THE LITTLEST DANCER (2002/2004) 88 minutes
Director: Nick Karner
With: Kirstie Spadie and the North Carolina Dance Institute
History and Trivia:
I met Kirstie Spadie when I was 16 years old. I wanted to take dance to become a triple-threat in the theatre community. A new dance studio opened. It was called the Broadway Dance Project. The building made me think I was in the wrong place. It always struck me as being some kind of office or a place where you bought tires. But, lo and behold, there was a dance floor and there was the most lovely and completely crazy dance teacher I have yet encountered in this world. Funny, bubbly, and completely committed to sharing her love of dance, she was the one that not only taught me to dance, but put me on a dance scholarship with the studio, meaning I could take all of the dance classes I liked in exchange for working the front desk and other tasks.
Kirstie was going to do what she calls a Summer Showcase. Her studio, now called the North Carolina Dance Institute(NCDI), is not a recital-based studio. All dance and training, no performance. However, she wanted to adapt a story called "The Littlest Angel" for the stage. Changing the angel to a dancer, it was an exciting and ambitious show, with many dancers and the wonderfully funny Mike Raab, whom I worked with at Raleigh Little Theatre in Brigadoon.
I had just decided that I wanted to be a filmmaker and was waiting to leave for my first semester at the New York Film Academy. Kirstie found out and asked if I would like to film the show. Being rather ambitious, I asked to shoot the entire process. Not knowing any better, I shot the entire film on a Sony Hi8mm camcorder. Without any editing knowledge, I cut the show and film on two VCR's and asked my A/V teacher at Broughton High School to dub music into the film. It was literally running the master VHS copy while over-dubbing music. Unfortunately, since there was a lot of waiting, we got distracted and ended up dubbing over an entire interview segment. Knowing I would have to create the film all over again, I had to go with it. Needless to say, it was nice that it got made, but was probably a painful experience to watch.
After film school, my first task was to buy an editing program. I found the cheapest but most versatile software I could find at Best Buy. It was Pinnacle Editing Software. They're now owned by Avid, which is what I used to edit with at the NYFA. I re-cut the film with music and transitions until it finally looked like a real movie. I only gave out a copy to Kirstie, it having been two years, but she was very appreciative. Quality-wise, it's pretty rough and it didn't get into any film festivals I submitted it to, likely because of the length and quality. But, it was a start.
NOTE: These production stills are actually from "The Cracked Nut," a 2004 summer adaptation of "The Nutcracker." Just wanted to give you a flavor
of what she does.