Rolling Frames: Poetry & Dance

Further exploring the trend in dance films mentioned in last week’s ScreenDance Diaries selection Shunpo, this week we look at another lovely short that once again features continuous movement while expertly cutting between three locations. Instead of one dancer, Rolling Frames features three couples performing a single and continuous piece of choreography that takes place against the audio backdrop of a piece of poetry. The three couples—one in a narrow walkway between buildings, two in more pastoral settings—all perform choreography that elaborates metaphorically through movement on the words of the poem. We listen as the voice over switches from a male to female narrator. Each recites the poem’s words and phrases using little melodrama or emotion, leaving the movement itself to suggest that. The poem explores the challenges inherent in relationships – their proximities, distances, and both the fear and joys of being lost in someone.

A moment in
A moment in “Rolling Frames”

While I am usually not a fan of dance films that employ the use of any kind of voiceover, this short works surprisingly well. The editing between couples and the capturing of the movement is precise and beautiful, and towards the end of the film it takes on an almost rhythmic pace. The cinematography and color is rich and lush, and I like the way the camera seamlessly provides varying points of view while also traversing continuously between both subjects and locations. The poem itself – both in the reading and in the writing – is surprisingly un-pretentious and honest, which I love, and allows ample space for the movement to augment it and vice versa. While one of the locations is less successful to me than the other two, in part because the dancers are nearly silhouetted against the sun, over all Rolling Frames left me moved. The ending is abrupt and subtle, and as a result I felt a bit stunned, as if I was standing on a ledge and suddenly looked down and saw the drop.  I was also duly impressed when I showed it to a group of students at Relativity Media School where I was teaching Dance on Film. While not always easily moved and certainly inundated by media, they all loved it.

A couple dance their codependency in
A couple dance their codependency in “Rolling Frames”

An English film, Rolling Frames is a product of the inaugural 2014 Shot Through the Heart Poetry Film competition at Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love, in which poets and filmmakers were asked to “create poetry films that explore the joy of first love, the pain of lost love, the confusion of displaced love, the purity of platonic love, or any other kind of love.” It features choreography by Anna-Lise Marie Hearn, Direction by Katie Garrett, and dance by Laura Boulter, KJ Clarke-Davis, Lydia Costello, Jennifer Jones, Nathalia Lilehagen, and Ella Mackinder.



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