This dance-on-film follows the epic journey of Odyssea, a curious sea traveler, as she encounters the local flora and fauna of fantastical realms. To match the scale of the scenery created by mixed-medium 3D artist Raphaela McCormack, choreographer Mariah Steele performs this one-woman dance with only her hands, set to original music by Yoshiko Arahata and filmed by Hans Rinderknecht. Across biomorphic landscapes and habitats, this playful and poignant tale of encountering difference promises to make the familiar feel excitingly unfamiliar again.

  • Mariah Steele
  • Mariah Steele
  • Hans Rinderknecht
  • Mariah Steele
    Key Cast
  • Yoshiko Arahata
  • Raphaela McCormack
    3D Mixed Media Artwork
  • Hans Rinderknecht
    Videography & Editing
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short, Other
  • Runtime:
    28 minutes 53 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 26, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Rochester Fringe Festival
    Rochester, NY
    United States
    September 18, 2023
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Mariah Steele

Mariah Steele (BA from Princeton University, MA from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and MFA from Hollins University) is a choreographer, dancer, educator and interdisciplinary researcher. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Program of Dance & Movement at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. As the founder and Artistic Director of Quicksilver Dance, Steele’s choreography has been performed across the country and internationally. For this work, The Boston Globe Magazine named Steele a “rising talent” in the arts in 2013. She has also performed professionally in the companies of James Martin and Beth Soll in New York City, and with Peter DiMuro's Public Displays of Motion, Sokolow Now! the Anna Sokolow Archival Company, and Rebecca Rice Dance in Boston. Steele was on faculty at Endicott College in Beverly, MA from 2012-2015 and has taught courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Santa Clara University and the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Her interdisciplinary research has included an ethnography of Bharata Natyam and Kandyan dance in Sri Lanka, which also lead to the publication of "Shining Lights," a children's book Steele authored in collaboration with photographer Ganesh Ramachandran. Her case-studies investigating how dance can be used effectively in peacebuilding have engaged audiences at more than 15 universities, schools, community centers and conferences. Steele's current research interests involve combining dance and science in numerous ways, including an interdisciplinary collaboration funded by the National Science Foundation to explore teaching high school Physics through choreography and movement.

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Director Statement

Flights of fancy. Wild goose chases. Setting the imagination free. Making “Odyssea” has been an artistic playground from Day One, allowing me to apply my choreographic eye not only to movement, but also to fabric, body paint, storytelling and film. In the tradition of “The Nutcracker” and other ballads of the imagination, I hope viewers feel transported to another realm beyond their daily cares. Along the way, perhaps subliminally rather than explicitly, Odyssea offers a feminist version of an odyssey: she makes her way through unknown lands by helping fellow travelers, building relationships and trading, rather than through the mythologically typical approaches of (male) physical strength, trickery or intrigue.

My recent trajectory as an artist has been towards creating new genres made up of recognizable components but combining together into something that defies easy categorization. Is "Odyssea" a dance or a movement-based film? Are the backgrounds sculptures or sets? In the “realistic magicalism” of a wordless epic journey performed only with hands, I hope viewers are inspired to see beauty in unusual places.