Not being familiar with the emergent art form “screendance” meant that I was in for an unexpected treat when I attended a screening of the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema. I regularly see live dance performances and have become accustomed to that audience/dancer relationship. There is a kind of interaction that occurs in that setting (to different degrees according to the particular expression of dance involved, the size of the theater, and the formality of the venue). The audience is a part, however small, of the event.
Screendance is something else altogether. Incorporating the medium of film and the performance of dance, screendance effects both a remove from the usual sense of participation, and an increased intimacy between the artists and the audience. To watch film in the dark is to be isolated (the remove) and to have one’s gaze and experience directed and focused (the intimate factor) by the artists involved. In addition to the complexity introduced by filmic techniques, including stills, stop motion, time manipulation and close-ups, screendance is simply more specific than live dance. Each moment is designed for a look and impact that is difficult to mistake, and the result sharpens the viewer’s perspective to a point intended by the filmmaker.
The nine films specially chosen for the September 21st show at the Boedecker Theater, Dairy Center for the Arts, present a great variety of form and approach, but share enough aspects to work well together. Most were beautiful, and all were thoughtful. The dynamism of Lion Night and Day, the rocking cleverness of Vanishing Points, and the wonderful, colorful fun of Globe Trot are fine counterpoints to the more surreal, even psychological works Glace Crevasse et Dérive, The Bridge, and Birds in Warped Time. Glace Crevasse et Dérive is a thoroughly ambitious venture, utilizing challenging (freezing!) locations and deep metaphorical comparisons. Globe Trot is entirely different in intent, but equally impressive in its logistic demands. All seven continents are featured!
The attendees of this screening were privileged to share the theater with one of the artists, Holley Farmer of Two Solos. So clean, spare, and straightforward is the approach to this film that my mind had trouble accepting the incongruity of certain images made possible by film wizardry. Sketches of Soulsville: Royal Studios is a warm, almost loving work that, like Globe Trot, expands the conventional idea of what a dancer is and looks like. ME — Story of a Performance takes dance underwater and into the air, dissolving the boundaries of human movement and performance space. Somehow, Johanna Nuutinen’s dancing seems to achieve the same depth and breadth of line and shape in all environments.
Whether you enjoy attending dance performances or would prefer to never go, this “niche film festival” may be just what you didn’t know you were looking for. It’s fun and fresh, a highly visual, brain-stimulating experience. If you are still on the fence, view the demo reel, and keep in mind that one of the upcoming screenings is free!
For more information, show times and venue locations, visit SansSouciFest.org.
Jane E. Werle: With artwork and writing published by Bombay Gin, Hot Whiskey Press, Wyrd Tree Press, Summer Stock, and her own imprint, Thirsty Lizard Books, Jane is a passionate proponent of creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of elusive and meaningful beauty. A poet, educator, and longtime nanny, she works and explores with kids, challenging young minds and safeguarding young hearts. Jane graduated with an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has come up with no compelling reason since to move away from the lively Denver area and its admirably self-made cultural opportunities. Contact Jane with editing needs, parenting problems, and extravagant travel writing proposals.