Screen adapters: DV8 & Ultima Vez

There are many approaches to making videodances, but one of my favorites is the adaptation of live performances for the screen. There are a few choreographers that have adopted this approach with gusto, and have made some of the best dance films of recent times. Lloyd Newson of DV8 is perhaps the best known of these. DV8 is one of the few dance companies that is committed to both dance and video and the interconnection of the two as part of it’s core mission.

The Cost of Living

Still: The Cost of Living by DV8

From DV8’s Artistic Policy:

 DV8 (Dance and Video 8)’s strong commitment to film and video continues. This reflects its ongoing interest in how two primarily visual media can enhance one another and reach a crossover audience from within both forms.

To date DV8 has produced 15 stage works and 5 films, all of which are
visually arresting, provocative, and moving explorations of the human
condition. Their second and third films Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men and Strange Fish
were collaborations between director David Hinton and choreographer
Lloyd Newson. Both pieces are quite dark and disturbing, and you can
see vestiges of the stage work in the sets and choreography, however
it’s interesting to see Newson’s development as a choreographer for the
camera’s frame in these early works. In their fourth film Enter Achilles Newson teamed up with the Dutch director Clara van Gool. Enter Achilles
is also about the darker side of human nature, but Gool’s attention to
color and humor brings out more nuances in the characters and Newson’s
choreography is more fluid and dancy. Their most recent film, The Cost of Living (2004) was Newson’s first time as sole director, and his eye for filmmaking has become well developed. The Cost of Living
has been a tremendous cross-over success appealing to film audiences as
much as dance fans, and has achieved something of a cult status.

Another choreographer who has fully embraced filmmaking is Begium’s Vim Vandekeybus. With his company Ultima Vez
he’s made video adaptations of almost all of his live performance
works, as well as extensive video to go along with the stage
productions. His 2005 film Blush screened at the 2006 Dance on
Camera Festival 4 years after the stage show toured the New York area
at Montclair State University. Blush is like a rock ‘n’ roll
acid trip. I loved the audacity of the work and its incredible settings
shot in Corsica and Brussels. It runs the gamut of human emotion and
definitely shows that videodance can rock hard.

During the 2006 Dance on Camera Festival I recorded this interview with Bart van Langendonck the producer of Blush about the film and the challenges of making it.

I’d love to see more American contemporary choreographers making edgy, cool film adaptations of their work. I think films like Blush and The Cost of Living
have exponentially increased the audiences for DV8 and Ultima Vez.
Videodance gives choreographers a means of distributing their work to a
wider range of people, and breaking out of the insular ghetto of the
po-mo dance scene. Both of these choreographers have benefited from
major European television commissions for their work, which the US
doesn’t have. (Ever since PBS’ Alive from Off Center ended in
the 80’s edgy dance films haven’t had support in this country.) But,
the internet is opening up new avenues for distribution that are
accessible to anyone with a computer and a broadband connection.
Perhaps we just need to introduce Spike Jonze to Nicholas Leichter, and a fire will spark!

What would your fantasy director/choreographer match up be? I think mine would be Michel Gondry with Ohad Naharin.
This entry was posted in artists, marketing, theory/criticism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Screen adapters: DV8 & Ultima Vez

  1. Shoshana Rose says:


    As you may or may not know, I did not begin dancing until a very late age/old age! šŸ˜‰ Nonetheless, it has become my passion and mission.

    Your posts inspire greatly my muse! When I read what you’re sharing about videodance, I get excited because I have hope to use this medium in my work to spread the joy of dance throughout the world.

    I am trying to encourage the dance dept. at my Community College, to embrace youtube and videodance as not only a way to promote the dance program, but too, as a way to share their art with a greater audience.

    My suggestions have not been met with enthusiasm, but I’m not giving up hope! As I myself use videodance to promote my work as an artist, sharing my progress with them as I go, they are beginning to see the value of putting danceart on video.

    I check your blog every morning, and very much am cheering for you as you work so hard at keeping us informed on this subject.

    Thanks so much!


  2. Anna Brady Nuse says:


    Thanks so much for all your encouraging words! I am really happy to hear about your efforts to harness the capabilities of media and the internet to forward the art form of dance. There is a lot of fear and resistance to the idea of dance moving into the mediatized world, and I can understand that. Many people associate media with everything that is bad about the current age, however I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no sense fighting this beast. The media has won, we can’t further dance as an art form without addressing the most prevalent means of distributing and accessing content. Also, it’s awesome what you can do with a camera and editing that you can’t do live. It gives dance-makers yet another infinite palate with which to create. So, kudos to you for perservering in the trenches!

    With you in spirit,

  3. Interview with the producer of ‘Blush’

    This is a video interview I did with Bart van Langendonck, the producer of the Vim Vandekeybus film, Blush at the 2006 Dance On Camera Festival. It appeared in episode 5 of Move the Frame (TV show) on Manhattan Neighborhood…

  4. Trailer for ‘Blush’

    Here is a trailer for Vim Vandekeybus’ 2005 film Blush. His dance company, Ultima Vez, is based in Belgium….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s