Bodies in Motion

Ilse Gassinger

A showcase of powerful, award winning dance films where choreography and cinematography meet in a unique hybrid art form. In collaboration with United Media Arts, Durham.

Critically acclaimed contemporary Canadian and international choreographers, filmmakers and dance performers have combined their talents to create poetic and visually compelling works of contemporary dance for the screen that bring the audience into a new relationship with dance performance. You will have the opportunity to view a body of work that has come out of experiments in this medium over the past fifteen years, ranging from the purely abstract to the wildly theatrical.

There are endless possibilities when choreographic ideas engage with processes of filming and editing. The relationship to time and space is completely different between stage and film choreography. While stage performance is in real time, with cinema there are cuts. With editing, entrances and exits disappear; dancers can be re-placed anywhere.

Film can take dance to unusual sites: in Boy we and the performer are transported to a remote beach while Le P’tit Bal is set, incongruously, in a lush meadow. The scene can be moved as easily to the social milieu, as in When Dancers go Bowling or to the architectural, such as in Le Petit Musée de Vélasquez, or even the virtual in Ghostcatching. In film there is no fourth wall construction of the image to the public and the edge of the stage. With cinematographic tools you can break the laws of force, time and space. The camera can be placed anywhere, even under water as we find in Burst. The camera can depict views and suggest visions of the dance from a variety of positions and angles unavailable to an audience during the live performance.

Film possesses the potential to transform stage bodies into screen bodies. The grammar of film, which includes music and sound, adds layers to the body’s narration. The camera brings us, as the audience, closer to the physical and kinetic reality of the performer, offering us an experience that crosses over the visual boundary of the screen into the somatic arena of the dancers’ bodies. Cinematography transforms dancers into screen actors and adds new words to the vocabulary of body language. In a close-up we lose sight of the dancing body’s spatial orientation but gain a perspective of gestures, expressions and movements. The site of the body is enhanced and magnified through fragmentation, acceleration, slow motion and multiplication thus creating an intimacy between the viewer and performer a stage performance cannot deliver. Other cinematographic choices available to directors and choreographers such as the use of colour, can be used to emphasize emotions and drama or to create dreamlike, surreal impressions and fantasies.

The moving camera not only follows the dance from a chosen distance or perspective, it actively participates in the choreography. It not only observes the performance, it dances with the dancer (quite literally in Lodela). The effect of montage, animation and editing are such that it is not only the dancer who is moving, the space surrounding the dancer, be it exterior space, everyday interior space or a fictitiously created world, is also set in motion.

Having addressed some of the core differences between stage and film choreography there is still something to be said. Watching this program you will experience trends in contemporary dance and what filmmakers do with it, but you will also encounter passion, beauty, parody, desire, gracefulness, humour, lust, bold physicality, magic, zest, and entertainment. May the melange of works spark your interest, fete your senses and stimulate your imagination. Let’s dance!

Program Details

Bodies in Motion
Friday, September 3, 8:00
Durham Town Hall
185 George Street West, Durham


5 min. (2003) Iceland

Director: Reynir Lyngdal
Choreographer: Katrin Hall

A couple, performed by Kata Johnson and Elías Knudsen, fights in their bedroom unleashing not only their passions but also the raging waters of a burst water pipe.


5 min. (1995) UK

Rosemary Lee & Peter Anderson

A short film that enters the exuberant world of a young boy playing along an empty shore. It's a world of feeling physical, testing strength, imaging enemies and conquering space and natural elements with a certain unmistakable boyish masculine bravado.

Motion Control

10 min. (2001) UK

Director: David Anderson
Choreographer/Performer: Liz Aggiss

It’s four in the morning but she cannot sleep. There’s someone in the room, some...thing in the room. She tries to escape, but only finds herself flat on her back on the concrete floor or caged in a niche. A breathless, grotesque duet between camera and performer.


7 min. (1999) USA

Directors: Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar
Choreographer: Bill T. Jones

Ghostcatching finds its place in the unexpected intersection of dance, drawing, and computer composition. Jones’ gestures are freed from his body and projected into virtual space. Using body sensors and motion capture technology, Kaiser and Eshkar translated real world movement into virtual line and form. ‘We didn’t want to create a tool for dance. We wanted to create a tool that was a dance.’

Le P’tit Bal

4 min. (1994) France

Director/Choreographer: Philippe Decouflé

In this irresistible short piece by the prolific French choreographer Philippe Decouflé, a couple enacts the infectiously nostalgic lyrics of C’etait Bien with a meticulously timed gestural language.

