I did a lot of dancing in front of the camera the past two weeks.
The project is a new screendance work by Katrina McPherson and Simon Fildes (www.go-at.co.uk) and the other two dancers were Rosalind Masson (Scottish artist based in Berlin) and Dai Jian (Chinese artist based in New York).
We talked a lot about our experiences improvising dance in front of the camera: the problems, possibilities, tensions and potentials.
Although the screendance-making process (usually) involves dancing, it seems to be fundamentally different from choreographic processes that result in a performance work. The difference might be thought of as one of separation or isolation.
As a dancer rehearsing for a staged performance you are intimately tied to the production and presentation of that work. Your presence in rehearsal, on stage, and in the creative team remains vital (even in hierarchically organised company structures) and that vitality is experienced through responsibility, time, commitment and care.
These last two weeks, I’ve danced and danced. I’ve looked for newness, welcomed my habits, and attempted to somehow tune my attention inwards whilst remaining aware of – and open to – the way the environment influenced my experience and choices. I felt responsible for my actions, and I cared about how these actions might be viewed and experienced by others (including the camera).
But, after we completed the shoot, my involvement in the project effectively stopped. In this respect, the process of dancing in a screendance project resembles more closely an actor in a film shoot than it does being a dancer in a traditional choreographic process.
We discussed the dancer’s degrees of separation from the outcome: the dancing we are doing is framed by the camera and operator; the footage is re-framed and processed by the editor; the post-produced video is framed by the screening environment, and then an audience is responsible for attending to this work.
The attention of the audience (whenever and wherever that might be) seems extraordinarily remote from the dancing work we were doing up in Scotland.