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Dancer Makella Bergeson

A Magnet for Success

Story by Jenny K Gilman  Photo Tia Crabtree

“The Dancer believes that his art has something to say which cannot be expressed in words or in any other way than by dancing.”  Doris Humphrey

Thirteen-year-old Makella Bergeson devotes herself to dance. She remembers being drawn to it in her earliest memories. “I’ve loved it since day one,” Makella says. Her mother, Jennifer Bergeson, recalls:

She loved music as a baby and would rock back and forth to the beat, waving her hands and kicking her feet. When she was a toddler, she would dance around the house to music. As she got older, she would dress-up, sing, and dance to Disney songs.

At only three years old, Makella was enrolled in dance. It started a trajectory that would lead her to today. She is a student at Idaho Fine Arts Academy in the dance program. She already has much dance history behind her, studying every style from ballet to contemporary, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and beyond. She has danced for arts’ sake and danced for competition.

Makella’s teacher at Idaho Fine Arts Academy, Rachel Swenson, encourages her students to create and do something tangible with dance. She said, “Theatrical Dance is ephemeral; here for one night of performing and then gone.” So she found a solution to hold on to the performance.

Rachel introduced her students to dance filmmaking in school. As part of their curriculum, she teaches students the art of the camera, editing, choreography, and building a project into something special. The students have a class film they make together, and they also do a solo project of their own making. Makella chose a dance that was close to her heart.

Makella’s sister, Jordan, studied dance throughout her life too. She is older than Makella, and she took on the project, along with Makella, to choreograph a dance to the song by Disclosure and Lorde, called “Magnets.”

The film, Magnets, is set in Downtown Boise. Some shots are on a leafy street in the fall. You may recognize the capitol building downtown. Even an empty parking garage becomes art when Makella expresses herself in dance freely on the pavement of a utilitarian canvas without onlookers interrupting the moody flow. She takes to the middle of a street where the sun glows behind her, making a magnificent frame of light to wrap itself around Makella’s movements.

Rachel Swenson encouraged Makella to submit the finished product to film festivals. Makella submitted her film to two festivals, and both of them selected her film, Magnets, to be screened. One local festival, Idaho Screendance, was co-founded by Rachel in order (in part) to give students a platform to showcase their talents to more than just a reoccurring audience of family and friends. The second film festival was Utah Dance Film Festival. 

Makella said this about seeing her film on the big screen, “I enjoyed my experience watching my film. It was fun and interesting to see my film with all of the other wonderful films.” 

Makella plans to continue dancing lessons, and making dance film. When asked if she would do anything different next time, she said she would do more planning for the film ahead of time. She wants to encourage others to make dance film, and to experience the creative processes that are involved in filmmaking. She said:

 I love dance; it gives me a way of expression and helps me experiment with my creativity. If you follow your dreams and spend your life doing what brings you joy, you are more likely to find success.