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.

A Guide to the 2009 Dance On Camera Festival

It’s already that time of year again, when the Dance On Camera Festival rolls into Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. Over two weeks (Jan 6-Jan 17th) there will be screenings, panels, workshops, a Round Table, and a Town Meeting. Here are some of the highlights to put on your new 2009 calendar!

SCREENINGS

The DOCF shows a combination of dance for camera features, dance for camera shorts, revivals, and dance documentaries. I have tried to categorize the programs below, however please check their official schedule and program descriptions, as the dance for camera shorts get squeezed into many programs.

Most of the programs take place at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center Plaza. For tickets and info go to: http://www.filmlinc.com/buytickets.htm

Also check out the discounts on tickets available for Dance Films Association Members here.

Dance For Camera Features:

VSPRS Show and Tell

Sophie Fiennes, 2006, Belgium; 72m

I’m not sure if this is a documentary, a dance for camera piece, or archival footage of a performance, but it sounds intriguing. The description on the Dance Film’s Association’s website says it’s a “hybrid marvel—part performance, part documentary– in which dance, drama and music fuse to mesmerizing effect.” The filmmaker, Sophie Fiennes (“A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema”) collaborated with Alain Patel of Les Ballets C de la B, to create a contemporary interpretation of Verdi’s famous religious work “Maria Vespers.”

Friday, Jan 9, Walter Reade Theatre, 8:30pm (repeats on Jan 11, 6:15pm)

Historia

Karsten Liske, 2007, Germany; 2007; 45m

A young woman’s short life is visualized in the dramatic interplay of choreographic and abstract images. Awarded the price for best film work at NapoliDanza Festival 2008.

This program will also include Nora by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton with Zimbabwean choreographer Nora Chipaumire. A gorgeously shot portrait of a woman’s life growing up in revolutionary Zimbabwe.

Saturday, Jan 10, Walter Reade Theatre, 8:45pm (repeats Jan 11., 4:15pm)

Revivals:

Busby Berkeley Celebration – Saturday January 10

Don’t miss an entire day of programs paying homage to the great master of kinetic cinema!

Under the Influence of Busby Berkeley (Gallery, Sat. 1/10,2:30pm)

Dance Film-maker Kriota Willberg surveys a great range of films, music videos, and commercials that have been directly influenced by Berkeley, also notable because it will include an excerpt from Fünf ‘n’ Twist by yours truly! Other contributors in the line up include Richard James Allen, Jess Curtis and Kwame Braun, Michel Gondry, Kat Green, Jennie Livingston, Lucky Strike cigarettes, Anna Brady Nuse, Nuvaring®/Schering Corporation, Jonathon Rosen, Keith Schofield, and Kriota Willberg.

Dames – Ray Enright with Busby Berkeley, USA, 1934; 90m (Walter Reade, Sat. 1/10, 4:00pm)

It’s the 50th Anniversary of Dames! Revel in the pageantry, the  bathtubs, alarm clocks, blondes, and brunettes all dancing in perfectly geometric, kaleidoscopic style.

Gangs all Here – Busby Berkeley, USA, 1943; 103m (Walter Reade, Sat. 1/10, 6:30pm)

Featuring Carmen Miranda in her “Tutti Frutti” hat!

The Blue Bird

Maurice Tourneur, 1918 film, US; 81m

Celebrating dance in classic silent films, The Blue Bird is based on the play of the same title by Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck.

Sunday, Jan 11, Walter Reade Theatre, 2pm

Ishanou (The Chosen One)

Aribam Syam Sharma, India, 1991; 91m

This film was one of the notable hits of the 1990 Cannes Festival.  Based on a story by Manipuri writer MK Binodini Devi, THE CHOSEN is a rich melodrama that contrasts ordinary domestic life with the strange rituals of the Meitei matriarchal cult.

