“Escape to Wonderland” Music Video

“Escape to Wonderland” is my first music video, written and performed by the talented composer/writer J Why. This video is odd for me because it does not feature dance at all. Even when it is hard to tell that my videos have dance, I still tend to base my decisions on movement (patterns, rhythms, directions). Instead for this video I let the story and emotions of the song lead my choices. I want to thank many friends and family who are featured in this video including two of my sisters (one on cello, the other playing the leading role!), J’s sister Hillary Maroon singing the vocals, and my friend Nelson for lending me his Olympus DSLR camera!
I hope this is the beginning of many more homespun collaborations to come 😉

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Fünf ‘n’ Twist Photo Montage

Here are photos from two finished sections of our videodance triptych, Fünf ‘n’ Twist. The indoor shots are of the prom scenes in which the boy (Matt Sweeney) steals a belt with a brass eagle buckle from the stern German Matron (Donna Costello). The outdoor scenes are when the boy and girl (Matt & Donna) flee the prom and escape to an overgrown city park where they finally get it on. This spring we plan to shoot a middle section that will be a flash forward of the couple in a dark apocalyptic future in which power plays over the belt buckle escalate into violence.

The Final Kinetic Cinema of the Year

Join us for the final dance film screening event of the season!

Still from "Funf 'n' Twist" by Anna Brady Nuse

Still from Fünf ‘n’ Twist

On Monday December 1st at 7:30 pm, Kinetic Cinema will feature new and old works on American culture and life in war-times. The first half of the program will feature sisters Kerrie Welsh (video artist) and Sasha Welsh (choreographer) who will show a live performance of an in-progress excerpt from their current collaboration, Trace Decay, as well as films and videos by historically important female figures that have influenced their thinking about gender, media, violence and the aesthetics of war.

The second half of the program will be a selection of films that have influenced film-maker Anna Brady Nuse and composer J Why in the making of their latest videodance collaboration, Fünf ‘n’ Twist. Drawing from classic images of American adolescence in the 20th Century, Fünf ‘n’ Twist is a satirical teenage odyssey that takes place at the prom and grapples with issues of freedom and authority. In addition to showing a rough cut of the work, the artists will discuss the how their project came about with marketing executive Calvin Wilson.

Trace Decay

Trace Decay

Kinetic Cinema

Monday Dec 1st, 7:30pm
$10 Admission
Reservations: 212.254.5277

Interborough Repertory Theater (IRT)
154 Christopher Street, Suite 3B (btw Greenwich & Washington Streets)
New York, NY 10014
Trains: 1, PATH to Christopher Street

Kinetic Cinema explores the intersection of dance and the moving image both on screen and stage. Each month Anna Brady Nuse invites a special guest from the dance community to share the films and videos that have inspired or moved them. These could be films that feature dance, are kinetic-based,or have
been influential on their work in some way. The guest curators come from a range of backgrounds as performers, choreographers,critics, and filmmakers. Stay tuned for more info on our new season at Chez Bushwick starting January 14th, 2009!

Kinetic Cinema is a co-presentation of Collective:Unconscious and Pentacle Movement Media, and is part of The Collective for Loving Cinema Series, a weekly themed-film series presented by Collective:Unconscious. The Collective for Loving Cinema Series is supported, in part, by the New York
State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. This presentation of Fünf ‘n’ Twist is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administrated by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Movement Media is a new project of Pentacle, offering screenings, services, and online interactive publications about dance for screen. For more info and to get up-to-date news and event information go to www.pentacle.org or Move the Frame blog: www.movetheframe.com.

photos from top: Fünf ‘n’ Twist by Anna Brady Nuse; Trace Decay photo: Steven Screiber, performers: Cynthia St. Clair and Cindy Chung Camins

See Footage From My New Videodance, "Fünf ‘n’ Twist" at the September Dance Film Lab

Tika_Matron-146x400.jpgNext Tuesday (Sept 2nd) I’ll be showing brand new footage from my latest videodance project, Fünf ‘n’ Twist. Two weeks ago I shot the prom scenes for this surreal Busby Berkeley-esque, satire that oozes with kitschy Americana, German expressionism, and Jungian symbology. Come see what a raw videodance looks like before it gets cooked!

