Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reflections on the Dance Film Intensive with Kaeja d'Dance

Today I attended the one-day dance film-making intensive offered by Allen and Karen Kaeja. I had first seen Allen's dance film works at York University in 2008, during one of the courses which I had TA'd for during my M.A  in Dance. I'd always been interested in film as a visual medium, and the use of the body in film in particular, and I was fascinated by this genre of film (or dance? or meeting point for the two disciplines). During that class, we had watched sections of Kaeja's Asylum of Spoons (2005), and Old Country (2004).  I was interested in further investigating and exploring this medium. In the years in between, I did try making a dance film, shot on the rocks along the Atlantic Ocean at Port Medway Village in Nova Scotia. While the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, I wasn't quite happy with how the dancing interacted with the camera, and decided I wanted to further engage with this concept and learn more before I attempted my next one.

One of my goals in going in for this workshop was to garner ideas and knowhow on how to direct a shot, and how to envision a shot, and also to see examples of shots specific to this genre to get a sense of the possibilities in which they may be directed. I also deal with the limitations of not having expensive editing software- I use a very basic Windows Movie Maker for most of my video/dance projects, and hence much of my "eye" through which I hope to reveal my vision lies in the camera itself. In this aspect, I found the workshop very satisfying. Allen and Karen led us through a fascinating initial exercise of walking around a shared space with dancers, and getting used to "seeing" movement and its possibilities through the eye of the camera.

I particularly enjoyed the group exercises we did in making short dance films, and through these group exercises, also meeting the fellow participants of the workshop. One of my greatest joys at dance events is meeting new dance artists and new creative people. I was delighted to be attending with Amrapali 'Amber' Ray from Ekakshara Dance Creations. In addition to being an engineer and a dance artist, Amber is a talented visual artist, who works primarily with canvas. For the group project, Amber and I partnered up with two talented dancers, and made a one-minute continuous shot. We did several takes of this. One of my favourite parts of this project was also the collaborative aspect of it- the collaborative vision and work towards it. Watching and discussing the shots taken by the different groups afterwards was also fun and I found the feedback very informative and useful.

In the light of the workshop I took today, I think I am in a more informed position with regards to how to envision and direct a shot. The workshop did indeed address some of the significant aspects which I was curious about, and also opened up a world of possibilities in terms of what the camera-eye can do in interacting with dance. What I perhaps found the most valuable was Allen's emphasis on the camera as a living, active entity.

In retrospect, I'm also glad that I  attempted  my little project on the Atlantic. While there are many aspects I would change today in terms of framing and angles, the exercise was greatly useful in identifying the nature of my questions and entrypoints. I will probably load an edited version of the footage we took today soon. I'm happy to have taken the workshop.

1 comment:

  1. This is a side of dance that I have never even considered!! Fascinating! If you apply this workshop to a creative project I'd love to see it :)