There was a retrospective of my single screen video dance work as part of the Rotation 03 Festival at the Kiasma Theatre, Helsinki, in association with Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Arts and Finnish National Gallery for Modern Art.
This event recognized the achievement to date of a body of work and the evolution of a specific aesthetic and approach to making dance for the screen that has been internationally recognized. My initial impulse to make video dance came when, on graduating from the Laban Centre, London in 1988 with a degree in Dance Theatre, I felt the urge to bring dance to as wide an audience as possible.
Fifteen years later, I remain as inspired and excited by video dance as an artistic medium. I am in no way disheartened by this outcome, for what has also happened over the past 15 years is that video dance has come into its own as an art form and there are now many opportunities beyond television for this kind of work to be funded and seen.
One of the benefits of having made most of my work independently is that I have been to a great extent free to explore very particular ideas, lines of enquiry and methods of working, in collaboration with many different choreographers and dancers. From a formal point of view, I found Lucinda Childsa€™ exploration of the effect of repetition on our perception of movement intriguing. On reading about Yvonne Rainera€™s work, particularly once she had moved from dance to film-making, I related very strongly to her suggestion that we should find alternative structures than simple narrative closure, in which everything in a story ties up and makes sense by the end. After Laban, I went to art-college in Dundee to undertake a post-graduate course in Electronic Imaging.
I saw work by video artists like Bill Viola and Gary Hill, which seemed to me to also to take human movement as its subject and through it conveyed the very essence of human existence. By the time I graduated from art-college, I had made my own connections between various artistic practises and had formed a clear idea of the kind of ideas that inspired me.
The camera, and its relationship to the human body, is central to my approach to making video dance. Whatever the idea for the work, my choices about how to use the camera are strongly influenced by my belief that at the heart of video dance is the expression of human emotion. Through the use of close ups and different angles, the camera can take the viewer to places they could not usually reach.
In my experience, it is often the movement of the body parts outside the frame that creates interesting and active viewing. How the camera moves in relation to the performers is another important aspect of filming dance. However, what I have also discovered is that the carefully choreographed camera can lose out on an important element of dance: the feeling of spontaneity, the energy of the moment, which can make watching someone dance live such an exhilarating experience.
When I started out making video dance, I would storyboard everything I planned to film, designing exact shots which explored framing and camera movement in relation to the choreographed dance movement. In order to redress this, and in an attempt to retain the integrity of the dancersa€™ performance, I started to explore a more fluid approach to making video dance.
The idea of improvisation is that those working, in this case the dancers and camera operator, decide how they should move (or how they should film) in the moment. When developing a new video dance work, as the director, I set a series of improvisations with a€?rulesa€™ suggested by knowledge of the possible spatial and motional relationships between camera and dancers. Shooting on video helps this process immensely, as the performers, camera operator and director can look back at the material and together evaluate the effect of certain decisions and types of movement and how things could tried differently.
In the context of making video dance, improvisation can be a misunderstood a€“ and scary a€“ word. Whilst it may be accepted that improvisation could be a valid tool for generating ideas and developing material, when it comes to filming material that will be used in the finished video dance, it is usually thought to be wiser to set and rehearse everything before committing to tape. In a€?Pacea€™ (1996), dancer and choreographer Marisa Zanotti and I set out to explore ways of conveying energy and speed on screen.
The energy and rawness of a€?Pacea€™ comes very close to what Marisa and I had envisaged and on this basis of this experience, I have continued to use improvisation in many of the video dance works that I have directed. For example, in one sequence around two minutes into a€?Pacea€™, the camera moves with the dancer, following a triangular floor pattern through the studio.
Beyond the new technology and the creative opportunities it offered, a€?Pacea€™ was also the first time that I worked with visual artist and editor Simon Fildes. Each of the twenty or so video dance works that I have directed have been very different in terms of their starting point, who I have been collaborating with and the context in which they were made. At some level, all explore a€?perceptiona€™ and the idea that our understanding and interpretation of an action, relationship or moment in time depends on our point of view and the information we are given. Around three or four years ago, I became particularly interested in developing this idea of how different levels and types of perception, both visual and aural, effect the way in which we understand a situation.
