A successful piece of dance on film demands its own kind of intimate participation and response. Unlike a live show, wherein the viewer’s experience is greatly influenced by seating proximity (as well as their mood and other ephemeral variables), with dance on film, the director, choreographer and editor control exactly what the viewer sees. Additionally — in film as opposed to live performance — the dance does not change from one screening to the next. And via the magic of post production, the viewer can experience gradations of proximity, distance, speed, point of view, gravity, and much, much more. The viewer’s experience can be manipulated to include almost anything you can imagine possible. The editing room is like Wonderland and you are Alice staring through the looking glass watching as reality is tweaked.
Likewise when I see a dance short that is simply straight forward and clean with very few to no identifiable effects, shot in black and white using rich and deliberate lighting, a great score, and movement that draws crisp lines and stark silhouettes, it can be downright delicious.
Such is the case with MOVEment’s Mangekyou, which once again I encountered originally on Nowness. Its success relies solely on everything mentioned above and perhaps especially on the (unaltered) speed and precision of the performers. Danced by a gorgeous dance duo known as AyaBambi, choreographers Ryan Heffington and Aya Sato teamed up with director Jacob Sutton and costume designer Chalayan to create this super cool, one minute short driven by an almost techno style soundtrack by Mike Q. The choreography is all arms and attitude, referencing voguing and multi-armed, East Indian deities. It’s hard to tell what the original impetus for this short was, fashion or just sheer, artsy fun, but who cares? It works so well it’s well worth watching more than once.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder/Director of Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, Sarah Elgart is a Los Angeles based choreographer and director working under the auspice of Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow. Sarah creates original content for stage, screen, and site-specific venues. Her stage and site-works have been performed at alternative spaces including LAX Airport, The Skirball Center, Mark Taper Forum, Van Nuys Flyaway, The Bradbury Building, Jacob’s Pillow, INSITU Site-Specific Festival NY, and Loft Seven, where she created a rooftop work lit entirely by a hovering helicopter accompanied by Nels Cline (Wilco). Her work has been produced by venues including The Music Center, MASS MoCA, Dance Place, Los Angeles Theater Center, Mark Taper Forum and The International Women’s Theater Festival. In film Sarah has worked with noted directors including JJ Abrams, David Lynch, Catherine Hardwicke, and Anton Corbijn. Her own films include award-winning music videos, dance shorts, and an Emmy nominated PSA, and continue to be accepted into festivals internationally. In addition to teaching dance and film, Sarah writes a regular column, ScreenDance Diaries that focuses on the intersections of both genres internationally for online magazine Cultural Weekly. Sarah’s work has received support from organizations that include the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council and more. She is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Dance Film Lab, a Fellow of AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, and a director member of the DGA.