Dancing with the Stars – Alvin Ailey Dance Company | Edinburgh International Festival

Chocolate films was commissioned by the Edinburgh International Festival to create a film following three young dancers as they prepare to perform with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. 

Edinburgh and Alvin Ailey

The Edinburgh International Festival is a three week long festival of the arts that has been running since 1947. The festival has curated classical music, opera and ballet for most of its lifetime, plus contemporary dance like Alvin Ailey performs.

The Alvin Ailey Dance Company, founded in 1958, is one of the most prestigious names in contemporary dance, and has performed for over 25 million people across 71 countries.

The festival wanted to portray its connection to Edinburgh and the city’s youth. They commissioned Chocolate Films to create a captivating dance documentary, showcasing emerging Scottish dancers aged 18-25 and their journey as they train and perform with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Three dancers at the beginning of their careers were chosen – a Scottish dancer, who grew up, trained and stayed in Scotland, a Scottish talent who left Scotland to pursue a dance career, and an international talent, who came to Scotland to train and work. 

From audition to performance we documented their hopes, anxieties and successes to create an intimate portrait of our three subjects, and portray the experience of performing with one of the most prestigious Dance Companies in the world.

Our Rehearsal

The initial brief was fairly loose, requiring us to simply capture the process of the young dancers’ audition, rehearsal and performance, but that was developed after conversations with some of the dancers.

Eventually, three dancers were chosen to be the focus of the film, and the script was developed around them. Initial interviews with these dancers provided the backbone for the more personal moments of the film.

Stylistically, the decision was made to use a handheld camera and wide angle lenses for interviews, to give the film a more intimate, casual feel and let the audience connect with the subjects.

Some of the challenges we faced with were capturing the right moments and creating an atmosphere for our subjects in which they felt comfortable and able to share their thoughts and feelings about the process. We tackled this by using smaller crews, and chatting colloquially with our subjects to make shoots feel less like interviews and more like friendly chats.

Getting to the Pointe

Over the course of six shoots, Chocolate Films captured the dancers audition, get selected, begin their rehearsal process, and learn and evolve until they were on the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage performing in front of almost 2,000 people.

We leaned into the fantastic backdrop of Edinburgh as a location, and asked some of our contributors to show us around their favourite parts of the city, which led to some unexpected moments and breathtaking visuals.

In post-production, there was a large amount of footage to go through, but our script and extensive pre-production, as well as regular discussions throughout production about the direction the film was going in, helped the film take shape naturally in the editing process.

Documentaries - stories based on real-life people

At Chocolate films, we have a lot of experience creating documentaries about complex subjects, often over long shooting periods, while keeping a strong, continuous vision throughout.

Our experience in these kinds of projects ranges from a series of three documentaries with the V&A on their photographic archive, to work with the Sony World Photography Awards.

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Book your free consultation

The producers at Chocolate Films are available to talk through your project at a time that suits you. They’ll make sure they really understand your organisation and what you’re looking to achieve with video content. Following the discussion, they will send over a detailed proposal for the work you’re looking to commission.

What our clients say

Chocolate Films
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Alice KirklandAlice Kirkland
14:01 21 Dec 23
I had the pleasure of working with Chocolate Films for a corporate video campaign. From the offset, the team were professional, engaging, and quick to communicate. Rachel and Lucia worked with our vision and helped turn it into a reality, offering suggestions and expertise to help bring the story to life to a highly creative and timely manner.The video created a real buzz within the organisation and the feedback received has been fantastic. I would highly recommend Chocolate and look forward to working with them again in the future.
Stephen WheatleyStephen Wheatley
16:50 03 Nov 23
Make Listening Safe Campaign UK is an initiative of The World Health Organisation aimed at increasing the awareness of avoidable risks to hearing in those between 10 and 40 years of age, launched at an in person event in London on 1st November 2023.We needed the launch to be filmed and were lucky enough to be introduced to Chocolate Films who provided the crew and the equipment required.Our events team have informed me that the crew were a delight to work with and were very helpful.We were very impressed with the quality of the footage and were very surprised when we received it so quickly after the event, so we could edit it and get it out on to social media in a timely fashion.We have no hesitation in recommending Chocolate Films.Thank you for making the filming such a pain free experience.Stephen Wheatley | Chair – MLSC UK |
Stella HungerStella Hunger
18:15 01 Nov 23
I was lucky enough to work with Nikita and Chocolate Films on a photo shoot. They were extremely professional, accommodating, organized and generally lovely. We definitely plan on working with them in the future! Thank you for everything, Nikita!
Vanessa RushtonVanessa Rushton
12:59 25 Oct 23
Great provider – always happy to help and deliver what’s needed quickly and cost effectively
Laura CliffLaura Cliff
09:49 12 Oct 23
I worked with Chocolate films to produce a voice over for a film translated into Welsh. Nikki and Lucia were professional, friendly and understood the brief. They ensured all deadlines were met and the work was produced to a really high quality.
Rachael CresswellRachael Cresswell
09:03 05 Oct 23
A friendly group of professional, talented film-makers who created some brilliant videos for us. Anna and Han were a pleasure to work with and were available to discuss the project whenever we needed it. The entire process was slick and efficient from start to finish – I would definitely recommend Chocolate Films for any film project.
Nick HarmerNick Harmer
14:26 21 Jun 23
A very professional team with flexibility and great understanding of the craft. The pre-production was straight forward but the dedication from the team on the day to capture lots of high quality footage of the event was admirable.The final outcomes were well edited and the revisions process was painless and fast. I highly recommend Chocolate Films for event and interview videography.
joe plimmerjoe plimmer
11:21 25 Apr 23
A pleasure to collaborate with such a wonderful company that nurtures talent the right way
Anoushka FreemanAnoushka Freeman
17:27 13 Jan 23
We couldn’t recommend Chocolate Films highly enough! The team had a thorough attention to detail, communicated each phase of the production clearly, and were extremely friendly and patient with time delays gathering necessary media items on our side.
A Google User
A Google User
17:27 13 Jan 23
We couldn’t recommend Chocolate Films highly enough! The team had a thorough attention to detail, communicated each phase of the production clearly, and were extremely friendly and patient with time delays gathering necessary media items on our side.
Emma HalesEmma Hales
16:57 11 Jan 23
Worked with this fantastic company On a vaccine hesitancy video. The company were professional from start to finish, very understanding and patient with the young people involved in making the video and truly brought their ideas to life! Highly recommended!
Social MediaSocial Media
13:27 29 Dec 22
It was a pleasure for Museum of London to work on one of our most exciting wrap up films of the year with Chocolate Films. Anna, Phil and the whole team were helpful, accommodating and flexible through a tricky brief and shoot. Definitely recommend! Jaanuja