Friday, Jan 16, Walter Reade Theatre, 3pm (repeats Jan 17, 1pm)

Dance For Camera Shorts:

EMPAC DANCE MOViES

Wednesday Jan 7, Walter Reade Theatre 9pm

This is a great collection of shorts commissioned by EMPAC in 2007 through The Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and the Performing Arts. I got to see this program at EMPAC’s grand opening weekend back in October (see my earlier post), and am so happy it is making the tour of other film festivals for all to see. Some of the gems of this program is the hauntingly beautiful Nora, an abstract portrayal of Zimbabwean dancer Nora Chipaumire’s life and coming of age during the Chimurenga revolution (repeated on Sun Jan 11th @ 4:15pm), and Propriedad Horizontal a clever choreographic study in a narrow space from Argentina.

Jiri Kylian & Hans Hulscher collaboration

Thursday, Jan 8, Walter Reade Theatre

4pm –  (repeat Jan 17,3:30pm)

Three productions by Jiri Kylian and Nederlans Dance Theater shot for television by Hans Hulscher. They include Wings of Wax, Petit Mort, and Sleepless. Kylian’s own dance film Car Men, was one of the best shorts shown at last year’s festival. The works on this program are  stage pieces adapted for television, and will likely be beautiful for screen.

Magnetic Cinema, Matchbox, Sens 1

Thursday, Jan 8, Walter Reade Theatre 8:45pm

(repeat Jan 16, 1pm)

I’m excited about this program of three dances for the camera that promise to be truly cinematic as well as choreographic. It starts out with Pierre Coulibeuf’s Magnetic Cinema inspired by French Canadian choreographer Benoit Lachambre’s “Lugares Comunes”. The program of Coulibeuf’s films shown last year was sufficiently intriguing and environmentally arresting to make me want to see more. Matchbox by Daniel Belton from New Zealand is an evocative “partnership game” played out on a jazzy dance floor with dazzling physicality. In Sens 1 two dancers—Francesca Bonato and Magalie Bouze from Compagnie des Indes- joined like Siamese twins by their left feet, move around a crackling bubble-wrap carpet that resembles a dimly lit boxing ring.

Innovative Shorts

Friday, Jan 9, Walter Reade Theatre 6:15pm (repeats on Jan 11, 8:30pm)

A marathon program of 11 shorts that cover subjects ranging from birth (Manuelle Labor by Marie Losier in collaboration with Guy Maddin) to Martha Graham (Bardo by Richard Move) to women imitating their dads dancing (Dance Like Your Old Man by Gideon Obarzanek & Edwina Throsby). I live for stuff like this!

Kinetic Cinema with Dance Film Pioneer Educator, Ellen Bromberg

Wednesday Jan. 14, Chez Bushwick at 8:00 pm

Kinetic Cinema will feature a program curated by Ellen Bromberg, a professor of dance at University of Utah and a pioneer educator of dance for the camera. Bromberg will show dance films created by choreographers and filmmakers who have attended her workshops in Victoria, BC and Regina, Saskatchewan over the past five years. These workshops have attracted experienced artists in many genres providing them with the opportunity to explore dance film as a new way of seeing and framing the moving body.

Admission is $10; tickets can be purchased at the door.

Chez Bushwick is located at 304 Boerum St., Buzzer #11 in Brooklyn, NY 11206.

Trains: L to Morgan Ave. Exit back of the train. Turn LEFT outside the station. Turn LEFT onto Boerum Street.

Showings on Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery Screen:

A program of dance for camera shorts will play continuously in the Gallery outside of the Walter Reade Theatre including: Arising by Ben Dolphin, Caution by Susannah Newman, Embodiments of Silence by Tim Glenn, An Issue of Trust by Allison Fischer, Multiplied Subtraction by Michael Cole, and Reincarnation by Takeshi Kushida.

Documentary Programs:

Ballerina

Bertrand Normand, 2007, France; 77m

For the balletomanes out there, Ballerina profiles six of the rising stars of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg Russia. This film has been receiving rave reviews and was recently released on DVD from First Run Features. This program will be  accompanied by Play: On the beach with the Ballets Russes featuring archival footage of dancers from the Ballets Russes frolicking on the beach in Sidney, Australia during their 1936-1940 tours.

