Working with film, one of the hardest adjustments has been to tear my eyes from my dancers’ living bodies to their tiny image in a camera. As a dancemaker I instinctively track energy and seek meaning in movement, like an animal does. Looking at movement through a lens requires me to consider composition (big picture) at all times. For this reason, filming initially felt remote to me; a fearful act of distancing.
But the issue of choice - of deciding exactly what gets to exist within the frame, in the eye - that is exciting! No matter how well I design a dance, I can’t control my audience’s eye. A viewer watching a live performance retains instinct and choice. Witnessing live dance can be akin to wildlife; catch what you can as something tenses, strikes and disappears into thin air.
I work hard to fix my audience’s eye/mind on certain moments in my choreography. My practice involves luring the eye, and counting on our innate, hyper-intelligent decoding of motion: fast, slow, high, low, coiled, soft, staccato, smooth; as well as our unending fascination with facial expression.
Yet film offers me a whole new dimension of control. It feels closer as a medium to the visual art objects I grew up surrounded by: paintings, prints, photographs. Playing in film feels like coming close to home, closer to my visual artist parents, closer to the earliest ways they formed my eye. It’s opening up a whole new realm of meaning-making for me.