Here is a compilation of my work throughout Dance Film I this semester. Some of these have already been posted but they will be reposted here for a concise place for all of the work from this semester, culminating in my final project film, Unveiling, posted at the end of this post.
Firstly, I want to post my review of Dance@30FPS, a small dance film viewing of different works from across the globe.
Dance@30FPS offered an array of different approaches to how we view dance and what we perceive as “dance.” I was fully involved and taken in by each of these films as each took on and exploited a different essence of dance. From choreographically comical birds, frozen ballerinas in which the choreography was the camera, and a playful parkour puzzle that intrigued the eye, this show was the poster child for diversity. One of the most curious pieces was Well Contested Sites by Amie Dowling who found a way of illuminating the isms of cell life through movement that was set on the foreboding island of Alcatraz in the decrepit cells and broken walls of its ruins. Ultimately I voted on Jopsu Ramu’s film Me: Story of a Performance as my favorite of the show, not because there was an actual women dancing in front of the camera, although her movement was exquisite, but because through the filming, sound score, and editing I felt I was experiencing every aspect of a performance experience: the ecstasy, the submersion, the retraction, and so much more.
Dowling’s Well Contested Sites evoked so much about the emotional contingency of detention, and her filming choices have stuck with me since the show ended. The opening shot, I believe, is the back of an African American man’s bare shoulder with the stretch marks of time etched into his skin. A wider shot of his entire back, the muscles, flesh, and structure come into view and we sense the burden of past upon that shoulder as he lays out his belongings to join the line of men being dragged into the cells. The use of the cells as a form of which to explore dance and the constraints of the space was striking as well as the unison of the core of men who exhibited the strength and power they had to maintain in order to make it through their once hellish ordeal. A poignant moment I remember is that of the main dancer/inmate standing in a tower overlooking the surrounding water, yet even though all the cinderblock walls are broken down he was still trapped inside—unable to flee this experience. Evocative and artful, Dowling makes you look at the prison system in a new light.
Jopsu Ramu’s Me: Story of a Performance made movement and sound a single entity, but could have only been captured by the fearsome filming of Ramu. The stark nature of the barely off-whites, feathered blacks, and deep ocean blues supported the dancer’s harsh appearance, yet juxtaposed the fluid-like movement. Ramu successfully evoked the different feelings of each point of view of a “performance”: the shots that seemed to be of an isolated tundra with only a white ground and blue-black sky meeting at the horizon line made me feel like an audience member of the nose bleed seats, yet how I wished to never leave that seat for the solitude and grandeur of the dancer was magnified and awe-inspiring. The shots of the dancer underwater clarified this idea of complete submersion into a performance. As a dancer you lose your senses and everything is muddled for those mere minutes of performance, as it is when you sink underwater. Ramu obviously has a very clear sense of both performance and film and was able to eloquently merge the two into this wonderful film.
Throughout my Dance Film I class this semester we had smaller projects to focus on certain film editing techniques and a final film.
22 Shots: Taking a series of very small clips of movement and covering them from certain prescribed angles and facings.
Coverage and Rolling Edits: Working on covering different angles and roll editing a longer phrase with many different shots rather than just single/ one-second movements
Art Project: Taking a piece of physical Art and letting it inspire the creation of a dance film
Final Film: My culminating work in Dance Film is this film, Unveiling, which utilizes many of the techniques worked on in the previous films of this post and honing my personal aesthetic.