What makes putting dance on screen exciting? I believe it’s those things that can only be seen on screen. I usually love watching documentary footage of live performances because I couldn’t be there in person, or because I can watch it over and over if I want to. But I always wish I had been there to see it live, getting drenched in the rich, multi-sensory experience of the art form, getting that sense of connection and closeness to the performers, and getting the kinetic charge of being among a live audience. Let’s face it. Watching a recording of a live performance can make it distant, two dimensional, and intellectual rather than experiential. It’s great for study, for catching what you missed, for seeing what’s going on, but I’m often left with that feeling that I missed the real party.

To me, dance on screen is a different kind of party, with a new friend invited – film. Wonderful, manipulate-able, two-dimensional, jump cutting, close-up-ing, chopping, blurring, swooping film. I think of a dance video as painting with moving images, creating a visual rhythm, and choreography with pictures. It can make choreographers and dance lovers stumble and sputter in distast. It’s not whole bodies moving in three-dimensional space, and so can sacrifice the very nature of what a dance is. But I embrace and relish the chance to manipulate, to layer, to cut and zoom, to go into space, or to inhabit an atom – in short, to create something that is not purely dance. It’s a film first, that puts dance out front.

Across the globe, there is much innovation in live dance performance, with video and other technologies, voice, props etc. expanding the tools of expression on stage. I see dance videos as a natural extension of that innovation, made by reversing the direction and taking dance into another medium. Dance on screen has been around as long as film has, but I believe the internet creates an opportunity to reach a new audience, (a big one) that will love to see more dance in short, entertaining pieces they can enjoy in their own time and share easily with friends on-line.

Michael Jackson did it. His videos are as much about dance as they are about music. I believe there is room for much, much more, and I’m excited to put more beautiful dancers on screen – chopped, zoomed, blurred or whatever else makes a dance video into its own, unique work of art.

(Image: Sarah Wilson and Nikki Trerise White in Cantaloop)

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