When one hears the word innovation, what comes to mind? Something technologically savvy? Cutting-edge? Each industry has its share of innovative ideas and works. In relation to the dance world, what is considered innovative? There are revolutionary choreography, dance techniques, products, approaches to movement, and endless other examples. More specifically, it is undeniable that digital film is a major contributor to the avant-garde advances in the dance industry, and most importantly, for the birth of dance on camera. The collaboration of dance and film has changed the dance industry for years to come, and such hybrid art form has taken the language of movement to a heightened, innovative level.
Ever since the inception of photography and motion studies, performances have been staged for the camera, however, the revolution of dance on film became more known after the explosion of the digital revolution. Film has been used for quite some time in the dance world, especially as a way of preserving original choreography and the history of dance (Fenner & Harris, 1995). It allows for a performance to be captured if one is not able to experience it live, and brings the arts directly to one’s digital playing device. The digital revolution has allowed for dance choreography to be captured like never before through a video lens, and the overall art form of dance on camera. This practice evokes certain emotions and communicate specific ideas to an audience that cannot be portrayed as effectively live, but through a movie inspired documentation of dance. Not only this, there is the flexibility for one person to be the choreographer, director, videographer, and editor of a dance film project, which is an asset for the entrepreneurial artist (McPherson).
Dance on film is so revolutionary not only because of how it changes the face of videography, but the traditional dance experience as well. The dancer(s) is/are no longer the stars-the camera is the main performer and the process of editing is the choreography. There is an increased intimacy from an audience member perspective, due to the fact that dance movement is not watched from an auditorium seat but is easily seen through the perspective of the frame. Dancers involved in a dance camera project no longer have to perform the dance from beginning to end, but have the option of choreographing for the camera how they desire, and allowing the editing process to complete the choreographic process. It is more common for dancers to perform choreography in repeated chunks. When editing, the relationship between sound and image is crucial, as well as creating flow, creating a variety of paces, and ultimately creating a story (McPherson, 2006).
It is intriguing to think about how dance on camera will continually evolve in the future. Will the incorporation of film and dance seep into other areas of the dance industry, such as in a classroom setting? Only time will tell. If you’re interested in looking more into what the art form of dance film looks like, as well as a timeline of dance on film, check out the Dance Films Association official site at http://dancefilms.org.
McPherson, K. (2006). Making Video dance: a step-by-step guide to creating dance for the screen. New York, New York: Routledge.
Fenner, D.& Harris, K. (1995). Video-preservation of dance. Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 69-78. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3333518.