Details:

The Dance Film Lab is moderated and organized by Zach Morris (Third
Rail Projects), produced and run with the assistance of Kathleen Green,
and in cooperation with the Dance Films Association. Hosted by Dance
Theater Workshop, this salon brings dance filmmakers together to
present raw footage, drafts, works-in-progress and newly finished films
to their peers for constructive feedback, to share information, and
address technical, practical and artistic challenges. The lab is free
and open to the public, though reservations are necessary.

For our upcoming September 2nd Dance Film Lab, where we’ll be screening the work of Leah Kelley Xylona and Anna Brady Nuse.

Dance Film Lab, Tuesday, September 2, 2008 8-10pm
at Dance Theater Workshop (DTW)
219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
Phone: (212) 691-6500 Click Here for DTW’s website.
Please contact Zach Morris to RSVP.
 
 (please note: Zach will out of town August 24th to the morning of September 2nd.  During this time he will not be responding to emails, so if you email him, simply consider your RSVP confirmed).

Photo credit: Production still from the set of Fünf ‘n’ Twist, directed by Anna Brady Nuse (Tika pictured as the Matron). photo by Susanna Christians.

The Making of FÜNF ‘N’ TWIST

Funf'n'Twist_Boys_arch.jpg

Dancers: Remi Harris, Matt Sweeney, Donna Costello, Kyleigh Sackandy, Zachary Pace, production still from Fünf ‘n’ Twist, directed by Anna Brady Nuse. Photo: Penelope Roussetzki

For the last three weeks I’ve been completely consumed by my videodance project, Fünf ‘n’ Twist. Last Thursday and Friday we shot all the prom scenes of the video, and it marked my first time directing (and producing) an indoor shoot.

Kerrie Welsh & J Why, on set of Fünf ‘n’ Twist. Photo: Susanna Christians
Kerrie_ladder.jpg
Through a monumental effort on the part of my cast and crew, we got all the essential shots done, including a tricky Busby Berkeley-esque overhead shot that required my DP, Kerrie Welsh, to climb a 16 foot extension ladder and mount her camera to the side with a hi-hat and rachet strap.

I haven’t even looked at the footage yet. I need a few days to clear my mind before I launch into the editing process, but I can share with you the storyboard for the scenes we shot, and some production stills.

Fünf ‘n’ Twist – Twist Dance Storyboard from Anna Brady Nuse on Vimeo.

This storyboard is of the twist dance scenes of the video. Originally I was also going to shoot a slow dance scene that would have more of an 80’s feeling. However on the first day of shooting we were getting very behind schedule, and I realized the slow dance scenes would have to be cut. I had already decided that they weren’t so essential to the story line, and in some ways they might have even detracted from the overall piece. The twist dance is at the opening of the video, and the dance along with the music will set up the themes of authoritarianism & rebellion, fear, sex, and that in between place I’m calling fünf, as well as point towards America’s cultural adolescence in the second half of the 20th Century.

Production still of Fünf ‘n’ Twist. Photo: Susanna Christians
Fünf-n-twist_Set_for_overhead.jpgRemarkably we were able to shoot all of the scenes I had envisioned without any major compromises. My dancers pulled off the choreography that I came up with on paper.. Donna Costello and Matt Sweeney, the two leads, rehearsed the choreography with me ahead of time and then taught it to the other three couples on set.

The dancers all handled the surprises I threw at them with poise and a can-do attitude. This included asking the guys to flip off the girls’ backs from a bridge position and do a cartwheel from the left side. The latter request wasn’t possible for all the male dancers to do, but our grip, Stephen Long, stepped in to save the day. With a background in gymnastics he put on the tux and performed the cartwheel perfectly, earning a second credit of “stunt double.”

Girls_duck-n-cover.jpg

Remi Harris, Kyle Pinneo, Donna Costello, Matt Sweeney, Production still from Fünf ‘n’ Twist.
Photo: Penelope Roussetzki

Now I just have one more scene to shoot, which is a “flash-forward” scene of the lead couple holed up in a dingy tenement with paper walls. I won’t give away the details, but I’m hoping to raise the funds and resources to shoot these scenes in early ’09. In the meantime I’ll be working hard along with my composer/collaborator, J Why to create a rough cut of the finished scenes to screen here in New York before the end of the year.

Funf-n-Twist_Twirl-Around.jpg

Production still from Fünf ‘n’ Twist. Photo: Susanna Christians

Here is a video study of the final scenes of the film, when the boy and girl escape the prom and run into a wild overgrown city park to “get it on.” Instead of portraying the cliche sex scenes literally, I decided to portray them in a ritualistic metaphorical way, where we see the inner feelings of the characters portrayed outwardly in symbolic imagery.

