X-Dance Returns to Salt Lake City January 16th

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on January 8, 2009 10:00 am

It is the Academy Awards of the Action Sports World, minus the uncomfortable tuxedos.  January 16-20, the 9th annual X-Dance Festival will be held in Salt Lake City.  Super-hero athletes roaming the halls and appearing on screen include Olympic Gold Medalist and X-Games champ Shaun White, snowboarder Travis Rice, legendary skier Scott Schmidt (Blizzard of Ahhs), powder charger Jeremy Jones, freestyle motocross man Twitch, and ski racing legend Picabo Street.

For the first years of X-Dance, the goal was simply to establish itself in the action sports world, while piggybacking off of the Sundance Film Festival.  Well, film festival director Brian Wimmer’s "precocious kid" is all grown up and is now an industry force, commanding the attention of the entire action sports industry.  In an ironic twist, X-Dance has become what Sundance once was.  Athletes, filmmakers, and audience are all part of one community, free to mingle sans the VIP pass required at Sundance to simply walk down Main Street. 

Now with X-Dance an event unto itself, the festival screens movies at its own digs, the Off-Broadway Theatre.  "Our own theatre has given us a lot more room and our own footprint.  We have our own legitimate crowd, including local, core types who want nothing to do with the over commercialized aspects of Sundance."  But, Wimmer knows his audience may not want to do the Hollywood shmooze, but his filmmakers most certainly do.  "Our proximity to the Sundance Festival allows for our filmmakers to rub shoulders with the Hollywood crowd."  An important aspect for both X-Dance filmmakers and Hollywood, considering Hollywood’s ill-fated attempts at action sports films in the past (think Aspen Extreme, Gleaming the Cube).  If Hollywood wants to get it right, X-Dance is where they’ll find the talent and vision.  

As a way to facilitate those connections and the wider audience demanded by possible partnerships, X-Dance has taken a proactive role in the creative direction of action sports films.  The festival’s selections ephasize traditional elements of film (i.e. story), looking beyond "action porn".  Wimmer explains, "There’s a legitimacy to ‘action porn’, but the goal is to try to push the genre into a more palpable medium for the public and still hold true to the core values.  The idea is to attract somebody who’s not just a core athlete."

The most respected filmmakers in the industry will be displaying their latest creations from Matchstick, Teton Gravity Research, Quicksilver, and Transworld, among others.  The onscreen talents of Shaun White, Laird Hamilton, and Travis Rice will screen to sold-out audiences.  World premiers include “Swift Silent Deep”, about the Jackson Hole Airforce by Jon Klaczkiewicz and Troy Beauchamp, and “Reasons” by award-winning filmmaker Johnny Decesare of Poor Boyz Productions.  On Monday, January 19th, there will be a not-to-be-missed, special screening of “Hori Smoku", a fantastic film about the roots of American tattooing through the life of its most iconoclastic figure, Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins. The X-Dance Awards Ceremony and closing party on January 20th will feature a live performance from the Bouncing Souls along with DJ sets well into the night.

Wimmer’s festival has carved out a huge audience and found a home.  "X-Dance has found its MECCA in Salt Lake City, a perfect playground, location and audience with its population of extremely active outdoor youth culture," Wimmer told The Ski Channel.  "It’s truly a unique aspect, in that we have the entire action sports industry under one roof.  There is no other event like that."  An industry that has skyrocketed into a mult-billion dollar enterprise and an event, X-Dance, that is its celebration.

Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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