I'm thrilled for the chance to pitch on this project. I've been directing dance films since my college days. As a child, I studied theater and ballet; I wasn't the most graceful performer -- but I found my calling behind-the-scenes. Discovering the best ways to capture the beauty and artistry of dance has been a career pursuit.

As a student at NYU, I directed ballet dancers across the city in distinctly "New York" locations -- under the Manhattan Bridge Archway, in a graffitied East Village skate park -- set to an indie folk soundtrack of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Later on, I worked with a capoeira and modern dance duo to create a fashion film romance. More recently, I filmed all of the behind- the-scenes materials for the feature IN THE HEIGHTS, directed by Jon M.Chu. I had pleasure of documenting the dance and choreography team from early rehearsals through production.

In building this deck, I had a blast exploring the possibilities. The 75th anniversary of New York City Ballet is a chance to celebrate a truly iconic emblem of New York. The films that support it should be iconic as well.

Kaliya Warren


For both films, we'll lean into an aesthetic that celebrates both New York, and the beauty of theatricality and stage performance.

For the first film, we'll interview our subjects at Lincoln Center, on stage at the David H. Koch Theater. Visible within the frame, we'll place vintage stage lights out of focus. I used a similar approach with the project pictured -- the BTS for Disney's Obi-Wan Kenobi. The use of vintage lights will evoke the Ballet's long and storied history. The stage setting will evoke the epic scope of the Ballet's artistic accomplishments, and quintessential New York.

We'll intercut these interviews with archival and more recent footage of NYC Ballet's history. From the days of George Balanchine, to the days of Jonathan Safford.

In addition, we'll ask each of our dancer and choreographer subjects to perform their favorite small moments from the Ballet's past. What inspired them to become a dancer; or, alternatively what represented a highlight in their career. They'll perform these short moves in the interview space, with the same lighting set-up, in slow-motion. We'll intercut these moments with match cuts to the same moments in archival footage.

The second film will begin on a New York City rooftop at dusk. We hear the soft opening chords of "Sweet and Low Down" by Gershwin.

Designer Wes Gordon -- or, Director of Costumes Marc Happel-- fits a costume on a dancer. The fabric flows beautifully in slo-mo, backlit by the sun.

We hear their V.O. "Who Cares is a ballet that represents the dream of New York. To me -- the music and choreography evokes the fantasy that every young kid has about moving to the city. One of skyscrapers, and exuberance, and endless possibility."

"In redesigning the costumes for Who Cares -- we needed to live up to that fantasy. "

As they set the final looks, "Sweet and Low Down" reaches its recognizable melody. The dancers hit their starting poses.

As the song enters its exuberant big band section. the dancers perform the female corp's choreography.

They're now partially silhouetted against the sunset -- allowing us to appreciate the incredible silhouettes crafted by the designer.

In answer -- male dancers enter, and the dancers transition to the crossings from the first movement in Glass Pieces.

V.O. "In contrast -- Glass Pieces feels like the beautiful reality of New York. When you've lived in the city and become one with it. Someone who doesn't just survive -- but thrives off the pace, and its unique, incredible energy."

This begins a call-and-response between these two New York pieces. One, abstract minimalist, and distinctly urban. The other -- big band, elated, and evocative of 1940s Manhattan.

As we transition into night, stage spotlights turn on across roof, illuminating the dancers. Similar to our interviews -- we see the lights in frame, leaning into the theatricality.

The dancers move in and out of cinematic flares.

The stage lights illuminate the costumes in dramatic fashion. The camera captures individual details as it moves in tight.

Duet partners perform moments from "Embraceable You." As they twirl through a flare, they transition us onto the stage at the David H. Koch theater. Similar to the transition in this Under Amour piece with Misty Copeland.

The couple is surrounded by corps members from Glass Pieces. They build to their ecstatic final poses. Arms reaching to the heavens.

We end on the tagline:




Excerpt from OBI-WAN KENOBI: A JEDI'S RETURN on Disney +

MATERNAL HEALTH IN TANZANIA for Bloomberg Philanthropies

The Choreography of IN THE HEIGHTS


Kaliya Warren is an award-winning director and cinematographer. Most recently, she directed and DP’d the BTS for Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, and served as cinematographer on HBO Max’s feature, Insecure: The End. She was a top-five finalist for Tribeca and AT&T’s Untold Stories competition, and her pitch for her feature Expatriates received the $50,000 Fan Favorite Award. Her dance film Revelation was an official selection of IFC's Short Attention Span Cinema series, and her dance short Trip the Light Fantastic won the award for Excellence in Experimental at New York University.

Her commercial clients have included Google, Hulu, Vanity Fair, and Delta Air Lines. Warren has filmed work across four continents, from Tanzania to the Philippines. She is a member of IATSE Local 600, International Cinematographers Guild.