Tag Archives: choreography

CHOREOCINEMA, Jan 2017 at the Barbican

Choreocinema: Counterpoints (15*) + ScreenTalk with Siobhan Davies & Miranda Pennell

Hosted by Claudia Kappenberg

24 January 2017 / 18:30
Cinema 3

Siobhan Davies and Miranda Pennell are both artists trained in dance who apply choreography to film. This evening they will present a selection of films and converse about the exploration of movement and stasis in their work.

The programme includes:

You Made Me Love You (
UK 2005) Dir Miranda Pennell 4 min

Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed (
UK 2010) Dir Miranda Pennell 28 min

The Running Tongue (UK 2015) Dir Siobhan Davies and David Hinton 30 min

Extract from All This Can Happen (UK 2012) Dir Siobhan Davies and David Hinton 50 min

This event is part of:

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2nd Edition of Light Moves Festival

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Some thoughts on the Light Moves Festival, by Claudia Kappenberg

Last week I spend three days at Light Moves, in Limerick (Ireland). The festival offered a rich combination of screenings, symposium, installed works and talks by seasoned artists whose practices ask profound questions as to who we are and how we relate to the world around us.

Performance artist Nigel Rolfe shared images of an extensive body of work, including a couple of works on video, in which a lone figure exposes itself to the elements. Nigel Rolfe at a screendance festival? This might seem like a stretch to some, but I think it is only a sign of our times and of what there is to come. The screen is becoming ever more ubiquitous, and more and more artists are embracing it as a means to make work and to visit/ revisit their material and ideas.

Rolfe undertakes durational, often daylong interventions and condenses these into 2min long videos, giving as much as glimpses of the work through one slow pan. As a member of Black Market International he is one of a group of artists who have been challenging the cultural and cultivated self by asserting their physical material presence, through durational performances in both urban environments and in the landscape. It is a practice of surrender it seems, to time, weight, and whatever conditions one might find oneself in. Sometimes an audience witnesses this work, sometimes Rolfe has no one for company.

In the everyday our bodies tend to be a kind of background at the service of the mind, and inversions of this constellation tend to be painful and unwelcomed. Watching a performance which challenges this order of things, and even witnessing the process on film can be quite unsettling. So why does Nigel Rolfe go to such extremes, expose himself, at times even endangering his life? The work makes me think of ancient sacrificial rites and lone wolf adventures, of existential feats and extreme sports. However, the work also has a strong aesthetic and performances give rise to striking and beautiful images. Performances can look like paintings made from body, earth and sky, not unlike the Romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and his contemporaries. Surrender of Self in the search of the sublime perhaps? This work is as much part of our cultural traditions as it is on its margins, and perhaps this paradox is what makes it so intriguing.

As part of an exchange with the Australian multi-arts centre Carriageworks, the festival also included an exhibition of several works that form part of 24 Frames Per Second, a set of 24 new commisions for screen-based work at the intersection of film, dance and the visual arts. One of the works presented at Light Moves was Running Tongue (2015), the latest cinematic collaboration between choreographer Siobhan Davies and filmmaker David Hinton. The work and its creative process was discussed at a conversation between the curators Mary Wycherley and Jürgen Simpson with Sue Davies. Peeling back the layers that led to this composition, Davies described the brief for the 22 independent dance artists who were invited to make a few seconds each. Key to the composition was a selection of 250 proverbs that Davies and Hinton selected from across the world and which delineate and define woman in one way or another. The invited artists were also given a folder with the visual material and painting references, and they were asked to make a composition within a still image that included a freeze frame of a female, naked runner in profile. This female runner was also the link between the different scenes, running through psychedelic cut-out forests and pausing briefly in each of the scenes. The individual scenarios had to be composed as a photographic collage, all the imagery had to be set in London, and movement was considered a luxury. The resulting work is a highly surface-conscious, digital tapestry of textures, colours and shapes, a series of tableaus with strange and unpredictable constellations. Furthermore the whole thing is not a fixed sequence but digitally randomised. No two screenings will ever be the same.

