Screen-based dance by Jen McLachlan
It’s not a rip off, it’s a homage
1 June 2010
Magnetic Movie, Semiconductor, 'homaged' in a recent IBM commercial Art has always influenced commercial creatives, and artists have often drawn on – appropriated, even – other parts of culture. It’s ...
Identical Twins in Hollywood Films
6 January 2010
Dead Ringer, Paul Henreid These Seven Wonders are inspired by Factum, the latest multi-channel video installation by artist Candice Breitz, that explores the experiences of identical twins in Toronto. Factum ...
Greg Kurcewicz on Country and Western music on YouTube
4 November 2009
Waylon Jennings on YouTube My 7 wonders are all to do with Country and Western, a genre of music that I have begun to explore more of over the ...
Editing by Jo Ann Kaplan
21 October 2009
Orphee, Jean Cocteau Here are 8 “magic” cuts. By “magic” I mean cuts or edits, or sequences made therefrom, which make my heart stop and my mouth open in suspension of ...
Passengers by Rob Gallagher
1 October 2009
Eyes Without a Face, Georges Franju A host of new, interactive viewing technologies mean that when it comes to moving images we’re increasingly used to being in the driving seat. All ...
Screen-based dance by Jen McLachlan
Danse Macabre, directed by Pedro Pires

Danse Macabre, directed by Pedro Pires

From over nine years of commissioning and viewing screen-based dance, these are the seven that most vividly remain in my mind.  They span the spectrum of what is considered screen-based dance and include experimental films, choreographic objects and installations.

1. Alt-I-Alt, Torbjørn Skårild, 2003

Synopsis: …when all is said and done, conclusions are not so important after all.

Alt-I-Alt is an experimental short where the choreography is created entirely through the rhythmic, humorous and suspense filled editing.  On my first viewing of this the audience burst into spontaneous applause midway through the film.

2. Birds, David Hinton, 1999

Synopsis: Imagine a dance film without dancers, yet filled with fascinating movement. Through film editing, music and a choreographer’s perception, the unrehearsed, natural movement of birds becomes an exhilarating dance experience.

It’s hard to keep to one David Hinton film in this selection as his work is seminal in the development of dance film, particularly his early work with Lloyd Newson.  However Birds remains a favourite not least because I enjoyed the outrage from the traditionalists when David won the ultimate screen dance prize in 2000 for this film which didn’t involve any human dancers or ‘choreography’.

3. Captives 2nd Movement, Nicole + Norbert Corsino, 2000

Visit Nicole + Norbert Corsino’s website to watch Captives (2nd Movement)

Synopsis:  Like reversed Antigones, they follow their circular route from the West to the East. They are unique or multiple and you won’t divert them, hardly get a chance to meet their eye, never reach them. Their battles are inner ones and yet they’ll throw them in your face. They know their way; no one else can see their horizon.

One of the earlier films that used motion capture and gaming technology to create an artistic dance film, strangely atmospheric.

4. Danse Macabre, Director: Pedro Pires, Choreography: Anne Bruce Falconer, 2008

Watch the trailer for Danse Macabre

Synopsis:  For a period of time, while we believe it to be perfectly still, lifeless flesh responds, stirs and contorts in a final macabre ballet. Are these spasms merely erratic motions or do they echo the chaotic twists and turns of a past life?

The original concept for this work came from renowned Canadian stage director Robert Lepage.  This film is beautifully shot, lit and ‘performed’ and I loved that it shocked me.

5. Routes, Alex Reuben, 2006

Watch the trailer for Routes.

Synopsis:  Routes is a road movie through the dance and music of the American Deep South. Inspired by Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (and evocative of Maya Deren’s seminal Meshes Of The Afternoon), Alex Reuben’s film offers an idiosyncratic documentation of lesser-known forms of American culture, and the extraordinary dancing Americans of the Deep South. From North Carolina to the Holy Grail of his childhood hero, Fats Domino, and the Jazz of New Orleans, Reuben captured on the road Appalachian Bluegrass, Clogging, Mississippi Fife and Drum Blues, Krumping, Memphis Hip-Hop, Indian Smoke Dance, Louisiana Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop, all in a vivid stream of sound and vision.

You get a real sense of the personal dedication and passion of filmmaker and DJ Alex Reuben, behind his 48 minutes of hand-held glory.  This beauty of a film is historically important, politically timely and above all a reminder of the sheer unstoppable force that is dance.

6. Synchronous Objects, Creative Directors: William Forsythe, Maria Palazzi, Norah Zuniga Shaw, 2009

Visit the Synchronous Objects interactive site.

Synopsis: Synchronous Objects reveals the interlocking systems of organization in William Forsythe’s ensemble dance One Flat Thing, reproduced through a series of objects that work in harmony to explore its choreographic structures and reimagine what else they might look like.

For many reasons; for the genius choreography of William Forsythe; for the film adaptation of the stage work by renowned dance film director Thierry de Mey; for the creation of an interactive choreographic object that gives insight into the work.

One of the exciting new types of choreographic objects in the form of innovative scores, creative tools, installations and archival systems for dance.  In addition the filmed adaptation of Forsythe’s One Flat Thing Reproduced is by leading dance filmmaker and composer Thierry de Mey who had to appear on this list somewhere.

7. The Long Road to Mazatlán, Isaac Julien, 1999

Synopsis:  The Long Road to Mazatlán, a video collaboration between Isaac Julien and the choreographer Javier de Frutos, is a fusion of movie and movement, a dance of gazes. Shot in and around San Antonio, Texas, it mixes familiar images of the West – the cowboy, the cattle yard, the dirt road – with a more contemporary and homoerotic iconography, unsettling each one. A tale of frustration and loss, the work offers no prescription for stable identity or for the satisfaction of desire, but the sensuality of its images and form is hearteningly seductive.

Can’t say much more than the synopsis although there was a small scandal when this work was nominated for the Turner Prize in Julien’s name alone…. the myth mill holds this scandal responsible for Julien not winning.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 | Tagged with , ,


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