Yanvalou

A film by Angeline Gragasin

An awkward computer programmer learns to dance to impress his next-door neighbor. Named after a dance from the Afro-Haitian Vodou tradition, Yanvalou is pure visual storytelling through image and action.

Featuring playful and sensual choreography by master Haitian dancer Julio Jean and music by Evans Seney, Fritz Vivien, and Jean-Mary Brignol, Yanvalou was inspired by a personal struggle to connect with human beings—and my own body—within the conflicting cultures of the dance studio and digital startup environments.


Written, Directed, Produced by Angeline Gragasin

Cinematography by Tine DiLucia

Executive Produced by The Bureau of Creative Works

Edited by Sebastian Diaz Aguirre

Production Design by Ryan O'Toole

Featuring Ike Ufomadu, Rachel Wyman, and Julio Jean

Costume Design by Angela Harner

Color by John Kersten

Poster Design by Alma Charry

Full credits on IMDb


Director’s Statement

“Yanvalou” was inspired by a personal struggle to connect with human beings—and my own body—within the conflicting cultures of the dance studio and digital startup environments. Though not a documentary per se, the film is based on a true story from my own personal experience. And while I myself am not a computer programmer (although I do have some basic coding skills!), considering the increasing number of hours I was spending at computer at the time, I could certainly empathize with the isolation and disembodiment a developer might begin to feel after spending so much time in the virtual world, in front of a screen—instead of in the real world, in their own body.

The Man’s (Ikechukwu Ufomadu) transformation through dance is based directly on my own real-life experience in master Haitian dancer and choreographer Julio Jean’s real-life dance class, alongside real-life dancer Rachel Wyman. This is exactly how I met Rachel and Julio in the first place: when I began taking Julio’s class at Cumbe Center for African and Diaspora Dance in 2014. Learning to dance with Rachel and Julio was a transformative, empowering experience for me. I wanted to share this experience—and inspire others who felt similarly disturbed by their own disembodiment—by dramatizing it into a short film, and making people laugh.

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Mike Ambs

I love to film things, tell stories, and read on the subway. I'm pretty sure blue whales are my power animal.