Monday, February 07, 2011

What I Watched Instead of the Superbowl: Video Dance

I love watching dance, which often means watching it live on stage. Video dance, which is dance made for the camera, is relatively rare, but, I believe, a better medium for dance.

Dance performances typically occur on stage with a live audience. Sometimes these performances are documented on video or film. This is not what I'm talking about.

Video dance is dance made for the camera. It's not just a long-shot of a stage. I think video dance is a better medium for dance for two reasons:


  1.  Dance is tiring, and this places major constraints on what can be done on stage, unlike traditional theatre, because saying lines is not exhausting. Film is better for dance for the same reason film is better for martial arts.
  2.  Choreographed dance requires an enormous amount of rehearsal and effort. There should be more payoff than a few performances. Film can last forever.


It's difficult to describe the concept of video dance to people-- even dancers. They bring up movies like The Company,  or the recent The Black Swan, which are not a dance movies, but normal movies about dance. Most video dances that are made are music videos, and occasionally musicals that are made info films, such as West Side Story.

Last night my wife and I had dancer Natasha Royka over for dinner and to watch some video dance. We watched Lodela. You can see it here (24 minutes):




Even if you only watch the first minute or so, you will see how different it is from documenting staged dance. The camera is placed on the head, the camera is put upside down, there are close-ups of eyelids. This stuff you can't do on stage. You can try to get the same feeling by doing other things, but you can't do them like this.  It's beautiful. A part of me would love to make video dance.

We also watched this Pas de Deux: http://www.nfb.ca/film/pas_de_deux_en/
Which uses a film technique, but you will note that it is basically documentation: One point of view, the dancers' full bodies are visible for almost all of it.

We also watched some popular dance that I'm a fan of:

Les Twins:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC3iK_sTUjs
We No Speak Americano:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iANRO3I30nM

Saturday we had a much worse dance experience.
We went to see Savion Glover.

Here is a two-minute clip of the kind of stuff Savion Glover does (not from the show I saw, but you'd never know the difference):



Impressive, right? Well, picture that lasting a hour and a half. He has no stage presence, he rarely even looked up, his hands did basically nothing. He was poorly lit, and wore black on a black background. It was a very boring show.

I complained to Natasha, who recommended the Nicholas Brothers. This clip blew me away. This is what I want to see in tap dancing (3 minutes):



Showmanship!

I feel a little bad about dissing Glover, but for the opportunity cost. When I think of all the talent in the world, who was the NAC not showing because they had him?

If you are interested in dance or pilates in Ottawa, check out the Natasha Royka Movement Studio.

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