Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dance Film Festival UK 2015 brings another prominent installation of ‘visual beauty’

Dance Film Festival UK provides a much-needed opportunity for dance film artists to engage with new audiences, access professional development opportunities, and to network with other artists. With a complete focus on screendance, Dance Film Festival UK allows artists and spectators alike to immerse in dance film.

The festival day opened with Katie Johnston’s flipbook animation workshop. Specially tailored for dance artists, the workshop explored techniques to capture dance movement in drawing. Meanwhile, throughout the day the audience were invited to leave the buzz of the festival and enter Private Cinema Installations. Behind the velvety red curtains of the cinema booths, the viewer found an eclectic collection of short dance films.

The main festival screenings presented a diverse selection of documentaries. The films documented mature dance company Three Score’s performance at Brighton Rail Station; an exchange of dance between children in Hackney and New Orleans; a moving tale between a Mexican and a Taiwanese dancer; and the dedication and devotion of three prominent Hip Hop dancers. While the emphasis was still on dance, the documentaries provided a revealing insight into the lives and struggles of the artists.

The following three programmes proved to be an extremely vibrant mix of dance films. While some films experimented purely with the relationship between movement and camera, others, like Antoine Marc & Drew Cox’s Descent and Shireen Talhouni & Ali Al-Saadi’s Sarmad, provided moments of stunning visual beauty. Other dance films dealt honestly with issues of womanhood, disability, sexual empowerment, control and cultural tradition. Overall, a hugely exciting and international mixture of dance films.

The festival day closed with commissioned dance works from innovative London based Protocol Dance Company, and unique video and animation team Garrett and Garrett Videography. Lastly, an on-the-day collaboration and screening of work by Mina Aidoo and Brian Gillespie revealed just how accessible dance film can be.

As well as making screendance highly accessible to viewers, Dance Film Festival UK fosters curiosity and inquisitiveness. The festival truly is an invaluable platform to inspire, engage and most importantly, excite artists about dance film.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

DFFUK: REVIEW: Living With Sin

Living With Sin – Lizzie J Klotz & Lucia Schweigert
Dance Film Festival UK
O2 Think Big Hub
Saturday 8th August 2015

Living With Sin appears at first as an intimate encounter; the camera focuses intrusively on a woman’s skin, her hair, her shoulders, her face; revealing dustings of gold glitter. But as the work progresses, Lizzie J Klotz and Lucia Schweigert’s discussion of the Christian doctrine of original sin becomes clear.

Dancer Jonna Tideman’s crimson jumper layered over a red dress is striking in front of a bleak stone landscape. The colours seem to connote anger, frustration, guilt, despair, and above all, sin. All of which are easy to identify. Quick, flashing images of Tideman’s face, twisted with pain, fractures the scene- as she sits seemingly serene on stone steps.

Later, Tideman is seen dancing in long black robes, again filmed against a stark concrete landscape. She is positioned off-centre, often disappearing out of the frame all together. In fact, the colours, unconventional positioning and the disjointed sound of mbira cycles (African thumb piano) all seem to hint at the fragmentation of womanhood.

Indeed, the simultaneously introspective and frantic tone of Klotz and Schweigert’s work unites all experiences in one woman.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

DFFUK: REVIEW: Vice Versa, an exchange of dance, through the eyes of children

Vice Versa – Hattie Worboys
Dance Film Festival UK
O2 Think Big Hub
Saturday 8th August

Director, Hattie Worboy’s Vice Versa is an exciting exchange of dance, culture and heritage across the Atlantic between two groups of children- one from New Orleans and one from Hackney. The film displays a colourful comparison of life through the sincere eyes of children, who all have one thing in common- dancing.

While New Orleans appears vibrant, with the bright colours of carnival and warm sun, Hackney appears grey, fast-paced and distinctly urban. London music producer Miles Romans Hopcroft’s (aka WU LU) choice of UK Garage, House and Dubstep reflects the familiar images of concrete and rain.

Contrastingly, the Dixieland Jazz sounds of carnival reveal New Orleans’s rich street dance culture. The bright sunshine, vibrant colour and cheerful sound of trombones and trumpets create a stark contrast to Worboy’s representation of Hackney. The children shuffle, shake and jump in matching outfits in their respective towns.

While there are big differences in the mood and tone of the two cities, and in the children’s dance styles, both groups explore their identities through the freedom of expression. Finally, it seems that while the children are thousands of miles apart, the vitality and energy of their dances crosses the physical and emotional distance between them.

DFFUK: REVIEW: Descent: The Essence of Life and Death

Descent – Drew Cox & Antoine Marc
Dance Film Festival UK
O2 Think Big Hub
Saturday 8th August 2015

Thick honey oozes from a man’s mouth, as he begins his gradual descent from life to death. Directors, Drew Cox and Antoine Marc explore themes of terminal illness and family support, which eases the torment of illness.  Overall, Descent is a dazzling work of both choreography and screendance.

Filmed in the iconic room of the feature film The King’s Speech (2010), Cox and Marc’s images are visually stunning. Descent is washed with shades of mustard and teal, which peal off the walls behind the dancers. The thick honey, seeping from the man’s mouth, seems to symbolise the loss of life, but also reveals the essence of life.

Moreover, shot in slow motion, the film captures the dancers in powerful, gravity-defying moments. They propel themselves into the air, displaying their rippling muscles and profound strength. Three men leap, cartwheeling their legs over their heads. Meanwhile a woman performs a moving solo, consuming the space, as she lunges, ripples and then hurls herself through the music.

Sumptuous floorwork and rich shifts of weight are as indulgent as the honey that continues to ooze from the man’s lips. With an emphasis on power and beauty, Marc’s choreography appears at once delicious and compelling.