Pandemic Forces UNC Greensboro MFA Candidate To Move Dance Production To Film

Minutes into Billy Hawkains III’s film “By Fire,” and the pulsating rhythmic beat from the bongo and conga and the polyrhythmic sounds from the organ and high cymbals make you want to, well, dance. But then, that’s the point. Hawkains, a dancer and choreographer, knows that the body wasn’t meant to be stagnant. “I see everything as dance – walking, swaying,” he says. He’s particularly fascinated by what he sees, and saw growing up, in the Black church. Those experiences inspired Hawkains’ MFA thesis project, the original choreographed piece “By Fire.” What would have been an in-person dance production, required of all UNCG MFA candidates, moved to film due to the pandemic. But Hawkains didn’t see the shift to celluloid as settling.