Dance on Screen

Dance on Screen
A series of events, both recent and upcoming, warrant, I feel, that this month’s blog be dedicated to the topic ‘Dance on Screen’ . . .

Last month, ReelDance, for many years Australia’s leading dance on screen organisation, announced its closure on 31 August 2012. On their website, the reason for this decision is given as “due to the discontinuation of appropriate levels of funding, without which ReelDance is unable to sustain and develop its core program. “

Established by the One Extra Dance Company and its founding director Erin Brannigan in 1999, ReelDance’s activities included workshops, forums, distribution, exhibitions, commissioning and screenings.  The popular ReelDance International Dance On Screen Festival was held biennially from 2000 and 2010.

I am sure that many of those interested in the film dance genre will bemoan ReelDance’s demise. However, not all is lost for screen dance in Australia. Far from it . . .

Australia Council Screen Dance Initiative
It was announced last week that Carriageworks has been selected to undertake the three-year, $300,00 screen dance initiative established by the dance board of the Australia Council for the Arts.  The project Carriageworks is set to deliver is called 24 Frames per Second and will see 24 commissioned artists, 18 from across Australia and 6 internationals create 24 new screen-based works over the three-year period.

What I find particularly exciting about the Australian artists Carriageworks will commission is that they are a remarkably diverse group in terms of their background – artistic and cultural as well as geographic. They include Tony Albert (Brisbane), Alison Currie (Adelaide), Vicki Van Hout (Sydney), James Newitt (Hobart), Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton (Melbourne), Khaled Sabsabi (Sydney), Aimee Smith (Perth), Latai Taumoepeau (Sydney), Christian Thompson (Gawler, South Australia) and Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters (Sydney).

Dance Film Masterclass
FORM Dance Projects joins forces with AFTRS (Australian Film TV and Radio School) this month to offer a 2-day dance film masterclass. It is designed for choreographers, dancers and film makers interested in the dance film genre. The program will consist of a historical overview of dance for the screen as well as provide a practical collaborative experience for the participants.

The masterclass will be facilitated by choreographer/director/performer Dr. Richard James Allen, renowned for his work with The Physical TV Company. It takes place at AFTRS on 28-29 July and is fully sold out. There are no longer any places available. FORM Dance Projects also subsidised a scholarship for an emerging independent choreographer or dancer to participate in the masterclass. The recipient of the scholarship is young dance/dance film artist Anya McKee.

A graduate from AFTRS and dance film enthusiast herself, FORM director Annette McLernon hopes that the partnership with AFTRS will be ongoing. In a recent conversation, she said: “The idea for the masterclass initiative came from wanting to encourage the collaborative process between choreographers/dancers and filmmakers – many of these artists work together on various projects but often meet with challenges working across disciplines. The masterclass will dig down into the collaborative process and hopefully spark some new ways of looking at the genre.”

Australian Dance Awards
In other good news for Australian screen dance, the Australian Dance Awards have reinstated the category for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film’ this year. The category had been dropped from the awards program for the last two years. The nominees this year are Sue Healey for Alma & Ena, Bryan Mason & Sophie Hyde for Life in Movement and Garry Stewart for Collision Course.

Stewart and Healey have both won awards in the category previously – Healey for Fine Line in 2003 and Will Time Tell? in 2008, Stewart, together with Gina Czarnecki, for Nascent in 2005. The great favourite this year, though, has to be Life in Movement, the excellent documentary about the life of late choreographer Tanja Liedtke. Life in Movement has picked up a number of awards both nationally and internationally. And its successful cinema release across Australia in April is a great reminder that there are indeed audiences for dance-related films.

Martin del Amo

Top image: Anthony Hamilton’s Blue Blaze Oneline. Credit: Byron Perry

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