by Carla Maxwell, Danny Buraczeski, Anthony Rizzi, and Danny Grossman. After co-founding RCJ Dance in Providence, he moved to San Francisco and worked with Alma Esperanza Cunningham and Stephen Pelton. He was a member of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company since 2005. Weekly dubbed RAWdance’s work “edgy, sexy inventive fare designed to speak to audiences.” Critical Dance has hailed it as “experimental work done brilliantly.” RAWdance was honored with a 2014 Goldie Award by the SF Bay Guardian, and was recently nominated for an Izzie award. A resident company of ODC Theater, RAWdance’s work has been supported through residencies at Ucross, Djerassi, Marble House Project, ODC Theater, CounterPULSE, and Zaccho. The company has toured nationally and internationally to Singapore and China. The company’s first short dance film, “since you went” (2013), has been screened at festivals in Asia, Europe, South America, and across the U.S.

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