Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image

Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image

Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image

Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image

Synopsis

Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Imageexamines the choreographic in cinema - the way choreographic elements inform cinematic operations in dancefilm. It traces the history of the form from some of its earliest manifestations in the silent film era, through the historic avant-garde, musicals and music videos to contemporary experimental short dancefilms. In so doing it also examines some of the most significant collaborations between dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers.
The book also sets out to examine and rethink the parameters of dancefilm and thereby re-conceive the relations between dance and cinema. Dancefilm is understood as a modality that challenges familiar models of cinematic motion through its relation to the body, movement and time, instigating new categories of filmic performance and creating spectatorial experiences that are grounded in the somatic. Drawing on debates in both film theory (in particular ideas of gesture, the close up, and affect) and dance theory (concepts such as radical phrasing, the gestural anacrusis and somatic intelligence) and bringing these two fields into dialogue, the book argues that the combination of dance and film produces cine-choreographic practices that are specific to the dancefilm form. The book thus presents new models of cinematic movement that are both historically informed and thoroughly interdisciplinary.

Excerpt

A field of activity involving dance and the moving image, which has been referred to as videodance, screen dance, and cinedance (among other things), provided the initial inspiration for this book. I will use the term screen dance to refer to these predominantly short films and videos made by collaborative director/choreographer teams, such as director David Hinton’s work with DV8 Physical Theatre and Clara van Gool’s work with Jordi Cortès Molina, or choreographers who have also taken on the role of director as in the case of Amy Greenfield, Anna de Manincor, Philippe Decouflé, Wim Vandekeybus, and Miranda Pennell. Over the past few decades, such work has become a significant activity for major dance companies, independent choreographers, and certain film directors. It has been funded and broadcast by television stations such as the U.K.’s BBC and NPS in the Netherlands, and has caused a network of dedicated screen dance festivals to emerge across the world. Most recently, this field of activity has been expanded by artists, curators, and funding bodies, reconnecting dance with a tradition of technologically mediated performance and reception begun by Loïe Fuller and interfacing with contemporary visual arts practices in new media.

In Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image, I consider strategically selected single-screen examples from this recent body of work that has been identified, contextualized, and promoted through curated programmes and competitions, within the much broader history of screen practices, which I will call dancefilm. Dancefilm is understood as a modality that appears across various types of films including the musical and experimental shorts and is characterized by a filmic performance dominated by choreographic strategies or effects. My starting point then became specific works from across this expanded field of dancefilm that exemplify particular common approaches or themes: an interest in gesture or the close-up, in the corporeal facility of the dancing “star” or the transference of movement across people and things. Rather than plotting a comprehensive history of dancefilm or creating a canon of key works, my aim in this book is to reexamine and repropose the parameters of dancefilm through the questions raised by these specific approaches to the form. How is the concept and practice of choreography reconfigured for the screen? What filmmaking techniques are appropriate for the production of screen choreographies?

In 2002, a meeting between screen dance festival directors at Monaco Dance Forum listed twenty annual and biannual festivals dedicated to screen dance in countries as diverse as Argentina, Canada, Russia, and Australia. Monaco Dance Forum 2002 hosted the largest festival, IMZ Dance Screen. Since then new festivals have developed in countries such as Israel, Hungary, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, expanding the number of festivals to around forty.

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