Watch your step

Movies afford different perspective on dance.

ON ONE LEVEL, all film is a kind of dance, the camera moving in and out, directing our attention to specific activities like choreography does. When the subject of the camera is also movement, the result is often a dance that cannot exist off the screen. Accordingly, for the second edition of New Dance Cinema, co-producers 33 Fainting Spells and the Northwest Film Forum have programmed a series of a dozen-odd dance films that use the camera’s mobility to enhance the kinetic impact of movement. Images from everyday life supply the raw material for their choreography. Some highlights:


runs March 1-4 at Little Theatre

Wim Vandekeybus, whose In Spite of Wishing and Wanting was seen at On the Boards last autumn, is both choreographer and director for Inasmuch . . . , a work that hugs the line between dance and silent film. In it, Vandekeybus sets up a basic pattern—intercutting between a woman straining on a bed, giving birth, and the other people involved (husband, midwife, friends). The pattern repeats later, only this time it’s a deathbed scene with a grieving son, but there’s the same mild chaos of family and friends in the next room. Inasmuch . . . is about the choreographer as director and editor, assembling existing behaviors rather than creating new movement.

In 21 ɴudes ࠄanser, Thierry De Mey works with more abstract dance sequences (choreographed by sister Mich謥-Anne), but his tight use of the lens controls our view of the action. We see bodies divided into their component parts, sliding through the frame, flashing in and out of our vision. De Mey was the director for Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas Danst Rosas in last year’s festival, in which he used the same techniques to deconstruct the original stage version of the dance, giving us a view on the work not possible in the theater.

Our local company 33 Fainting Spells will show Measure, its first dance film project, with Dayna Hanson and John Dixon performing in a 4-foot-wide corridor. The constriction of the place is matched by the control of the camera, which enhances the restrictions of the work and emphasizes complex step patterns within.

The festival includes four separate programs, along with a free screening and discussion Saturday afternoon entitled “Dance Film in Seattle,” with Measure and excerpts from Silence! by local artists Gregg Lachow and Megan Murphy. With almost all of this year’s films coming from Europe, New Dance Cinema is trying to encourage more dance filmmaking in the Northwest. From that, we may yet gain a new view of dances from our own stages.