Dance for camera is a curious beast from an artistic perspective. It’s a bit of a hybrid between a choreographic work and a work of cinema; it’s neither one nor the other, in many ways it is both. I’m also one of those chimeric pluridisciplinary artists who works with sound, video, movement, text, and any other materials I can get my hands on for a creative process. I enjoy creating for live performances on stages or alternative spaces, but I also love the process of screendance, but to me they feel quite distinct. There are so many assumptions that go into creating a work for stage, and there are many tried and true methods of engaging the energy of an audience within the boundaries of a traditional stage performance. The space is often, quite literally, a box. The perspective of the audience is fixed (they cannot usually, for example, see the performance from underneath). With dance for camera, all of these elements become fluid and malleable, and I can use my intuition as a dancer, director and videographer about how best to see the movement scene as it’s unfolding. Suddenly I am challenged to see dance with a cinematic eye, and I have to question not just what we are seeing, but how we are seeing it. And then there is the “where.” Filming on a site like Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park, where this work was shot, was one of the most challenging shoots I have ever done. We camped in the middle of the desert, and during the nights and days, frequent sandstorms brought blinding winds and flurries of sand rising off the dunes. We had to shield our eyes and equipment every time the wind picked up, it must’ve been 15-20 miles per hour at times. Every time we shot a scene, our footprints in the sand immediately began blowing away with the storm, erasing all trace that we were ever there. In that way, the space itself held the metaphors that would later become thematically central to the work. This kind of primal experience is rare to find in concert dance, and it brings the artist in direct contact with the pure power and beauty of our planet.
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