Dance, film mix as cutting-edge art

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Dance, film mix as cutting-edge art

At the forefront of modern dance is film, so it is appropriate that “Forward Motion 2004,” a celebration of 100 years of dance in Britain, ended yesterday at Seoul National University with a showing of dance films.
Jane Pritchard, an archivist with the Rambert Dance Company, describes these films as “recordings of movement specifically oriented to the camera by a director.”
Directors, or, more specifically, screen choreographers, such as David Hinton, Miranda Pennell, Nic Sandiland and Lucy Baldwin are pioneers in this field. They have recorded natural movements such as birds in flight and boys playing on the beach, then finely edited them to a choreographed dance.
Dance film is still young and developing as an art form. The London School of Contemporary Dance started a postgraduate course for dance film only last year. In Korea, a handful of people have filmed dance, but there are no screen choreographers. The interest though, does exist.
Last year, the Seoul International Dance Festival included a section on dance films. One of the organizers, Iris Woo, had seen a similar section in the Monaco Dance Forum and was excited by the possibilities.
“Live dance performances draw a niche audience. Bringing dance to film means we can deliver dance to a more diverse audience,” Ms. Woo says.
Organizers in Seoul have partnered with organizers in Monaco for the film section of the 2004 Seoul International Dance Festival, which is scheduled for October.
The JoongAng Daily spoke to Pritchard and David Steele, of the London School of Contemporary Dance, about dance films and other trends in dance.

Q. How did “Forward Motion” come about?
A. Pritchard: It came into motion at the request of an arts organization in Japan. They had invited the French and the Germans to show the history of dance, then contacted London. I helped to curate it with the person in charge of dance at the British Council. “Forward Motion” showed in Japan four years ago, and we’ve reworked it for different countries.

When you look back over the decades, what are some dance trends that come to mind?
Pritchard: The importance of [Serge] Diaghilev. He found choreographers, commissioned composers, invited painters. He was innovative. When he first came to Britain in 1911, he became a benchmark. Audiences fell in love with ballet as high art. Even now, when Rambert invites painters, it evokes the history of Diaghilev. When he died in 1929, he left a vacuum. This is the 75th anniversary of his death.
In ballet now, striking things are happening. Leading choreographers are doing new works. Major works are coming from Christopher Wheeldon, who now works mainly in America, Christopher Hampson, David Dawson, Matthew Hart and Cathy Marsden. They all came out of the Royal Ballet School, all at a time when Norman Morrice was encouraging choreographers. International repertoire has lost its individuality. That’s why it’s so exciting to see these new choreographers.
Steele: The trend of bringing in expertise from outside has started to shift, although this is a generalization. Companies are starting to think, We’ve got to create those foundations in the movement of contemporary dance. Look at Vienna; teachers were [being brought] in. Now there’s an established dance house. As they develop more educational standing, they’re able to nurture and support talent from within.

Tell me more about modern dance.
Pritchard: It’s an incredibly exciting time. In the last decade, there’s been this whole sense of video dance, for now led more by director than choreographer. In time, perhaps the two will work together. It’s pop video influenced. In Britain, it’s developed on television. Arts councils are giving independent filmmakers an opportunity to make short films, maybe five minutes, that get programmed at odd moments on TV. Suddenly, dance is being seen by huge numbers of people.

What about this new course at the London School of Contemporary Dance?
Steele: The London School of Contemporary Dance accepted four students in “Dance for Screen,” which was led by David Hinton. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to learn film techniques and be enriched with knowledge of choreography and performance.

What are the benefits of studying dance at the postgraduate level?
Steele: The power of an institute is that it can bring in the warhorses of contemporary dance, [Merce] Cunningham, Trisha Brown, creating in a way a shortcut to education, and taking students more directly. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t lose time. It’s practice as research. And you develop links within the profession.

What do you hope happens from “Forward Motion 2004”?
Steele: It would be nice to see more Korean dancers coming to Britain, not only to learn, but to share their experience and background. Such dancers, like Akram Khan, are developing new textures with their cultural diversity. They’re creating a new language with Asian and modern traditions.

by Joe Yong-hee
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