In the process of my research, I came across an English company, Touchdown Dance, who work with dancers with visual impairment in the Contact Improvisation form.
In a€?Sense-8a€™, the challenge we set ourselves was to take the viewer in deeper and deeper into the performersa€™ experience.
Perception is also a strong theme in a€?The Trutha€™, which takes as its starting point the widespread use of CCTV or surveillance images by the media and how these are exploited to develop speculative narratives around certain high profile events.
Together we - Kate, Karin, Simon & Katrina - came up with the concept for a€?The Trutha€™. So we approached the choreographers a€“ Fin Walker (UK) and Paulo Ribeiro (Portugal) - to create the movement for us.
So, although I did come into the studio as the choreographers were creating the movement and look at the movement though the lens, I did not start to make decisions about how the movement would be framed until the choreography was completed. The third element of material that runs through a€?The Trutha€™ is the surveillance-style images, set on the concourse of a station. Just as the concept of the film is that the truth can look different depending on your point of view, so the camera and editing offer many different points of view on the same moments.
Whilst sharing certain stylistic approaches and techniques with the video dance work, the documentaries a€?Adugnaa€™ and a€?Symphonya€™ differ significantly from the video dance work in terms of intention. The challenge in making these films was to capture the essence of the incredible work being done by Royston, his colleagues and the people they work with. Another way in which the documentaries differ from the other works is that the choreography existed in its own right and was not created specially for the camera. My ambition is to find and communicate ideas that can only be expressed through this hybrid medium and using a style and syntax that is unique to video dance. Particularly a longer work like a€?The Trutha€™ demands us to allow ourselves to experience the emotional flow of the work, to look carefully and actively and to suspend our judgement.
What I am more interested in is to take the viewer on an intense emotional journey, one that cannot necessarily be rationalised or explained away in words. I saw work by video artists like Bill Viola and Gary Hill, which seemed to me to also to take human movement as its subject and through it conveyed the very essence of human existence.A  A touring programme of German video art from the 1980a€™s particularly impressed me. How the camera moves in relation to the performers is another important aspect ofA  filming dance. To buy the DVD Five Video Dances at A?25 including postage and packing you can use the PayPal secure server by clicking here. ArcSoft Perfect365 is a free image software that helps you to make cosmetic changes in an image automatically. This free photo editing software can bring cosmetic changes to your images with just a single click. This free image retouching tool is very easy to use and comes with an attractive user interface.


GIMP Tutorialsgimp tutorialsthe gnu image manipulation program gimp is a free piece of software available for windows mac linux operating systems for tasks such photo retouching image composition image authoring. The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free piece of software available for Windows, Mac and Linux Operating systems for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Join professional 646-363 training course to learn web designing and become expert in design work using 642-515 tutorials and 642-873 design guide. Although I was keen to be a choreographer, I was reluctant to make work that, I felt then, would only be seen by other dance enthusiasts at one of the small, dedicated dance theatres in the big cities. These offered a refreshing alternative to the broadcasts of full length ballets a€?livea€™ from the stage at Covent Garden Opera House that then made up the majority of dance on UK television. What is unexpected is that, of the twenty or so video dance works that I have directed in the intervening decade and a half - and although I have directed many hours of broadcast documentary arts programmes - only one of the video dance works I have made has been commission by and seen on television. The money to make the majority of my video dance has come from both public and private commissions and the resulting works have been screened all over the world - at festivals and in cinemas, theatres and galleries. This article sets out to describe some aspects of this journey and I hope that it will provide an interesting and illuminating context for the five works a€“ three video dances and two dance documentaries a€“ that are being screened as part of the a€?Rotation 03a€™ festival in Helsinki.
