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Dance (Lens) — Sound Into Sight

Gitta Wigro

'Almost Uninhabited' (2021), by Daniel Matos. Photo by Eduardo Pinto.

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Most people perceive films through two senses: sight and sound. Vision gets first billing: we say we ‘watch’ films, and our experience of their sound is rarely articulated. And yet, sound is the thing that actually touches us: disturbances in the distribution of air molecules become pressure waves inside the ear. For screendance it’s often particularly important to convey the physicality of what’s happening on screen. Sound can transmit the experience of weight, touch, texture, space, and bring depth to the two-dimensional image on screen.

Film distinguishes between the score—the music composed for the film—and sound design, which is every piece of audio in a film, including dialogue, sound effects, ambiance, score, and soundtrack, combined to create the film’s soundscape. These five films invite you to listen closely to their soundscapes: observe what you hear.


SALIDAS (2020), by Michael Fetter Nathansky

SALIDAS (span., DEPARTURES) is a fictional dance film which tells the story of Giralda, an undertaker who accompanies deceased human beings into their afterlife. Interpreted with the means of Spanish flamenco dance and music and set at an old East German ship canal lift, the film creates an associative fusion between Northern and Southern Europe, movement and silence, and farewells and eternity.

Screenwriter & director: Michael Fetter Nathansky
Creative producer: Virginia Martin
Choreographic consultation & casting: Christiane „La Mona”

A​ Contando Films ​production
Created as part of the​ short film project „Europe in Film” Funded by the ​German Federal Foreign Office
On the occasion of the German EU Council Presidency 2020 Conducted by​ German Film Academy Production

Salt Water (2018), by Abe Abraham

Considering the balance of order and chaos, tenderness and aggression, and playfulness and devastation contained in the simple motion of waves that rise and fall, Salt Water explores the contrast between the force of natural events and our own need and desire for stability.

Salt Water opens with an abstract sculptural mass of more than twenty dancers interlocked with bare curved backs that sway, rise and fall in wave-like motions. Individual identification is only a momentary glimpse. Beneath the abstract form, intimate human connections reside. For the viewer, this negotiation between a distant abstract surface and a face in close proximity evokes a stroke of empathy; a call from the depths that is once again swept away.

Artistic Statement:

As a choreographer/video-artist, I work with dancers to explore the transformative effects of physical confinement on human survival. I am particularly motivated to examine the impact of race relations and climate change on the physical body and its interconnectedness to other bodies. Body language, for me, is a powerful mode of communication that can reveal and express emotions that go beyond words. Importantly, it is the intimacy made possible by video as a medium that allows me to examine the human beings behind the “steps” and search for innovative ways to reflect the challenges of our collective existence. Rather than tell a story, I am interested in finding stories that emerge from a process of examining body language from multiple angles, as if under a microscope. In this search, I am particularly driven to find a variation of camera perspectives that challenge a single reading of a particular movement, gesture or sculptural formation of bodies. The compositional process is designed to absorb the natural world’s frenetic rhythms, glacial tempos and reckless impulses, as a way to discover new forms.

Director: Abe Abraham
Choreographer: Abe Abraham
Sound: JT Bullitt
Production: Abanar, Inc.
Featured Dancers: Caitlin Abraham, Izablea Szylinska, Jake Warren, Daniel White

Almost Uninhabited (2021), by Daniel Matos

Almost Uninhabited is based on the global dehydration we witness daily, a rapid geographical desertification that spreads like an irreversible and invisible plague, focusing on how the landscape becomes parallel to the place of the body, observing how the body is also a barren place devoid of stability due to the loss of attention on the basic functionality that keeps us alive: breathing.

The encounter of a desert is proposed between these two bodies that are consecutively inhaled and exhaled, a duet for two human beings is conceived in a fluid relationship between body, gender and desire, privileging action and the way in which one loses the body as one loses the world. An analysis of the current process of desertification we are experiencing together, environmentally and in the affective relationships that are dissipating between us.
“Breathing has been difficult lately, almost as difficult as breathing. Breathing has proved to be an act of courage for which we are not prepared to take responsibility, almost as difficult as deciding to breathe, as breathing so far away that it is hard for you to hear yourself breathe, to hear the other’s breathing as you breathe and as you run, like a gazelle.

I feel a current of air that comes in, that passes, that burns with cold and that pulls me from behind: that pulls me away from myself.”

Artistic Direction, Concept and Choreography: Daniel Matos
Key Cast: Hugo Cabral Mendes and Rafael Pinto
Original Music: Sara Pissarro
Directed: Vico Ughetto and Filipe Correia
Special Thanks: Salinas do Grelha

This project is supported by Compete 2020, Portugal 2020, Garantir Cultura Programme; European Union with the European funds for the regional development.

You made me love you (2005), by Miranda Pennell

Twenty-one dancers play a game of cat and mouse with an unpredictable camera. Losing contact can be traumatic.

Camera: John Smith

O before I (2020), by Robyn Byrne

Robyn brings her mother Olive back to the place where she danced as a child to gift her mother her own dance.

Robyn’s mother Olive has always wanted to dance but was never given the opportunity as a child. After twenty years of driving Robyn to her ballet lessons at Shawbrook, they return to the secluded woodland studios so that Olive can experience what it’s like to dance. Through three unique performances, we watch Olive and Robyn explore themes of mothering and what it’s like to be mothered. Rediscovering their mother/daughter relationship as adults. Filmed on the scenic grounds of Shawbrook with an original soundtrack, this short is a feast for all your senses.

Director: Robyn Byrne
Filmmaker: Gareth Byrne
Sound Design & Composition: Kevin Gleeson
Performers: Olive Buckley & Robyn Byrne

This film is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland with additional support from Shawbrook Dance and Westmeath County Council. 

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Gitta Wigro is a freelance dance film programmer and curator based in London, UK, and has worked with a wide range of international festivals, institutions and projects as a programmer, curator, juror, consultant and lecturer.

She is currently a programmer for the Screendance Competition at Leeds International Film Festival and one of the co-directors of Kinesthesia Festival.

She is a core lecturer at the Screendance MA at London Contemporary Dance School, and in that role facilitates the student-led dance film festival Frame Rush. She co-ordinates the International Screendance Calendar as a free, open resource.

Her previous roles include positions at The Place and Arts Council England, and was co-director of Independent Dance, an artist-led organisation providing a responsive research space for artists in their ongoing development as professionals.

Graeme Miller is an artist, composer and performance-maker working internationally across a wide range of media from radio to gallery installation and is known for his sited, performative social works. He makes work that often responds to ideas about place and time, creating situational pieces that shift the attention in his audience. He composes music and designs sound for theatre, dance, TV and film. 

Dance (Lens) 2023 is supported by the Besen Family Foundation.

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