More images and video coming soon!

Artist-driven Curating and How it Could Help Galvanize a Screendance Movement

Fist200x285.jpgAt the Screendance conference at ADF two weeks ago, I presented a paper that put forth an argument for the value of “artist-driven” curating in developing and galvanizing an art form.  I wanted to propose a way of raising awareness about screendance among dance communities that would help dancers feel like they can enter this art form that is new to them with a set of useable skills and knowledge already in place. In forming a strategy, I drew upon Paulo Friere’s concept of praxis from his pivotal book on liberation education, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. For Freire, the way to raise consciousness among any group of people is by posing problems. This process of asking questions and raising problems, activates both students and teachers in a dialogue that brings about reflection and leads to future action.  Freire calls this pattern of action-reflection-action praxis, and it is through praxis that people engage in cognitive discovery of their lives that is transformative and empowering. From third world peasants to American dance artists, this process enables people to transform their daily realities and create lives full of meaning.

In my Kinetic Cinema screening series I posed a question to my guest curators from the  NYC dance community, “What films and videos have influenced and inspired your work in dance?” Each curator came up with a completely different way of answering that question, and the works they chose revealed their own unique thinking patterns and artistic processes. Some curators, such as Malinda Allen, chose to curate autobiographical evenings, chronicling their artistic development through pivotal works that have inspired them. Other curators, like Levi Gonzalez, chose to show work that was new to them, and investigate the commonalities and differences between screendance and dance performance. Still others such as Jonah Bokaer and Kriota Willberg, have studied the history of film and video art extensively, and for their programs they decided to delve into very specific areas of research such as feminist video art and the female body, or “bad dance” films.

Judson Dance Theater, photo Elaine Summers
judson-elainesummers-200x13.jpgKinetic Cinema is an example of what I have dubbed “artist-driven” curating, in which artists get together and share works that have meaning to them, often in informal intimate settings. The value of this type of curating is that it sparks artistic dialogue and exchange between the “makers” in a field, which can then lead to new art movements with distinct identities and progressive agendas. There have been numerous artist-driven curating collectives in the past that have had a huge impact upon the development of dance and film. A classic example of artist-driven curating is the Judson Dance Theater that formed in the early sixties as a collective of experimental dance artists interested in pushing the boundaries of post-modern dance. They were given the meeting room of the historical Judson Church to conduct their investigations and present public performances. The work that resulted from these programs went on to fuel the modern dance community for decades to come, with generations of dancers and choreographers spring-boarding off of the ideas and breakthroughs of the original collective.

François Truffaut

truffaut200x150.jpgOn the film side, Jean Luc Godard would never have developed his unique and influential style without his competitive and close relationship with fellow French New Wave director, François Truffaut. Although they were very different in many ways, their artistic visions were honed and shaped by the intense dialogue and exchange of ideas they had with each other over many years. The French New Wave was born out of the critical discourse started by writers and cinephiles in the film journal, Cahiers du Cinéma. These writers were seeking a new type of cinema that didn’t exist in France at the time, one that married their love of low-brow Hollywood genre flicks, with more experimental, intentional, and referential nuances found in high art, all brought together by their strong vision of the director as auteur. When these writers began acting upon their critiques, and creating work of their own, the French New Wave was born, and gave rise to a new era of filmmaking that completely changed the art form in much the same way the Judson Dance Theater group did for dance.

There have never been more ways for individuals to share and distribute their media content than there are today. With the rise of the internet, and the social media of Web 2.0, today’s artist-driven initiatives are less inhibited by distance or financial limitations. Some recent examples of artist-driven projects for screendance on the internet are the social network dance-tech.net founded by NY-based dance media artist, Marlon Barrios-Solano, blogs such as this one, and email lists such as the media-arts-and-dance listserv moderated by Simon Fildes. These online forums are bringing together an international community of dance filmmakers who can interact and share work and ideas with each other easily and instantaneously. The result will be a more unified and cosmopolitan screendance community, where new entrants can feel part of an existing movement.

New art movements and genres don’t get made overnight, but in the case of screendance, it is crucial to raise awareness and interest in the dance community. Through curating initiatives that pose questions and engage artists and audiences in dialogue, we can facilitate praxis. This process involves leading artists to examine, critique and analyze dance in media, and also to make work of their own, thereby transforming and shaping the genre and, by extension, the world. Artist-driven curating is one proven way to galvanize an arts community and further the identity of an art movement. These artist-driven initiatives, while often underground and informal, serve as springs that feed into larger institutions, such as dance film festivals, museums/galleries, performance venues, and universities. It is in these small, seemingly insignificant ways, that we can move screendance into cultural prominence, and make dance relevant in today’s mediatized world.

