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May 17, 2024 at 10:00 am – May 19, 2024 at 4:30 pm

Embodied Acoustics: Orality, Sound, Rhythm in NonFiction Art Practices

With Pablo Álvarez Mesa, Samita Sinha, Paula Gaitán, Konstantine Vlasis & Lucy Kerr

Please note: This workshop will be held in UnionDocs’ new space in Ridgewood!
We’re now at: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood,  NY – 11385

Join us for a three-day workshop with filmmaker, cinematographer and editor Pablo Álvarez-Mesa to explore the acoustic, the musical, and the oral realm in nonfiction storytelling.  Discover how sound, music, vocal performance and rhythm can act as openings to new knowledge and accessing personal, historical and collective narratives.

Throughout the workshop, we’ll bring in a variety of practitioners to present a kaleidoscopic vantage into questions on listening and understanding vocalization, gesture, performance, orality and all things tapping into the acoustic in your work.

We’ll look at how voice, gesture, song and sound as they function and are observed in the world or can be employed through direct performance.

Some grounding questions will be: Where do other forms of knowledge exist beyond writing? How can music help us understand time and history? How do our surroundings shape our perception of nature, community, and self? And how can gestures and vocal performances transmit knowledge? We’ll think of building new historial avenues via the embodied, kinetic, and performed to depart from the most standard modes of story and narrative.

Pablo Álvarez-Mesa will discuss his ongoing work on Simón Bolívar (Bicentenario, La Laguna del soldado), exploring the themes of orality and place, with a particular focus on “The Musical”. This discussion will feature audiovisual samples and research materials.

Artist and composer Samita Sinha will explore the intersection of orality and the body in music and voice, as well as the invisible aspects manifested through nonverbal communication, performance, and presence.

Filmmaker and choreographer Lucy Kerr will explore archives and repertoire through the body and movements, uncovering narratives in gestures and choreography.

This workshop is open to filmmakers, film producers, journalists, media artists, scholars and anyone who’d like to delve into the potential of musicality and there will be space given for participants to share a work-in-progress and receive feedback from the group.

Seats are limited, so sign up today!

NOTE: This workshop will require in-person participation from all participants. Each participant must present proof of vaccination. Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, choreographers, dancers, performance and media artists looking to develop the cinematic languages with which they can represent and incorporate movement.

$350 early bird registration by May 10th, 2024 at 11:59PM.

$400 regular registration.

For each workshop, UnionDocs will offer the equivalent of 2 full scholarships for participants from historically marginalized backgrounds, who are BIPOC,  living with disabilities, or NYC artists earning under 30% AMI (Area Median Income).

Applicants should reach out to [email protected] in order to fill out a scholarship inquiry by April 24th, 2024.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until April 30th. After May 10th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

NOTE: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash.  After the early bird registration deadline of May 10th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, May 17

10:00am – 10:30am Welcome & intros
10:30am – 12:30pm Intro session with Pablo Álvarez-Mesa
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Session with Paula Gaitán 
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap Up Discussion

Saturday, May 18

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case studies
10:30am – 12:30pm Work-in-progress with lead instructor
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Session with Samita Sinha
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap Up Discussion 

Sunday, May 19

10:00am – 10:30am Warm up, inspiring references, case study, eye training.
10:30am – 12:30pm Session with  Konstantine Vlasis (Zoom)
12:30am – 2:00pm Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm Session with Lucy Kerr
4:00pm – 4:30pm Wrap Up Discussion

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


First Workshop Session




Second Workshop Session


Wrap Up


Pablo Álvarez-Mesa is a filmmaker, cinematographer and editor working mainly in non fiction, whose films have played and earned awards at international film festivals including Berlinale, IFFR, Viennale, MoMA, Visions du Réel, and RIDM. His work in cinema lies in the relationship between fact and fiction; between what is recalled and what is inevitably constructed. Pablo is Sundance Doc Fund grantee, an affiliate member of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University, and a Berlinale Talents, Banff Centre for the Arts and Canadian Film Centre alumnus.

Artist and composer Samita Sinha creates multidisciplinary performance works that unravel Indian vocal traditions through the body to create a decolonized, multivalent language of voice and vibration. Sinha’s works have been commissioned by Asia Society, Performance Space, Danspace, Rubin Museum, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Queens Museum, Gibney Dance, and Western Front, and presented by The Kitchen, Wexner Center for the Arts, REDCAT, PICA, National Sawdust and others. She has received awards from National Endowment for the Arts, Fulbright Foundation, National Performance Network, and New York State Council on the Arts.

Lucy Kerr (b. Houston, Texas 1990) is a filmmaker, artist, choreographer, and educator. Her work is rooted in questions of image-making and performance and how both of these are tied up with ritual and transformation. Kerr received and MFA in Film/Video and Art from California Institute of the Arts in 2020. In 2022, she was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Filmmaker Magazine. Her debut feature film, Family Portrait, premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2023 and garnered her the Locarno Boccalino d’Oro for Best Director, the feature film grant from Austin Film Society and the AirFrance Prize from FIDLab, and the New Horizons Award from US in Progress at the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland. Her short film, Crashing Waves, is in the permanent collection of Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in Marseille, France. Kerr’s projects have been presented by International Film Festival Rotterdam, FIDMarseille, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Reykjavik International Film Festival, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, REDCAT, Anthology Film Archives, Francois Ghebaly Gallery, The McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, and others.

Konstantine Vlasis is a scholar and composer of ecological sound. His work explores how sound, music, and listening together mediate ecological relationships, and the efficacy of audio-based mediums for climate communication and environmental storytelling. His current project, “Listening With Glaciers: The Sounds and Songs of a Melting Landscape,” traces the human ecology of glaciers in Iceland through ambient sound and traditional music. Mr. Vlasis is an NYU Torch Fellow, Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellow, and Fulbright-NSF Arctic Research Fellow. He is currently a PhD Candidate in Music and Sound Studies at NYU, and an active member of the percussion quartet, Apex Percussion.

Paula Gaitán was born in Paris in 1954. A visual artist, photographer, poet, and filmmaker with a Visual Arts degree from the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, Gaitán has been working in film since 1978, when she participated as an art director in Glauber Rocha’s The Age of the Earth. She has created several documentaries, video art, and plastic art installations for numerous collective exhibitions.

Paula’s work combines a deeply personal artistic vision with palpable reality. Her filmography consists of 9 feature length films. In 2016, the Cinematheque of Museum of Modern Art (MAM – Rio de Janeiro) presented a retrospective of her work , and Mostra Tiradentes, also in Brazil, presented a homage to her work in the 2021 edition. .

Currently lives and works in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.

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May 17, 2024 at 10:00 am
May 19, 2024 at 4:30 pm
$350.00 – $400.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
QUEENS, NY 11385 United States
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