Student Blog: Dance and Video

DanceTours2With thanks to the College and the Annual Fund, I was lucky enough to visit Tours, France for a weekend in April to be part of a video-dance creation process. Having lived in Tours and worked with the choreographer of this coming creation before, the moment I sat down on the bus to Stansted Airport I knew I was in for a very different weekend.

On my arrival late on Friday afternoon, my friend and dance teacher told me about her plans: We would get up early the next morning, meet a young video artist in my friend's dance studio at the other end of town, and explore the possible relationships between video and dance - and intensively over the next two days. Our exploration was going to be the basis for a performance in June starring professional mentally disabled dancers she was choreographing. Video and dance get combined quite frequently in contemporary performances and it has always intrigued me how to position myself as a dancer towards a screen that you're sharing a stage with. I was therefore extremely keen on starting our exploration the next day.

Over the next two days, we used improvisation and group discussion to explore possible ways that dance and video can coexist, interact and resonate with each other. For example, we used movements, sounds and perspectives in the video to improvise on. We also explored the boundaries of the screen by changing its frame from the whole wall to a small rectangle, or by changing into white clothes that reflected the video to make our own bodies part of the screen. These different constellations of screen, sounds, and pictures spurned multiple ideas for movements that we combined into a montage of scenes. As a memory aid and feedback loop for ourselves, we filmed and photographed our improvisations. On the second day, we further altered the video montage by adding elements of classical music to accompany a short scene of classical dance. We also added film snippets of our movements from the day before to dance in front of our own images and double the dancers in the scene. Throughout the two days, we developed a deeper understanding of the ways that dance and video can interact in sound, image and content.

The themes we explored formed the basis for developing a performance in June that was well-received by the public and the organising charity. Beyond this practical purpose of the project, I personally have gained a much more developed understanding of how to use video and dance together. This deepened understanding has sharpened my perception of performances that I saw recently, such as a video-dance projects at the local Diamond Night in Oxford Brookes University and a projection of Pina Bausch's famous dance in front of the goldfish film in Danzon. One day, I would love to apply my ideas on dance and video in productions of my own, an idea that would have seemed much further away before this intensive weekend of exploration.

When I look back at the weekend, I remember it as a unique travel out of my usual routine into a realm of artistic curiosity and discovery, the resonations of which have stayed with me on my way back. I would like to thank Brasenose college and its alumni for providing me with the means to be part of this memorable creation process.
By Annina K. Hessel doctoral student in Education in collaboration with Experimental Psychology

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