Whilst at Laban, I came across the work of the post-modern dance makers, for example, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton and Yvonne Rainer. I saw a connection between Childs work and the use of repetition in the music of minimalist such as Steve Reich and Brian Eno, as well as in the dance music that I lost myself in on the dance floor at clubs at the weekend. To paraphrase Rainer, real life often does not have the comfort of closure and so maybe art should not be so tidy either?
I wanted to make dance for the screen and I realised that, in order to do so, I would need to learn about video production. These experiences where brought to bear on a series of different collaborations and creative environments.
With the camera, I try to create an energy that involves the viewer in the movement, allowing them to become an active participant in the action, rather than simply a passive observer. When I look at movement through the lens, I try to do so as though I am involved in an interaction with the person or people in front of me.
The lens can enter the dancera€™s kinesphere a€“ the personal space that moves with them as they dance a€“ framing the detail of the movement and allowing an intimacy that would be unattainable in a live performance context.
The framing I chose often focuses on a detail of movement, frustrating the audiences view of the a€?wholea€™, whilst at the same time creating dynamic and tension within the shot and forcing the viewersa€™ imagination to come into play. The choreographed camera, moving through space in relationship to the dancers, alters our perception of the dance, rendering it three-dimensional and creating a fluid and lively viewing experience. This dilemma, and the search to find a solution, has also significantly informed my approach to making video dance. However, over time, I began to feel that what was gained in carefully contrived shots was being lost by a certain lack of fluidity and immediacy in the dancersa€™ performance. Over a number of works, and in collaboration with different dancers and choreographers, I began to use structured improvisation as a creative tool. They base this decision on their experience of what they see and feel in the moment, informed to a greater or lesser extent by certain ideas, rules, restrictions or a€?scoresa€™. Through rehearsal and repetition, a vocabulary of framing and movement is built up, forming a palette of video dance material that is then a€?choreographeda€™ in the edit suite. In the process, the dancer and camera really do become dancing partners and a sense of a€?livenessa€™ is captured on tape. However, in my experience, there is a qualitative difference between the performance of video dance material that has been set exactly and that material which retains elements of improvisation. We were determined to make a video dance work a€“ in this case for broadcast on BBC television a€“ that would have the audience sitting on the edge of their seat.
Over a couple of weeks in the studio, Marisa and I developed a series of structured improvisations which were rehearsed and refined until we knew that, come the shooting days, they would generate the type of images we wanted for our video dance. It is through the juxtaposition of different shots and sounds that the work assumes its emotional impact, as characters are revealed through fragments of action and the viewer is drawn through a series of events and states.
Firstly, there is editing for the continuity of the live choreography, where the timing and structure of a work originally made for the stage is more or less maintained.
However, it was not until a€?Pacea€™, which was the first time I had the opportunity to use a non-linear digital editing system, that I was really able to push this approach to a new extreme. In the edit, we initially a€?recreateda€™ this journey by montage-ing shots from different takes of that particular improvisation.
Each time this sequence is repeated, a number of shots are dropped, until in the end it is made up of only three shots. I very quickly realised that Simona€™s input went way beyond being able to operate the editing software. However, there are certain themes that have remained constant throughout almost all of the works. They also all incorporate the fact that the interplay between vision and sound has a great impact on our perception of what is happening on the screen. I also started to think of making a video dance work which would communicate whether you could see it, hear it or see and hear it. Here, my two main areas of interesta€“ improvisation as a creative tool and visual and aural perception a€“ seemed to converge. We hear the dancers describe, to each other and the viewer, what they are seeing, as they move and as they observe. It explores the idea that the same situation can give rise to completely different interpretations, depending on point of view, perspective and other related information.
Usually, I will work with a closely with choreographer to evolve a new idea for a video dance.
Related to the idea of different interpretations of the same information that is at the core of a€?The Trutha€™, we then decided that it would add interest and intrigue to work with two choreographers, whose vocabularies and styles differ greatly, thereby giving two different versions of events in the choreography. We asked them to respond to the concept of a€?trutha€™, but we left them in the dark as regards almost every other aspect of the production a€“ location, costume, sound, filming style and soundtrack.