While the tableaus tend to have a narrative feel, there is little actual story telling and the fragmented nature of the work is somewhat unsettling. Yes there is the lone runner travellling from scene to scene but her solitude is not mitigated. Things happen to her she does not react or interact. Her big stride is beautiful and energetic, but the ongoing, neverending cycle turns it into a relentless and somewhat exhausting activity. One could read the work as a portrait of a generation, in which thoughtfulness and tenderness alternate with sudden spouts of violence. Against the backdrop of the recent, seemingly random attacks in Paris, Germany and Tunesia, and the sudden flare-up between Russia and Turkey, this seems all too real.

The choreographed randomness was already present in All This Can Happen, the previous collaboration between Davies and Hinton and another kaleidoscopic composition of cultural life forms and their multiples. All this can happen, say the films, and all this takes place on screen. Maya Deren argued that film was the defining medium of the 20th century. In the 21st century any differences between the screen and the everyday are melting away.

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Wall Dancing (Rebecca Skelton, 1993)

Wall Dancing (1993) is one of a handful of videos by the late Rebecca Skelton. Sound by Andrew Deakin.

Andrew Deakin is working on gathering her work so eventually we will have more of this online and accessible.

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Dance Hack #2

Dance HackIMG_4649DanceHackIMG_4647Dance Hack IMG_4566IMG_4650

This weekend The University of Brighton hosted a second Dance Hack. As last year’s Dance Hack #1 this was organised in partnership with Li   z Mischler from South East Dance and part of Brighton Digital. In difference to last year’s open approach we invited technologists and choreographers to submit seed ideas before hand and selected a few of those. We also invited students form the BA Performance and Visual Arts to join as observer-participants and formed a mixed group of 22 people. Given we had the large Sallis Benney Theatre at at disposal this was a good size group and gave enough space to play for the five clusters that formed in the course of the two days. We used the Friday afternoon to meet and great and to begin to brainstorm ideas and find common ground while the Saturday was used to work, play, explore and test visual, kinetic and technical possibilities. It was noticeable how highly skilled and knowledgeable everyone was, bringing bespoke interactive programmes and refined choreographic toolkits as well as being curious and generous. There was a lot of show and tell as well as new collaborations, and the Hack allowed for people to meet face to face who otherwise only know each other through the web. Even in the digital domain it seems useful to occasionally be in the same room.

It was interesting for me to catch up with this digital avant-garde and to realise how complex and subtle current interfaces and interactions are. Robin McNicolas from Marshmallow Laser Feast introduced us to faceshift for example, a face-mapping software which allows people control pretty much everything in a digital environment through facial muscles and head movements. Marshmallow Laser Feast’s collaboration with the Alexander Whitely Dance Company also premiered at the Old Market on Friday night and was a fine examples of a dialogue between bodies and light and playful choreographic spatial design. Alexander Whitley also joined the Dance Hack and explored looping and repetition of movement on screen to great effect. As technologies are becoming more responsive the dialogues between live bodies and their mediated and projected counterparts are becoming more interesting and complex; for example, a ‘simple’ gesture performed by Alexander became something else all together when repeated, multiplied and looped on screen – or at least the two elements play with our perception in a way that we read and associate very different things.

It also struck me how ‘real’ an experience of virtual space can be, particularly if our own movements are translated into the virtual space and technologies therefore make us believe that we have actually been ‘there’. Extraordinary that we cannot distinguish between mediated, virtual space and actual space, and that we form memories in similar ways. So yes, the potential of what all this can add to our experiences is huge.

Liz Mischler and I are curious to see what will come from these encounters and what else might sprout in the coming days and weeks. We will meanwhile go away and think where we go from here, and what a Dance Hack #3 might look like.

For a brief summery see live stream

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