Wednesday Jan 7, Walter Reade Theatre 6:15pm  (repeats Jan 8, 1:30pm)

Antonio Gades: The Ethics of Dancing

Juan Cano Arecha, 2007, Spain; 56m

Here’s one for Flamenco lovers. This new documentary reveals previously unseen images of the dancer’s work, including his choreography for “Ad Libitum” danced with Alicia Alonso and an excerpt from “Giselle” in which he performed the role of Hilarion, among other surprises. The program is accompanied by two shorts by David Fernandez: Objects in Mirror are Closer than They Appear made with members of ABT and NYCB, and Icarus APR (Annual Percentage Rate) a solo based on a modern interpretation of the Icarus legend.

Thursday, Jan 8, Walter Reade Theatre 6:15pm (repeat Jan 9, 2pm)

The Dance of the Enchantress

Adoor Gopalakrishnan & Brigitte Chataignier, 2007, France; 70m

A film that explores the beauty of the Indian dance form of Mohiniyattam (“mohini means enchantress and attam translates as graceful movements) from the  southern state of Kerala. Both devotional and sensuous in nature, “Mohinitattam” lays emphasis on romance—the shades, colors and moods of love.

Friday, Jan 9, Walter Reade Theatre, 4pm (repeats Jan 16, 9pm)

American Masters Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, with Panel

Judy Kinberg, 2008, USA; 112m

How does one describe a genius like Jerome Robbins—the choreographer/director who transformed the Broadway musical and left an indelible mark on the world of classical ballet? Here is a sneak-peek at an extraordinary documentary that explores this complex figure in all his contradictory colors. See it on the big screen prior to its PBS airing on February 4th.

Friday, Jan 16, Walter Reade Theatre 6:15pm

WORKSHOPS

Through the Lens

Study each day with four award-winning filmmakers

Jan 6-Ben Dolphin (director of ARISING)

Jan 7-Alla Kovgan (co-director of NORA)

Jan 8-Daniel Belton (director of MATCHBOX and AFTER DURER)

Jan 9-Douglas Rosenberg (co-director of OF THE HEART)

Workshop co-ordinated by Ellen Bromberg

Held at Dance New Amsterdam.

Click here for more info and to make reservations.

PANELS:

Judson Memorial Church Programs with Movement Research

Two discussions with screenings January 6 and 13, 2009, 7pm, Free

January 6th discussion led by Stacy Spence

Theme: Narrative/Abstract and Environments

With excerpts drawn from Helenka by Karen Rose, Black Spring by Benoit Dervaux, Mobius Strip by Vincent Pluss, and Night Practice by Susanna Wallin.

Stacy Spence is a New York choreographer, dancer, teacher who has worked internationally as a member of the Trisha Brown Company. He is a 2008 Movement Research Artist in Residence.

January 13 Discussion led by Karl Cronin and Pavel Zustiak

Themes: Power of Limits, Human/Animal Interaction & influence,

Cultural relationship to environment

With excerpts drawn from Alt I Alt by Tobjorn Skarild, Touched by David Hinton, Poem by Maia Sørensen, Inearthia by Simon Halbedo/Nazario Branca/Maren Sandmann, Reines d’un Jour by Pascal Magnin, and Lacho Drom by Tony Gatlif.

Jury Prize Awards Reception

Saturday, Jan 1oth, Walter Reade Theatre 7pm in Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery, RSVP

Presenters Roundtable Brunch

Sunday, Jan 11, Walter Reade Theatre 11:30am in Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery

PANEL on New Online Distribution Platforms for Dance Media

Saturday, Jan 17, Walter Reade Theatre 4:00-4:30pm in Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery

Led by Marlon Barrios Solano with representatives from: TenduTV, Kaltura, Reframe, Dance-Media, and Dance-Tech.net in the Gallery

TOWN MEETING!!

Saturday, Jan 17, Walter Reade Theatre 4:30-6:00pm in Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery

TOWN MEETING for the Dance on Camera Community moderated by Zach Morris of the Dance Film Lab in the Gallery. Everyone is invited to participate and lend their voice to the discussion about dance film issues pertinent to them. After the meeting, members are invited to continue the conversation informally over coffee/tea at the nearby Le Pain Quotidien at 60 West 65th Street.
Finally, in case I’ve missed anything, here is a link to more last minute news about the festival. I’ll keep posting about events throughout the week. Hope to see you there!

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!