Continue reading

Summer Travels and Videodance

I’m about to start a twelve day cross-country road trip, driving from West to East with one of my best friends who’s moving back to Vermont. We’ll be stopping at a bunch of national parks along the way including Crater Lake (OR), Glacier (MT), Yellowstone & the Grand Tetons (WY), and the Blackhills & the Badlands (SD). It’s gonna be great, but I won’t be able to post to Move the Frame for a while. There are lots of videodance activities happening around the world this summer, so I thought I’d leave you with a few things to keep you busy while I’m MIA.

As soon as I get back to New York, I will be leaving again, this time to go to the Screendance conference at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC from July 10-13th, where I will be delivering a paper on curating. Below is the abstract for my presentation, which is titled after a post I wrote here a few months ago.

Thoughts on Curating – How to Bring About a Shift in Perception

Screendance, while growing as a genre worldwide, is still basically unknown in American culture at large. Even within the field of dance, most choreographers and dancers in the United States believe they are unable to name a single work of screendance. The problem is that so much dance for screen is perceived to be part of another genre, be it music videos, advertisements, or experimental films. Screendance as a genre is a foreign concept to the typical viewer, but only a slight shift of perception is necessary to render it familiar and identifiable. To help bring about this shift in perception in my own dance community, I have started a monthly screening series in which I invite guest artists to curate evenings of films and videos that have inspired their work with dance. In compiling their programs, my guest curators discover the knowledge they already have about media and dance and are able to share their insights in ways that other dancers can easily relate to. This simple curated series has raised awareness for the genre in my community and is laying a seed bed for future creativity and experimentation in the form. Like the Judson Dance Theater, Jonas Mekas’ New American Cinema Group, and more recently Richard Linklater’s Austin Film Society, forming an artist-driven curating collective for screendance has the ability to galvanize a community, inspire new work, and further the boundaries of the art form.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will recognize my thought processes on curating as I’ve written extensively about them in my posts about the Kinetic Cinema screening series for the past six months. I’m excited to listen and talk to the other presenters at the conference this year about this very important topic for videodance.

The other presentations at the conference will be:
“Screendance: Curating the Practice” (Opening Talk by Douglas Rosenberg)
 “Does Screendance Need to Look Like Dance?” by Claudia Kappenberg, Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, UK.
 “Tutus and Bonfires” by Gitta Wigro, a freelance programmer from the UK.
 “Beyond the Lens III” Sini Haapalinna, a freelance artist from Finland.

Also Meredith Monk will be honored for her work in film and give an intimate discussion with the Screendance participants. There will also be two curated programs during the conference in addition to the Dancing for the Camera Festival taking place at the same time, which is open to the public..

If you can’t get down to North Carolina this summer, then those of you in Europe should head to the Cinedans Festival taking place July 3-10th in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

From the Cinedans website:

This
sixth edition of the Cinedans has an exclusive collection of national
and international dance films in store for you. Films from a new
generation of dance film makers will be screened from over fifteen
countries. Six documentaries allow you a glance into the dance kitchen
of locally operating dancers or internationally renowned choreographers
and William Forsythe and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker compiled a varied
selection of their favorite dance films. In addition, Forsythe presents
filminstallations, exciting crossovers of performance, film, dance and
installation.

Janine Dijkmeijer, the director of Cinedans and Annelyke van den elshout, the program manager, were both at the first Kinetic Cinema screening in January as part of the Dance On Camera Festival. I was happy to see that they have started their own artist curating initiative this summer with their Carte Blanche program, in which they asked choreographers William Forsythe and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker to put together an evening of films and videos that have been influential on them personally and artistically. These kinds of artist-driven curating programs are so easy to do, and they give such wonderful results in terms of generating interest, dialog and connections for artists and viewers alike. I’m glad the idea is spreading, and I wish I could be there to see these programs! If anyone reading this is able to go, please send me your report and impressions!

Finally, I’m happy to report that I will be finishing production on a new videodance this summer called Fünf ‘n’ Twist. There will be many more postings about the creative process of making this work in the near future. In the meantime, you can watch a study of the ending of this piece that we made last spring here in HD on Vimeo!