Dance, in its video form, comes across as tyrannical and forceful, a selective service. loveDANCEmore’s dance dance illuminates an investment that viewers make in order to experience the luster of a piece, whether they contort their own body to see it, or sit hypnotically after gleaning the last leg of the piece in order to faithfully imbibe the entire video. Dance for the camera implores us to give ourselves to its respective States, to situate us in its hierarchy.
“Blue in Tunisia/Dance in a Window,” by Andrea E. Woods, displays a woman in a white dress who dances playfully with the musical accompaniment, in a window frame. As she works within the confines of the frame, the camera-angle subtly induces me into my own verisimilar, uncomfortable confinement: I see the frame at a tilted angle where the dancer’s relationship to my sense of gravity is skewed, and I either acknowledge this discomfort, or perhaps crane my neck to comply with the screen’s logic. If I meander away from this large projector, the section in closet-like areas called “some other things” offers a chance to submit to the physical placement that each dance mandates—Adrienne Westwood’s “small films” casts me as the croucher above the stage as I peep inside a box. This microcosm ensconces two women who rearrange a table, chairs, and a rug atop pavement then switches to a clip of a woman on a hill whose skirt blows in the wind. Once I retract from the footage, I see transpositions of the furniture segment all in single instant of time in front of me in the form of five flip books that lay in front of me. I flip through each one in order to experience the dancer’s precise repetition of their rearrangement-movements; the dance’s structure tricks me into believing that I enable its five repetitions of movement to occur—yet, I only can because I’ve submitted to my role in its structure.
dance dance entertains the illusion of my privilege further: “NOBODY’S DARLING,” by Marta Renzi, depicts a man and a woman in an intimate dance with each other. Though sexually charged dance is commonplace, the setting generates a heightened sense of closeness between me and the dancers: Their sterile, rehearsal-like room simulates an actual rehearsal in a studio at which I am not present, physically. As the dancers caress each other with their movements, the woman in her sports bra, the man in his underwear, I experience the simultaneous sexual tension and comfortability that can (and often) occur between dancers who prepare for a piece, the foreplay that becomes the epilogue for a dance. In this way, the dance beckons my investment in it in the same way as pornography—I internalize its private sensuality through a conceptual, non-physical bridge. I can choose to watch, but “NOBODY’S DARLING” directs the ebbs and flow of my faculties once I do.
Karinne Keithley Syers’ piece, “Untitled (Perth Dickinson),” fabricates the fiction of soccer action figures dancing through the technique of stop action filming. The headless of the two highlights the absurdist nature of the piece, a dance of the paralyzed and the dead; it sections off a pure dancing lexicon, devoid of the act and performance of dance, yet stands, unequivocally, as dance—a poem on paper, the absolute word. Additionally, Betty Skeen perpetuates video dance’s absolutism with her piece, “Eidolon.” Although this video exhibits a real dancer, Skeen’s reversal of the dancer’s slides and rolls in a concrete skate park, in contrast to the forward motion in the piece, indicate the dance’s materialization of the impossible and its ability to dictate the fallibility of my own logic. Despite that, in historical reality, the work is comprised of different, forward-moving clips that Skeen has manufactured to move backwards, the piece nonetheless directs my viewing through and around the dimension of time. Thus, the components where the dancer’s feet lead her to slide up a cement quarter pipe momentarily jerk me to and fro in linear reality, where I am at the mercy of “Eidolon”’s world of mirrors that mandate one visual-temporal perception.
Alexander Ortega is a contributor to SLUG magazine as well as a musician about town.