Collaborations, Film Peformance





Description: Choreography by Brontez Purnell joined cinematographer Gary Fembot Gregerson and lighting designer Jerry Lee, Purnell to produce, choreograph, and score “Free Jazz” (2012), a 8mm B&W dance film documenting “various dance parties, structured improvs, rituals and happenings” performed by BPDC between 2010 and 2012, which has been shown internationally.


Free Jazz – Brontez Purnell Dance Company


Choreographer: Brontez Purnell | Premiered: Berkeley Art Museum (In Part)/ The Garage (full premiere) | Support: Self-Produced / THEOFFCENTER


“So its a common misconception that the title of this work is a statement on Jazz music (as most of the music in the movie is not Jazz music at all). “Free Jazz” as a title is a statement on Jazz dance. I remember reading an outdated book about Jazz dance in College (the name escapes me) but it mentioned the fact that the original “Jazz” musicians rejected the word Jazz at first at it was a media invention and not what they themselves had termed it at all. I was obessed with the idea or the notion that on a performing black body all movement becomes “Jazz” of sorts. (I was a quite a party kid back in my day and would notice that every five years whatever new black dance that entered the mainstream eye was then put on my body whenever i was dancing. Some person would come up and say “oh your Crumping!” then five years later “oh your doing the Dougie!” then five years after that “oh your Twerking!”- keep in mind when Im in a social setting i basically do the same dance movements ive been doing all my life in social dances! lol). So in a sense “Free Jazz” was a statement or protest if you will of wanting to “free” the form and expectation of what our cultural/racial/social backgrounds in dance designated us too. I was not wishing to erase any history but just augment it with the fact that my body in time is as much its own version of history adhering to shape, space, and time as it was any social construct being put onto it. I paired with the SF underground film boy queer genius Gary Fembot on this one. I was a queer punk as a teenager and had seen his films on underground film/zine mixtapes. I had also danced in a dance film of his that was an homage to 60’s go-go boys called “Mando Bottomless”. I told him what i wanted to do and he loved the idea and so together I directed and he filmed “Free Jazz” in the space of a year. We wanted a dance mixtape that was the mid-way point between Mod, Punk, Surf, New Wave and Free Jazz dance interpretations”.   – Brontez Purnell