Usually I spend a lot of time in the studio with the dancers and choreographer, developing the camera framing and movement as the dancersa€™ movement evolves. Here we see the four characters, appearing to relate a€“ or not to relate a€“ to each other in very different ways. They challenge us to look again at the same moment a€“ or movement a€“ from a different perspective and to experience how this changes the impact of that moment and the perceived relationship between the characters. They were made as awareness and fund-raising films for Dance United, a UK-based dance development company, headed up by the visionary teacher and choreographer Royston Maldoom.
We stove to create two films that contain the factual information that needs to be imparted and whilst at the same time communicate the power and potential of dance as a means of expression and as a tool for social change. However, the approach we took to filming the choreography was to re-structure it entirely for the screen. What we are making is not a dance, nor is it a video of a dance, or even for that matter, simply a video. Because it is screen-based work a€“ and therefore by default associated with television a€“ there is the danger that the expectation is that everything should be obvious straight away and on one viewing and for there to be a sense of narrative closure. These offered a refreshing alternative to the broadcasts of full length ballets a€?livea€™ from the stage at Covent Garden Opera House that then made up the majority of dance on UK television.A  Now experienced film and television directors and choreographers were being brought together to experiment with movement, cameras and editing and the results were broadcast to audiences that, although perhaps small by prime-time television standards, were inconceivable in a live theatre context.


Here, highly textural abstract images, unidentifiable, yet obviously derived from images of human action, were edited using repetition, the sound and image interacting and building up rhythms which I found both compelling and very moving. Here, my two main areas of interesta€“ improvisation as a creative tool and visual and aural perception a€“ seemed to converge.A  Together with Touchdowna€™s director Katy Dymoke, I developed an idea which would eventually become a€?Sense-8a€™, a video dance commissioned by the Arts Council of England as part of their Capture scheme. If you want to try a new look without adding any makeup to your face, you can try Perfect 365. You will get to see some before and after images after opening this free image editing tool. This program have all the basic editing tools and effects without any specialized knowledge.
The suite tools let you upload your image to facebook or flicker or send it through e-mail. There are now many individual artists and collaborative teams who have made several video dance works and who, over time, have developed their own unique approaches to making dance for the screen. Mainly through the books of Sally Banes, and a very few video documentation of performances, I learnt about their revolutionary approaches to making dance in New York in the a€?sixties and a€?seventies. On visits to the south of Spain, I saw Moorish art that used repetition to create beauty and invoke contemplation. What I had not anticipated was that I would come across a whole different area of art a€“ video art a€“ which, in my view, shared much in common with the post-modern dance practises which had so inspired me. Whilst the initial starting point for each of the video dance works I have directed may have be different, the work shares common concerns and approaches. In the need to ensure that a pre-planned camera movement could happen or a certain light and framing came into play, fixed points in space needed to be reached by the dancers. The various sections of the finished work are based on a series of improvisations which explore different relationships between camera and dancer, and the effect of various lenses, framing choices and ways of moving camera in relation to a variety of explorations of movement ideas by the dancer. The significance of a moment, or movement, is explored as time is slowed down, stretched, speeded up, repeated or stopped by the editing. Secondly, there is the a€?montagea€™ approach, in which shots are taken from different spatial and temporal contexts and are re-ordered, breaking down completely the sequence of the live action and creating a spatial logic and rhythm unique to the video dance work.
By using the possibilities offered by this new media, I began to really explore the effect on the perception of time and movement of repeated and altered patterns of montage.
