"I wanted to make a film that celebrates Black people through the voices of Black professional dancers in the industry in Los Angeles," says film director Tajana Bunton-Williams. "The commercial dance industry is structured in a way that primarily undermines career growth of Black Talent and excludes them from opportunities to monetize their gifts in sustainable ways. Unlike the culture of Ballet or Contemporary dance, Hip-hop dancers struggle to make a living as more than background props for a music artist. Rarely are they showcased for their innate gifts and artistry outside of a music video or a live tour for a recording artist. I hope that ‘Back Beat’ will empower Black people, celebrate Black joy & hopefully the next time someone watches hip-hop dance they can see it for the vulnerable and deeply skilled storytelling, art form that it is." While the featured dancers share stories of being tokenized, marginalized, and overlooked, they also express the joy their community brings them, emphasizing the uniting centrality of dance to family gatherings and reclaiming ownership of their movements, which are often appropriated. The film features music from Atlanta rapper Deante' Hitchcock, Memphis artist JEFF, and London musician cktrl.
Tajana B-Williams is a director born and raised in London, currently based in Los Angeles and London. Tajana’s directing style is heavily influenced by her professional dance career, having worked for many years with artists such as Beyoncé and Janelle Monáe, she has unique insights and points of inspiration from having been on the front lines of ground breaking immersive creative experiences with a global reach. Her love of dance deeply informs the development of her work as she often integrates choreography, abstract storytelling and a vibrant musicality in each piece she creates. She is currently focused on projects in the music, fashion and branded content space. Most recently she has worked with Ari Lennox, Chika, Victoria Monét and Destiny Rogers.