Screendance in review

This Sunday and Monday saw the beginning of the University of Utah’s Ninth Annual International Screendance Festival. Sunday’s screening was a juried program of student  work from the US, the UK, South Africa and Rwanda. Last night’s was the collaborative work of real life partners Simon Fildes and Katrina McPherson. (You might remember her from her visit and workshop in 2011). We were treated to the world premiere of their new film the time it takes, a choreo-cinematic exploration of the Isle of South Uist, a strikingly wet landscape in the Outer Hebrides.

Ellen Bromberg, who directs the festival and the University’s screendance program, put it best as she was introducing Fildes, who’s teaching a workshop on editing. She suggested that the sense of immediacy which is usually the first thing lost in the transfer from live dance to the camera, is exactly what Fildes lends McPherson’s dancerly intelligence through his editing expertise. Their work also has a nuanced relation to environment from which Utah artists could learn a lot, despite the fact that lush Scotland couldn’t look any more different that the San Rafael Swell or the Salt Flats. They have clearly given a lot of thought to the politics of what it means to settle in a compelling location and to use it as the canvas for a body of work.

Sense of place was also crucial to many of the student works on Sunday. Abandon, by Virginia Commonwealth choreographer Charli Brissey was a droll structuralist experiment revealing as much about the quietly charged landscape of a Richmond neighborhood as it did about the woman who calmly walked toward the camera as it receded through the duration of the work. Haildance, by University of Oregon students Molly Everts and Robert Uehlin, rendered a similar formal brilliance out of a home movie of esctatic choroegraphic spontenaity in a suburban hailstorm played backward then forward. Vulnerability, directed by Ndoli Kayiranga Ezechiel and co-produced by the Kwetu Film Institute, won the small cash prize and deservedly so. This incredible film said more in it’s ninety seconds than most screendances manage in fifteen or twenty minutes. It owed much to the performance of Eugene Dushime, whose nervous energy lent the film’s depiction of Kigali, Rwanda; a striking claustrophobia.



Local choreographers/recent grads also made a strong showing. Wyn Pottratz’s Antarctica and Scotty Hardwig’s we walk blood earth explored Utah landscapes and Rachael L. Shaw’s Symbiosis depicted a handsome young couple sizing each other up in a rainy out-of-focus half-sleep in the sculpture next to Capitol Theater downtown. In the lobby before the show, other films were projected on the ground and on the walls, including Tanja London’s Imprint, which featured Katherine Adler and Amy Falls finding their cool in the woods. London and fellow student Claire Bagley should be commended for their hard work in helping Bromberg put all of this on.

This Friday, Fildes has curated an evening of notable screendances from Europe and Australia. It’s at the Post Theater at 7:30 and costs seven dollars, cash only. He’s also showing an installation, Crux, which deals with rock climbing and Laban notation. It’s on display at the Marriot Library on the first floor for the duration of the week. Both will be worth seeing.

Samuel Hanson makes dances, videos and coffees. He often writes for loveDANCEmore.