When you watch the sequence in the finished video dance, in your minda€™s eye the truncated sequence still covers the same ground as it did when it was made up of the full 12 shots and the performer seems to compete the phrase in a dramatically shorted space of time. He understood the ideas that Marisa and I had been exploring and was able to take them onto new levels through his understanding of editing. This is something that is often done when a dancer with visual impairment or who cannot see at all, is part of a group of Contact Improvisers. In the case of a€?The Trutha€™, however, it was two dancers, Kate Gowar and Karin Fisher-Potisk, the Artistic Directors of the dancer-run company Ricochet Dance Productions, who approached myself and Simon to make a new video dance work. It was very exciting for us all that these two talented choreographers embraced the challenged of this very a€?hands offa€™ collaboration with such imagination, understanding and commitment.
However, this time it felt important that the choreography should follow its own line of development and be created according to the choreographersa€™ and the dancersa€™ understanding of the characters relationships and interactions.
As video dance progresses, our perception of the relationships between these four characters and their relationship to each other is continually altered by the accumulation of information that we glean through the different scenes and interactions a€“ both a€?choreographeda€™ and a€?reala€™ a€“ that we see the characters involved in. Again, the intention was to capture the essence of the choreographed work and the impact of the dancersa€™ performance. In all the video dance that I have directed, my collaborators and I have tried to make work that, on one level, demands analysis and thought, and on the other, can be enjoyed on an impressionistic or experiential level. As a young dance-maker, I saw many of these short a€?video dancea€™ works and was inspired and excited by the potential I could see in this new, hybrid medium. This freeware can detect faces automatically and allows you to make cosmetic changes in those images.
If you have any question or comment, feel free to share your thoughts on the article in the comments section! You can easily edit digital photos and other pictures with multiple types of image formats. Moreover, whilst when I started out, I was amongst the first of the so-called a€?hybrida€™ video dance artists, having trained in both dance and the moving image, now in the UK and elsewhere, many undergraduate dance courses offer video dance as an area of both practical and academic study. I was intrigued by the post-modernsa€™ perception of movement as interesting in itself and not necessarily representing anything other than itself and by their presentation of so-called a€?pedestrian movementa€™ as dance. The result often seemed to be that the dancersa€™ movement, and therefore performance, was impeded. For those coming from a narrative film background, where the convention is to work from a pre-written script, improvisation can seem an alien concept, although similar practises have been used by many well-known film-makers. In other cases, such as a€?Pacea€™ and a€?Sense-8a€™, all the material that was used in the final edit was generated through structured improvisation. The narratives that emerge tend to be subtle and intriguing, suggested rather than explained, impressionistic rather than literal. The effect is that the speed of the solo dancera€™s movement seems to increase dramatically as the space closes in. At other times, we catch a€?birda€™s eyea€™ glimpses of the scene from a surveillance-style camera position.
It highlights the fact that we all a€?seea€™ things differently and how our descriptions of what we are seeing and hearing a€“ what we pick up on - reveal a great deal about our perception of our environment. I hoped this would give the dancersa€™ performance an integrity of its own and help to produce a tension between their action and how the viewer then experiences this through the way the camera and the editing interprets and alters the action. You can digitally retouch your photos using this freeware like you see the portraits printed in magazines and newspapers. This maturing and widening out of video dance means that it has reached the stage where the discussion of the nature of the art form and the support of its continued development can, and must, include very different ways of working, styles of delivery and artistic intentions. I was also struck by their break away from the conventional theatre setting for dance performances.
Dance makers are probably more familiar with the idea of working with improvisation, both as a means of generating material which will then be choreographed and as performance material in its own right. The drama of the chase is then relieved by the gradual introduction of new material, with a very different texture, shape and inherent rhythm. As the video dance progresses, the camera is drawn closer into the action, until as the viewer you feel as though you too are part of the Contact Improvisation jam.
In the edit for a€?Sense-8a€™, we brought all these elements together, adding layers of sound to the montaged visual material to create one fluid, multi-perspective experience of the dance. Once you are done retouching your image, you can save it on your PC or share it with your friends on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter directly from this freeware. Photopad Image editor removed red eye and blemishes and impore image quality and focus with blur, sharpening and noise reduction tools.



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