Below find a review of a dance film festival brought straight to computer by Samuel Bennett Hanson. While the nature of an online festival bridges the gap between the Wasatch Front and other dance communities, it’s nice to know the festival carries a lot of connections to artists based in, or recently brought to, Salt Lake City. After checking it out consider looking at what else is up in Utah, including a casting for RDT’s LINK series presentation by Graham Brown and aMovement Forum fundraiser.
Dance’s Made to Order is an online magazine– every month it brings subscribers three new dance films. As a frequent viewer and one-time artist (March 2012 edition!), I can broadly endorse their work. Some of the films are quite good, and it’s a great way to see diverse perspectives in dance from all over the country and beyond.
Immersion in the outside world was precisely what I sought and received in watching their latest effort. Dances Made’s annual En Route Dance Festival, which ended this Sunday, is part of a growing trend in stage choreography and screen dance: temporary online exhibition (another recent example). The only piece I’d seen before was Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson’s The Time it Takes, an homage to lush, wet Scottish landscape that screened in conjunction with the couples’s’ visit to the University of Utah earlier this year.
I found myself comparing McPherson’s work to Axolotl Collective’s Panspermia, a sci-fi work where “two aliens perpetuate a cosmic lineage”. The locations chosen for Panspermia were likely in the Mexican state of Puebla, where the Collective is based, but wherever they shot reminds me of desert lake beds of my own experience in the Western United States. It feels appropriate that aliens would do business here and that they would look at turns like orphans of the sea and animated plastic refuse. The excellent performances here remind one of the best of Alwin Nikolais’ work, though here the abstraction of the body seems less about erasure and more about the playful questions about ourselves we have always asked through imaginary animals and extraterrestrials.
A much more approachable effort, Turn Around Tango comes from Canada. There’s not much to say save that a tango performed back to back is much more fascinating than it sounds. This filmmaker has all the stylish dance-in-a-void bravado of Edouard Lock, without being so heavy handed. It’s left to Pas, a brief farce on the use of French nomenclature in ballet to further critique the supercilious. Courtney Harris and Charli Brissey make fun of classical dance in a way that only those versed in it could.
The festival also featured some work where the connection to dance was a little more obtuse. British choreographer Siobhan Davies and David Hinton brought All This Can Happen, a structuralist feature which juxtaposed creatively reframed found footage with excerpts from “The Walk”. The text, a novella by Swiss writer Robert Walser, deals with the raptures and horrors of every day life as an artist. It’s great that work like this is being reframed in a dance context, and I hope lots of people see it in this way, which beautifully demonstrates the simple choreography of the cut– the beginning and ending of a movement taken out of context becoming the way we construct the unitary power of “a singular move(ment)”.
Also very strong was Melting Justice, which was described in the program notes as “a film from the Democratic Republic of Congo…a mediation on agency vs. voyeurism that simultaneously captures instances of embodied critique while confronting the viewer with challenging questions about the passive consumption…” Petna Ndaliko Katondolo’s work was nothing like it’s art-speak byline, but his work is worth researching–– here is an artist who uses the conventions of documentary film in the age of the video to make an audience feel physically implicated as we watch (among other things) a man literally dance through oblivious traffic.
Samuel Hanson contributes regularly to loveDANCEmore and SLUG mag