Seeking Dancers and Crew for a Videodance Shoot

Fünf 'n' TwistMatt Sweeney and Donna Costello in Fünf ‘n’ Twist, photo: Anna Brady Nuse

In August I am shooting a new videodance entitled Fünf ‘n’ Twist, an abstract narrative short about a teenage couple at the prom. The prom scenes will be shot Thursday Aug 14th and Friday Aug 15th all day from approximately 8am-6pm in Washington Heights. Currently I am looking for male dancers as well as several crew positions both paid and non-paid.

About Fünf ‘n’ Twist: Using dance, ritualized movement, evocative sounds and imagery, the classically American rite of passage of the prom will be depicted as a metaphor for the adolescence of the country itself as it lurches clumsily towards a cultural adulthood. Last spring I shot the final scenes of the film, and you can see a rough cut study of the ending here on vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/1134237.

Below are descriptions of the positions I’m looking for.

Talent:

3-6 male dancers for prom scene. Must be able to dance (or be comfortable moving), and could pass for a prom-goer. Having your own tux is a plus, but not required. You must be available between 9am-5pm on Aug 14th and 15th. Pay will be $75/day. Please send a current headshot/photo to anuse@speakeasy.net.

Crew positions:
Production Manager: Responsible for assisting the director/producer with pre-production planning and managing all the logistics of the production. Will coordinate cast and crew, and stay on top of the budget and time schedule during the production. Must be available 8am-8pm Aug 13th-15th as well as for some preliminary planning work leading up to these days. Fee commensurate with experience. Please send resume to anuse@speakeasy.net.

Production Designer/Art Director: For a ’60’s era prom scene in a short experimental dance video. Must be resourceful, and able to make magic with a small budget! Must be available 8am-6pm Aug 13th-15th and for planning meetings with the director & DP leading up to these days. Fee commensurate with experience. Please send resume and portfolio/reel to Anna Brady Nuse: anuse@speakeasy.net

Lighting Designer/Grip: Shot-specific lighting for a ’60’s era prom scene. Must be flexible and able to make magic with a small budget. Must be available 8am-6pm Aug 13th-15th and for planning meetings with the director & DP leading up to these days. Fee commensurate with experience. Please send resume and portfolio/reel to Anna Brady Nuse: anuse@speakeasy.net

Production Assistants: Flexible, strong, energetic, and eager to learn about the makings of a videodance! Must be available on Aug 14th & 15th 8am-6pm. Also need prep help all day Aug 13th. No pay, but a great way to gain experience and skills. You will be given credit on the film and fed!

For more info, please contact me at anuse@speakeasy.net, and if you know of others who would be good for these positions please forward this link to them! 

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!

What’s My Frame?

Matt Gough replied to my call to action in “What’s in a Name?” and posted a couple responses on his tumblr, Quodlibet: here and here.

He asks: so i’m wondering how anna frames her work … why the preference for video dance, and what is her genre?

Well, as my blog is aptly titled, my frame moves around a lot. I
started out an experimentalist. I was just excited by what I could do
with a camera that I couldn’t do with live choreography. I was mostly
influenced by Maya Deren,
and her extensive experimentation with choreography for the camera. My
definitions of dance and choreography were always quite wide, but
having a camera to look through blew them open even further.  I could
capture movement wherever I found it and through editing I could shape
it anyway I chose. The movement didn’t need to be executed by humans. I
could create viewable dances literally out of anything, and in fact my
first two videodances were edited from footage of trash found on the
streets of Brooklyn.

"Trash Processional"

< “Trash Processional”

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What’s in a name?

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I figured for my first entry I should tackle the biggest question looming over the art form of dance for the camera today, and that is: what should it be called?

There are so many names being batted around: screendance, dance film, cinedance, kinodance, videodance, media dance. I’m sure there are more I don’t even know. Each one has its merits and problems. Each one is has its staunch following of supporters and naysayers.

But what is important about having a name? Everyone is always complaining about being pigeon-holed, mislabeled, stuck in a category. Isn’t one of the great things about this art form that it’s still emerging and being defined? Practitioners in the field now are like pioneers on the new frontier. As my friend Matt Cook, a Milwaukee-based poet says: “It was easy to write the Great American Novel when there were only 5 American Novels.” How exciting to be on the vanguard of a wave that hasn’t crested yet!

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