City of Dreams

City of Dreams


A celebration of all that New York City inspires, “City of Dreams” is a short dance film by choreographer Robin Cantrell featuring Battery Dance company members and original music from Alexis Gideon and vocals by Bethany Mitchell and Mira Cook. With moments that pay tribute to great dance films and to New York itself, “City of Dreams” takes you on a journey between realism and heightened reality. Scroll below to read more about the process and hear from the choreographer herself about her vision for the film!


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Director’s Note

Robin Cantrell portrait Robin Cantrell is a native of St. Paul Minnesota and received her BFA in ballet performance at the University of Utah as a Willem F. Christensen scholarship recipient. During a professional performing career that has spanned two decades, Robin has worked with numerous dance companies including City Ballet of San Diego, Rioult, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, and most notably, as a member of Battery Dance from 2008-2020. With Battery, Robin has had the opportunity to perform, teach, and present her own choreography in over 60 countries worldwide. She is a subject of the award winning documentary, Moving Stories, about the cultural diplomacy work conducted by the company.Robincurrently dances for Gabrielle Lamb’s PigeonWing Dance and is the Artistic Director of Indelible Dance: a Brooklyn based dance company that creates otherworldly dance films and  presents multimedia immersive dance events. Her most recent dance films, ODYSSEY, and TRIPTYCH, have been well received in film festivals over the past two years and have garnered numerous awards and accolades.

“I wanted to create a film for Battery that would showcase both the diversity of the company dancers and their home of New York City. Since the company travels all over the world I thought it would be important for people who’ve often never even been to the United States to see where Battery comes from.

I based the vignettes around two of my favorite aspects of living in the city: putting on my headphones and giving myself a cinematic experience as I make my way through the town, and the idea that when you set out in the city with no agenda, you can be swept up in things you never anticipated and that’s where the magic happens. You just have to be open and receptive.

I wanted to pay homage to some of the classic NYC dance and film genres.​..In each case we follow a female protagonist and we’re never sure if we’re looking at reality or their fantasy life, or a combination of the two.

I also made sure that we were able to shoot in places that are meaningful to Battery Dance: just down the street in Chinatown, Wagner Park where the festival takes place, and at the World Trade Center site.”


The Creation Experience

“Robin is such an imaginative director. She sees her vision completely. From the camera angle, to the expression on our faces, to the stream of light glimmering from the corner of the frame; she is so deliberate. She knows exactly what she wants while allowing for input from us, the dancers. Her musicality and ability to tell a story make her a joy to work with.” – Jillian Linkowski
Battery Dancers dancing outdoors at the Oculus in downtown New York City

“It was an insightful learning experience working with Robin. She came in with this wild idea, but in action, it made entire sense. I admire her imagination and felt compelled with her way of storytelling. She gave Sarah and I a voice on the movement creation. It was a very symbiotic relationship.​” – Vivake Khamsingsavath

Battery dancers Sarah Housepian and Vivake Khamsingsavath dancing outdoors in New York City

“Working with Robin is a gift to any dancer. She creates with such articulation while allowing an artist to use their voice individually within the work. This vignette was especially challenging because the majority of the choreography was created in retrograde, or backwards, and it was filmed in one take. This provided a fascinating end product when it was edited.” – Sarah Housepian


This Project was Supported by

NYC Cultural Affairs