Atlanta Ballet’s Short Film “Force Of Habit” Demonstrates How Black People Navigate Spaces In The World

“Force of Habit” is a short film created by Atlanta Ballet Choreographer In-Residence Claudia Schreier.

Guggenheim Works & Process WPA

“Force of Habit” is the name of a new short film dedicated to Black people for whom daily existence is survival. The work features Atlanta Ballet dancer Keith Reeves performing choreography by Claudia Schreier. She is the Atlanta Ballet Choreographer-in-Residence. This project was created for Guggenheim Works & Process WPA Virtual Commissions Series. Reeves and Schreier joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about the film.

Interview Highlights:

The synopsis:

“It is about navigating space in the world as a Black person and about the need to steal oneself against seemingly innocuous experiences and daily interactions. The film follows a lone Black man as he begins his day and we watch him as he strengthens himself and adds layers to ultimately have the courage, security, and the confidence to walk through the world, knowing the obstacles are everywhere,” said Schreier.

Why Schreier chose the score of the film to be “The Single Petal of a Rose” by Duke Ellington:

“I really love ‘The Single Petal of a Rose.’ It felt appropriate to use music that was emblematic of the rich cultural history of Black contributions to the American sound. You could certainly make the case that that was the most influential Black musician in American history. His musical form of expression is jazz, which is Black music of course. And this piece in particular has such a rich, somber quality to it. As soon as I heard it, which was around the time of the protests last summer, I just knew that this is what it needed to be. The film felt like it needed to be rooted in this piece.”

Why Reeves loved working on this project:

“I loved working on this project because it was so based around the city [Atlanta]. Going into adulthood I grew up in the city, so the specific places where we shot were certain places that were very familiar to me. When I first came to the Atlanta Ballet for the Conservatory Program, I would catch a bus from McDonough, GA all the way to Atlanta at like 6 a.m. and one of the places that we shot was one of the places I used to get dropped off at. So, there was so many different places and things that was implemented in this video that were very personal to me,” said Reeves. He continued, “We shot my apartment, which was very personal to me and fun. I’ve always wanted to work on a project that showed the city in a great way with a great story.”

The short film can be viewed here.