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37th Annual Dance on Camera Festival

by Lori Ortiz
December 31, 2008
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456
Walter Reade Theater
January 6-17, 2009

Co-production of the Dance Films Association and the Film Society of Lincoln Center

http://www.dancefilmsassn.org/
http://www.filmlinc.com
Sometimes dance on camera isn't secondary to live performance. This year's Festival reveals the world of dance through moving images— and the offerings show us great dance moments. Some are standard-setting films. In that spirit, Q & As and panel discussions augment the screenings at the Walter Reade. The gallery just outside will be the site of a town-hall-style meeting on new platforms for dance films, like TenduTV. New media is in focus this year, but so is Africa, India, Russia, and the earliest days of film.

For a perspective on how far dance on camera has come, see "The Bluebird," a silent film from 1918 based on a tale of the search for the bluest bird of happiness. Dancing children are silhouettes seen through the windows of a house. Dance on camera was very young and everything looks like an innovation. Ben Model provides live piano accompaniment.

The Festival offerings from far and wide include "Ishanou" (The Chosen One,) a window on the Meitei matriarchal cult in Manipuri, India. A Saturday workshop at the midtown New Dance Group headquarters is planned, with expert Noopur Singh.

Director Bertrand Normand set out to learn what makes the Russian ballerina unique in "Ballerina." Suddenly Kirov principal Alina Somova, seen at City Center in the fall, looks human instead of superhuman. We see her at ten-years-old in her first Vaganova class and then dancing in Swan Lake at eighteen. Diana Vishneva is shown at her dressing table and guesting with the Paris Opera. Ulyana Lopatkina speaks of an ankle injury that interrupted her dancing life for two years. We watch a rehearsal bit of her famous "Dying Swan." Shown with "Ballerina," Gillian Lacey's new 23-minute "Play: On the Beach with the Ballet Russes" brings footage of Serge Lifar and and Tamara Toumanova frolicking during the company's late '30s Australian tour. Former Ballet Russes member Betty Low will attend the opening night. The young Normand will be on hand to answer questions.

For those who know how important Jiri Kylian is to modern ballet, the Festival is an opportunity to become acquainted with masterpieces not seen in New York. "Wings of Wax," is an analysis of athletics, but manages to look playful rather than athletic. Four nonpareil Nederlands Dans Theatre I dancers perform this for TV. In "Sleepless," NDT II dancers capture that creepy quality of a bad dream. ABT performed the spectacular "Petit Mort," classical fight choreography, here in 2003. You can learn more about it here.

European choreographers have attempted to build on Kylian's style, with varying success. The films will only make you long to see the dancers performing these works live, but Kylian and NDT's collaboration with director Hans Hulscher is more than the sum of its parts. The stage looks boundless. The lighting by Kees T Jeebes and the sound convey the dance spectacularly. This is a dance film that is not just documentary but form in itself. Included in the final showing at 3:30 on the 17th, head of Julliard Dance, Lawrence Rhodes, and ABT principal Gillian Murphy join Star Ledger critic and Pointe magazine editor Robert Johnson in a discussion on mastering the Kylian style.

"Nora" is a winning project funded by the Rensselaer Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, EMPAC. Bessie-awarded dancer and choreographer Nora Chipaumire went back to her birthplace Zimbabwe and, with Alla Kovgan and David Hinton directing, performed a narrative "biography." With rhythmic movement and percussion, and hyperintense colors, she conveys the notion that dance is a part of life in Africa. It comes alive in this touching film. Shown with "Nora" is Sasha Waltz and Karsten Liske's "Historia," haunting for its juxtaposed images of life and death. Claudia de Serpa Soares dances the main character.

In "Antonio Gades: The Ethics of Dancing," the flamenco master says his dancing comes from without, and not within. He dances the spirit of Spain and Cuba. Gades travelled back and forth between the two countries, dancing in Alicia Alonso's Havana ballet company. He changed the face of flamenco by infusing it with classical ballet.

Not to be missed, are the festival's new Busby Berkeley prints. So much of dance looks to Berkeley's films. Seeing them on the big screen, as they were first seen, and enhanced with today's tech touches, is an almost necessary experience. Choreographer and filmmaker Kriota Wilburg talks on Berkeley's influence at 2:30 January 10th.

Dance New Amsterdam is the site of four filmmaking workshops with award-winning Festival film directors. Why not begin the New Year with something to talk about, having seen Dance on Camera? Follow the links above for the full schedule of events.

Photo Credit: The Film Society of Lincoln Center
The Blue Bird directed by Maurice Tourneur, USA, 1918; 81m Kino International

The Blue Bird directed by Maurice Tourneur, USA, 1918; 81m
Kino International

Photo © & courtesy of Joanna Ney


Diana Vishneva from 'Ballerina' Directed by Bertrand No Diana Vishneva in 'Ballerina' Bertrand Normand, France, 2007; 77m First Run Features  First Run Features

Diana Vishneva from "Ballerina"
Directed by Bertrand
No
Diana Vishneva in "Ballerina" Bertrand Normand, France, 2007; 77m First Run Features

First Run Features

Photo © & courtesy of Joanna Ney


Nederlands Dans Theater in 'Sleepless' 'Sleepless' Directed by Hans Hulscher, 2004, 26m Nederlands Dans Theater

Nederlands Dans Theater in
"Sleepless"
"Sleepless" Directed by Hans Hulscher, 2004, 26m
Nederlands Dans Theater

Photo © & courtesy of Joanna Ney


Nora Chipaumire in'Nora' Directed by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton, USA/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/UK, 2008; 35m EMPAC

Nora Chipaumire in"Nora"
Directed by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton, USA/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/UK, 2008; 35m EMPAC

Photo © & courtesy of Joanna Ney


Carmen Miranda as Dorita in 'The Gang's All Here' Directed by Busby Berkeley, USA, 1943; 103m 20th Century-Fox

Carmen Miranda as Dorita in "The Gang's All Here"
Directed by Busby Berkeley, USA, 1943; 103m 20th Century-Fox

Photo © & courtesy of Joanna Ney

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