I am sitting in a real French cafe, aptly named La Belle Epoque, on the market square of Le Creusot, Bourgogne. Yesterday I gave a paper at the conference of the Festival International de Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne, both directed by Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulègue. The conference attracted a very international group of artists and researchers, many of which are students writing dissertations about Screendance.
This is a curious time for screendance; while there are much fewer festivals and opportunities to see work due to widespread funding cuts, there is definitely a growing number of scholarly enquiries about the history and specificities of the practice. The whole field is run, internationally, on a shoe string and without the support of major institutions, also here in Le Creusot. Is this a weakness, or perhaps a strength? It is still unpredictable as to how the field will develop, but it is interesting to see that the interest in the creative possibility of working across dance and screen continues to gather interest across the globe.
This was the first time that Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulègue ran a conference alongside their festival, which is five years old, and there was a broad range of themes, some offering serious scholarship. The papers will be published by Cambridge Scholars Press in a collection of bilingual screendance texts, edited by Marisa C. Hayes and Franck Boulègue. This will be very useful to develop the level of debate in France, which appears to be curiously slow in recognising the possibilities of screendance, given its extensive histories in both cinema and dance.
For further information and to keep track of their debates: http://bodycinema.blog.lemonde.fr/