The%20Bright%20Side%20:%20Choreographer%20and%20director%20Celia%20Rowlson-Hall%20has%20taught%20everyone%20from%20MGMT%20to%20Sleigh%0D%0ABells%20how%20to%20dance.%20Here%20she%20gets%20electric%20in%20some%20of%20our%20most%20brilliant%20spring%20pieces. Check%20out%20the%20latest%20in%20the%20@Aritzia%20Magazine.%20The%20Bright%20Side%20-

The Bright Side

Choreographer and director Celia Rowlson-Hall has taught everyone from MGMT to Sleigh Bells how to dance. Here she gets electric in some of our most brilliant spring pieces.


Celia Rowlson-Hall shakes it with some of music’s biggest names for a living: Chromeo, SebastiAn, Sleigh Bells, Kid Sister, and MGMT have all boogied to her choreography in recent videos. The 28-year-old artist got her start studying modern dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and, after graduation, headed to New York City in 2006. While appearing in a music video for Adam Green, Rowlson-Hall met a costume designer who was working on MGMT’s latest video and recommended her as a choreographer. “I got some of my dancer friends together, and we made it happen,” she says. “The longer I continue to work in this field, the more I realize how small it is. It’s so important to do good work and be good to others, because you’ll cross paths again.”

That mindset has served the dancer and director well: These days, Rowlson-Hall divides her time between her Williamsburg, Brooklyn, studio, on sets, and behind the camera, directing and choreographing everything from music videos to shorts to fashion films. “Every day is different for me, which is exciting, but sometimes exhausting,” she says. In fact, just last week, her short films The Audition and Si Nos Dejan screened at the 2013 South by Southwest festival. “I write down ideas in notebooks and then take those thoughts with me to the dance studio. I’ll move around and explore those thoughts, which spark more images, and then I plan out my film,” she says of her creative process. “I love to stay in a constant state of imagining, working, and creating.” We recruited Rowlson-Hall and her vivid imagination to choreograph a film for us highlighting some of our favourite neon spring pieces, and the result is, quite literally, shocking.

Do you come from an artistic family?
My parents are both school teachers and were hugely supportive when I was growing up and continue to be today. They bought me endless paints and art supplies, and drove me to dance class every day after school. Although they weren’t “artists,” they really instilled the necessity and value of art in my life.

Your short films The Audition, Prom Night, and The Honeymooon all deal with female gender roles. Does that theme continuously reoccur in your work?
I believe that because I am a woman, the subject of gender is inevitable. But I think that’s because we still have a lack of female voices in the world today. I make work according to what interests me, and being a woman is only one aspect of who I am. So for me, those three pieces have to do with other subjects besides gender. But the beauty of film is that you can project your own interpretations and story on the work, and I invite that to happen.

The meaning behind many of your pieces also tend to be left quite ambiguous.
I don’t like it when I’m hit over the head with a message, so I like to leave a lot unanswered for my audience. Also, I think of my films as “questions,” not answers. I think that using the medium of dance and not dialogue makes the storytelling process a lot more abstract.

What’s it like creating choreography for people who aren’t professional dancers?
It’s always a fun challenge. When I’m working with models or actors, I seek out their strengths and try to highlight them. The most important thing is being clear and simple with my choreography, and not overwhelming someone with counts, dance terms, or complicated movements.

Can you give us the scoop on any other upcoming projects?
I’m headed down to Miami next week to co-direct a short film with Julia Pott [Check out the feature we did with Pott in our Premiere Issue] and to make another video test similar to The Honeymoon. I’ll be directing a music video for the amazing band Au Revoir Simone in late spring, and then I’ll begin prepping for my feature film that is shooting in August. I hope to make many challenging, thoughtful, and truthful films in my lifetime.