Friday, January 9, 2009

Dance on Camera Festival

Dance on Camera Festival
New Yorkers, if you have a spare evening in the next week you should check out the Dance on Camera Festival in Lincoln Center. It’s definitely a better alternative than the nonsense in normal movie theaters right now (Marley & Me? Sad! Yes Man? Oh please…).

Yesterday I went to the Jiri Kylian and Hans Hulscher collaboration program and really enjoyed it. A woman introduced the film by noting that this particular program was not typical for the festival because it was not exactly a screen adaptation of dance and it wasn’t truly taking the field in a new direction. But it wasn’t straight performance capture either.

All four of the short clips shown were shot in some great vast space with no wings and no apparent audience. It was really like viewing dance live, in that sense. Each of the pieces were different and very intriguing in terms of choreography, but what was admirable was how the camera movement enhanced rather than deferred from the work. Close ups and zooms seemed only used where appropriate and where you knew you weren’t missing anything on the other side of the stage. It was a smooth blend of camera and dance choreography. The dancers (of Nederlands Dans Theater, mostly) were fantastic as well.

As I was watching it got me thinking about how this would be an entertaining way to expose more audiences to dance. I need to brainstorm this more but…many companies have begun to experiment with livestreaming performances online so that anyone can watch at their computer. While this is great, I know that my own personal viewing habits show that watching things online distracts me. I’d much rather see it live or, after attending yesterday’s program, on the big screen. I believe there are ways to connect online videos to your television…and I know the Metropolitan Opera does those events with movie theaters across the country to show performances on the big screen. I wonder if dance companies might be able to do the same someday? It was just so enriching to see good dance like that, and it would be a good way to spread the art to the masses.
Just rambling, but it’s something I need to think about more and organize my thoughts about.

If you’re in town, the same Jiri Kylian program repeats next Sat. Jan. 13 at 3:30pm with a panel discussion hosted by critic Robert Johnson (an editor I worked with at pointe) and ABT’s Gillian Murphy. Details here.

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