Film Score by Dance Department Music Director Wins Prize

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Shamou has won Best Original Score in a Feature Film at monthly international festival.

A film score by Shamou, the music director for the Department of Dance, was named “Best Original Score in a Feature Film” at the 39th South Film and Arts Academy Festival (SFAAF). Based in Rancagua, Chile, SFAAF is a monthly festival of the arts, including cinema, music video, web series, theater, music, advertising, and photography.

Shamou received the award for his score to The Other Witch, a multi-media and multi-lingual dance film featuring Nejla Yatkin that combines elements of contemporary dance, dance ritual, text, sound, and music. It is inspired by and references Mary Wigman’s 1934 dance piece Hexentanz. Originally scheduled to be performed live as part of the Columbia College Chicago Dance Center series, The Other Witch instead premiered as a three-part video presentation in the fall of 2020 through the Dance Center’s streaming platform.

Reviews in that premiere were strong: “…composer Shamou’s entrancing sound effects and musical score are fundamental to its structural strength and artistic impact, whether live or virtual,” wrote a reviewer in See Chicago Dance. In addition to the award for “Best Original Score,” The Other Witch received multiple SFAAF awards, including “Best Dance Feature.”

Best Original Score in a Feature certificate

Nejla Yatkin is a 2018 Drama Desk Award nominee, a 3Arts Award fellow, and a Princess Grace Choreography recipient. Of Turkish heritage, she grew up in Germany, studying dance at Die Etage, a performing arts school in Berlin, and began her career in German companies before coming to the United States, where she danced with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Her evening-length solo works, pieces for her own company, NY2Dance, and numerous commissions for dance companies throughout the United States have been performed in venues across the globe – in Europe, South America, Asia, and North America.

Shamou and Yatkin began collaborating more than a decade ago. Their first project was Oasis, a full evening-length piece that premiered at the Bates Dance Festival in 2013. Through their association, Yatkin is a visiting guest artist in the Department of Dance this semester.

Shamou’s music career began in his native Iran, where he also studied and performed with the Iranian National Ballet as a dancer. He began his formal music training in Tehran, studied with teachers from the Royal College of Music in London, and completed his training at Berklee College of Music in Boston. His compositions for dance and theater have been presented in Europe, Africa, China, Mexico, and throughout the United States.