Professor Liz Aggiss (University of Brighton) introduces the genre of screen dance. Intros includes short dance films with artist interviews, including Touched by Wendy Houstoun and David Hinton, Tra La La by Magali Charrier and rarely seen gems Basini by Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie and Sardinas by Lea Anderson. In short, it is an ideal introduction to British screen dance.
Director: David Hinton
Choreographer: Wendy Houstoun
Production Company: Airtight Films
co-production An Arts Council England/BBC ; 1994
Touched is a masterful collaboration between Wendy Houstoun and David Hinton, set over the course of an evening in a bar in north London. A romance for hands, faces and the odd foot, this dance film is a choreography of close-ups. The protagonists talk, smoke, drink, dance, fight, laugh, and weep providing an anthropological romp through their personal dramas of love, lust and inebriations.
The Incomplete Autobiography
Director/Choreographer: Rajyashree Ramamurthi
A South East Danceproduction; 2004
The Incomplete Autobiography by Rajyashree Ramamurthi and Silke Manshott invites us into an intimate and idiosyncratic world of a child’s perceptions of the world around her. The film mirrors the sketchy and disjointed nature of childhood remembrances. The first person narration and sepia tinted film give a strong sense of authorship and antiquity. The animation seems to hint at a dreamy or much imagined world. Universal themes of memory and identity are explored through Ramamurthi’s personal journey back to the defining moments and essences of her childhood.
Director/Choreographer: Lea Anderson
Composer: Steve Blake
production: A LWT 1990
Sardinas is a relatively early piece from the ever ingenious mind of Lea Anderson, one of Britain’s quirkiest and most divergent choreographers and filmmakers. The audience is treated to an ever changing series of quick witted tableaux as the performers make like sky-diving sardines. The film was recorded in one shot, by a camera in a fixed frame position. The result is a film that could only exist as a film, it could not be replicated by live work. One shot, one way of viewing, completely controlled by the choreographer.
Director/Choreographer: Liz Aggiss, Billy Cowie
Producer: Liz Aggiss, Billy Cowie; 1995
Basini is a short, poignant black and white film made by Liz Aggiss and Billie Cowie. It is one of a series of films which pays homage to the work of fictional choreographer Heidi Dzinkowska. A lone, vulnerable dancer features in this authentically produced and expressionistically styled showcase. The stiff framing and dark shadows compliment the awkward, painful and rigid choreography. The melancholic music and haunting vocals conjure up a feeling of desolation and despair; and the audience is left with a feeling of bereavement from which they know not what.
Tra La La
Director: Magali Charrier
Choreographer: Viv Moore
A South East Dance and Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video co-commission for Channel 4 and Bravo Fact; 2004
Tra La La is a poetic reflection on the ephemeral nature of innocence and childhood. The film takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the politics of childhood and sibling rivalry. This fantasy black and white film uses stop frame animation and live performance. Using the childhood props of chalk drawing and a macabre collection of dismembered dolls, we are led by the three female protagonists on a journey through the lost imaginary realm of their past. The filmmaker, Magali Charrier, narrates and it is her voice that adds authenticity, charm and a fatalistic tenderness as she recounts childhood squabbles, triumphs and adventures.
Director/Choreographer: Alex Reuben
Co-choreographer: Afua Awuku
Production Company: MJW Productions Channel 4 and Arts Council England co-commission; 2003
Inspired by dancing in a Brixton club, and the dynamic paintings of Jackson Pollock, filmmaker and choreographer Alex Reuben created Line Dance. Accompanied by a fluid Samba beat, the beauty of natural human movement is extracted from the performers bodies using the technique of Motion Capture. Initially we see a series of stick men performing their moves, these are then further manipulated into more illustrative and diagrammatic shapes. What is fascinating about Line Dance is that no matter how far the image is transposed from the original human form, the organic visceral essence of the performance remains, like a ghost in the machine.
Note: there are no cowboys in Line Dance.
Director: Rachel Davies
Choreographer: Hanna Gilgren
Production Company: Spectacle Productions
A Capture commission; 2004
Gold mixes documentary style filmmaking with staged set ups, as we track two young gymnasts through their demanding training and daily lives. Filmmaker Rachel Davies cuts seamlessly between locations and events in suburban London. This film beautifully captures the determination, vitality and playful competitiveness of the two girls.
Director: David Anderson
Choreographer: Liz Aggiss, Billy Cowie
Production Company: Zed Film Company
kooprodukcja/ co-production; 2002
Take one glamorous and ageing dancer. Trap her in the real world. Smash into her private reality. Control her movement, contain her emotion. Well, you can try but she has already beaten you to it!
Motion Control is a collaboration between Liz Aggiss, Billie Cowie and David Anderson. This is a malevolent poltergeist of a film. Ostensibly a solo, this is in fact a duet between camera and dancer. The camera is a performer with needs, agility and a personality all of its own. Using point of view filming , the performer is relentlessly pursued and courted towards an operatic and gravity defying climax. With hyper-sound and super smart awareness, submit to this bizarre journey of entrapment.