Using Choreography in Cinedance

By Dawn Paap

Given all the possibilities of dance on screen, choreographers for the camera have a multitude of ways to keep us astonished.  Fortunately, the creative interaction between film technique and dance are endless.  In the emerging field of Cinedance, filmmakers or video artists create works that use dance as raw material, and now, choreographic achievements are being made available to the video artist for artistic exploration.

At the last Kinetic Cinema screening on May 13th at Chez Bushwick, curator Victoria Murphy showed a video by Matt Tarr and Ami Ipapo entitled ‘Little Ease (Outside the Box)’ that was a screen adaptation of Elizabeth Streb’s iconic solo ‘Little Ease’. For the film version of the piece, Streb company member Ami Ipapo reconstructed the choreography off-stage in an urban landscape.  The choreography of the live piece on its own is powerful, but the film was able to capture more action and intensity in the piece. I felt more connected to the dancer by being able to hear her breathing, and see her minute facial expressions as she powerfully pushes through the movements. The film took me “inside the box” with the dancer, and I forgot that I was a voyeur watching a choreographed work, something that rarely happens when watching a live performance. My favorite element of this Cinedance was the artistry in editing together of the shots of choreography, which to me added a new specific cinematic “pulse” to Streb’s dance.

Fortunately, other dance icons are lending their choreographed works to video artists to create cinedances. For instance the Martha Graham Company recently released videos of several dances from Martha Graham’s Clytemnestra to be remashed and reedited by contestants in their Clytemnestra Remash Challenge. The contestants displayed a huge range of styles and approaches to remashing the choreographic material, and all of the contest entries are available for view on the Clytemenestra Remash Challenge website at http://clytemnestraproject.com.

I am a personal fan of taking choreographed works made for the stage out into the world to be performed, so I was very pleased to see so many  video artists take Martha Graham’s choreography and characters into new environments off stage.  To me, it made the characters more appealing and more passionate. As a result, I found myself enjoying and connecting with Graham’s work on another level.   The following submission was my personal favorite in the Remash Contest.

The winners of the Remash Contest for Martha Graham’s Clytemnestra have been announced.  Check out their videos and look at some of the other contestants as well. Voting is still open for the popular choice awards! Regardless of the winners, I am thrilled to see new film-makers responding to choreography and furthering the development of cinedance.

People all over the globe are now able to share and collaborate on artistic works over the Internet. Dance innovators would be wise to tap into these new possibilities and use today’s networked media technologies to make the works of dance masters more accessible. In so doing, like Martha Graham and Elizabeth Streb, they would ensure the cultural significance of their work over time, while also enabling to new works of art to be made and contributing to new developments in cinedance.

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