Thursday, January 27, 2011

Erin Brannigan's "Dancefilm"

Erin Brannigan works in dance and film as a journalist, academic and curator. She was the founding Director of ReelDance International Dance on Screen Festival and has curated dance screen programs and exhibitions for Sydney Festival 2008, Melbourne International Arts Festival 2003 and international dance screen festivals. Brannigan writes on dance for the Australian arts newspaper, RealTime and lectures in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts at the University of New South Wales.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Dancefilm is the end of Chapter 3 which I am beginning to think is the heart of the book. I am describing scenes from short films made by Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus. These scenes demonstrate the central role of gesture in understanding how dance functions within the broader milieu of filmmaking. Dance really constitutes an alternative to language in cinema, an alternative way of expressing something or creating meaning. Yet cinema, by and large, is dominated by narrative and other language-based forms of meaning production. In the Vandekeybus scenes - as in musicals and many other types of dancefilm - a choreographic approach to gesture, where gestures are adapted or manipulated in some way, creates a bridge between drama and dance, between narrative cinema and a more experimental approach to physical screen performance. So page 99 demonstrates how dance figures as a force in cinema that draws attention back to the moving body and its non-linear way of operating and producing meaning. Gesture, that step between language and dance, is a mode of screen performance that reappears throughout my book, inhabiting the place between acting and dancing. Gestural performance helped me understand the role of choreography in cinema as an expressive force that 'takes us where language cannot', from Maya Deren to Bob Fosse to Chris Cunningham.
Read more about Dancefilm at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue