Local Dancer’s ‘Project 52’ at the Nick

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Santa Cruz dancer and filmmaker Daniel Mollner is engaged in a year-long creative marathon: choreographing, shooting, editing and producing a new dance video every week. This has resulted, so far, in 13 films that cover a lot of aesthetic and emotional territory.

I Dance” (which has been viewed more than 6,000 times on YouTube) is a potent manifesto; similarly “The Person” is a deeply personal statement. Other pieces are by turns funny, edgy or thought-provoking.

Mollner, who studied  filmmaking at the California Institute of the Arts, has been dancing and performing around Santa Cruz for years. But until recently, he says, “I never really had the courage to call myself a dancer.

“That’s changed recently…thankfully. I am fully stepping into that identity with this project.”

The story of how these films have come to be is rather inspiring. A couple years ago,  Mollner lost his job as a 5th-grade teacher at Vine Hill School in Scotts Valley.  Instead of freaking out (okay, maybe freaking out a little) he realized he was being given an opportunity to follow a long-held dream…to combine his two biggest creative passions—and live them every day for a year.

“Dance transforms us,” Mollner says. “It makes us healthier, happier, and more connected.  We learn to trust our instincts, reflexes, and intuitions. And ultimately, the power of film is that it inspires us.  It educates, entertains and unites us. We make sense of our common experience and share our visions for the future through the storytelling that takes place on the screen.”

The first 14 episodes of “Project 52” screen Tuesday, April 3 at the Nick. Audiences who loved “Pina” won’t want to miss this. 7pm; free.


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