By Kristen Miller
Fifteen local dance students recently participated in a film production under the direction of a 2002 Dassel-Cokato High School graduate.
Kyndra (Nelson) Cuartes is a digital film and video production student at the Art Institutes International Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Last year, Cuartes volunteered her work for a Minnesota-based computer application company, CME Apps, producing a commercial to promote their products.
CME Apps is owned and operated by three special education teachers dedicated to providing innovative tools to assist both teachers and students.
The particular product that Cuartes is working to help promote is a calendar app that helps special education teachers with their IEP (individualized education program) paperwork, a requirement for special education.
Pre-production began in September, which included working with the teachers and developing a script, determining what’s needed for the shoot, and casting calls.
Her screenline for the production would center around a teacher taking time from teaching her students in order to complete her IEP work. The students sit and wait at their desks, bored.
When a fellow teacher introduces the helpful app to her, she and her students are overjoyed. To express their excitement, the classroom breaks out in a choreographed dance, Cuartes explained.
“It reflects the freedom, and unifying the teacher with her students,” Cuartes said describing the emotion of the screenline.
As a former graduate of DC, Cuartes still has a lot of friends in the area. Knowing how the area has integrated the arts, she thought this would be a great location for her filming.
She also wanted to have some of her friends’ children involved in the production as part of a “loosely choreographed” dance, similar to the Harlem shake.
Cuartes called upon one of her friends in an effort to build her cast of students. She wanted her friends’ daughter to be a part of the dance. The friend’s daughter happened to be in Miss Wendy’s dance class in Cokato, and class happened to be on the very same night Cuartes was planning to shoot the video.
“It was the perfect opportunity to work with a dance studio,” Cuartes said.
When Wendy Moore, owner of Miss Wendy’s Dance and Fitness, was approached by Cuartes to assist with the promotional film for a product assisting special education, Moore found it to be worth-while project.
She rehearsed with her students for a couple hours the day prior to the shoot, practicing with the music to be used in the shoot. Cuartes left it up to Moore to choreograph the dance.
“Basically, she let me have the reins, which was great, but nerve-wracking,” Moore said.
“It was fun to have the freedom,” Moore said, noting she’s never been a part of such a project before.
The scene took place at the Dassel-Cokato Middle School, in Nathan Youngs’ classroom, Feb. 2.
The 15 students participating were between the ages of 10 and 13. As part of the filming, the students did the dance about 25 times, and the project took about three hours, according to Moore.
Being a part of a production, Moore said, was “pretty fascinating.”
The students even had a costume change.
“They were awesome to work with,” Cuartes said of the students, adding how respectful they all were.
Now, Cuartes will continue the post-work and editing of the footage, but expects to have it completed in the next month or so.
“They say a film is made in the editing room,” she said.