Outside In

9 min. (1994) UK/USA

Director: Margaret Williams
Choreographer: Victoria Marks

Made for the CandoCo, a British company of able bodied and disabled dancers, Outside In is a voyage of discovery and surprises: a witty and affectionate exploration of physicality, identity and movement that transforms our understanding of dance.


9 min. (2000) UK

Director: David Hinton
Choreographer: Yolande Snaith

Both Birds and Snow, directed by David Hinton, are made entirely from found archive footage. In Birds Hinton turns the natural movements of birds into an exhilarating dance.


8 min. (2003) UK

Director: David Hinton
Choreographer: Rosemary Lee

Made from fragments of pre-1960s archive footage, Snow turns ice-rinks and snow-covered city streets into the stage for a slippery, slapstick dance.


3 min. (2002) Netherlands

Director/Choreographer: Hans Beenhaaker.

Riveting and emotionally charged, Wiped is fresh, innovative filmmaking with tight editing and extraordinary pacing. The film sets up a game between fantasy and reality that is never resolved.

When Dancers Go Bowling

17 min. (2000) USA

Director: Michael DeMirjian
Choreographer: Amanda Rabin

In When Dancers Go Bowling, eight disgruntled dancers converge on a bowling alley and have their way with the facility. A deadpan 1961 bowling instruction record placidly narrates the wryly humorous ruckus.

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary
Thursday, September 9, 8:30
Hanover Drive-In Theatre
Drive-in Road (South at Campbell’s Corner), Hanover

Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary

76 min. (2002) Canada (A Domino Film Presentation)

Director: Guy Maddin
Choreography: Mark Godden and Guy Maddin

Winnipeg director Guy Maddin’s film is the cinematic version of an acclaimed ballet, performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet under the choreography of Mark Godden. Combining avant-garde silent cinema this stunning re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a darkly humorous exploration of dread and desire, repressed sexuality and male jealousy.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s interpretation of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire yarn is transposed from stage to screen as a sumptuous, erotically charged feast of dance, drama and shadow. The black-and-white, blood-red-splashed film is a grand Gothic spectacle of the notorious Count and his bodice-ripped victims, fringed with the expressionistic strains of Gustav Mahler.

The hallmarks of Maddin’s unique cinematic vision are a perfect fit with the classic horror tale. His fifth feature does not depart from his usual modus operandi – the loving, nostalgic caricature of old film styles and genres while adding his own wit and a touch of surrealism. Maddin has accentuated the ballet’s racial and erotic subtexts with a cartoonish audacity, portraying the count as a mysterious Eastern Other spreading contamination into the West. For all its oddities, the movie, filmed mostly in Super 8, is surprisingly faithful to the 1897 Bram Stoker novel.

Le Petit Musée de Vélasquez
Saturday, September 11, 8:30
Hanover Drive-In Theatre
Drive-in Road (South at Campbell’s Corner), Hanover

Le Petit Musée de Vélasquez

50 min. (1994) Canada

Director: Bernar Hébert
Choreographer: Édouard Lock

Hébert imagines on film a private museum dedicated to the paintings of the Spanish baroque artist Diego Velazquez. Together with Édouard Lock’s dance troupe La La La Human Steps, he brings the 17th century painting to life in a surreal dreamscape. Hébert focuses on two paintings of Velazquez’s for the majority of the fifty-minute film. The Maids and Venus at her Mirror as the film plays on mirrors, reflections, transparencies and water images.

This free adaptation of eight choreographies from a stage production of the acclaimed Montreal dance troupe LALALA HUMAN STEPS features the flamboyant Louise Lecevalier, accompanied by the other dancers of the company. Through the dreams of a mysterious woman, the spectator is guided into a dream-like world where the boundaries between fantasy, fiction, art and dance dissolve. Thus begins a rhythmic journey through a series of breathtaking choreographies whose movements are at once sensual and brutal. This intriguing voyage forces a confrontation between the rich and troubling art of the past and the explosive world of contemporary dance. Through an intricate play of doubles and mirrors, the spectator is guided through a labyrinth where everything seems to be involved in an infinite process of creation and recreation.

Reel Dance on the Road
Friday, September 10, 8:00
Durham Town Hall
185 George Street West, Durham

Reel Dance on the Road

Kathleen M. Smith, director of the Moving Pictures Festival of Dance on Film and Video will present the works of Canadian directors who explored and forged a dance film/video language distinctly their own. This series is part of the Moving Pictures Reel Dance on the Road program and co-sponsored by the festival organization.

Moving Pictures Trailer – In the Round

1 min. (2000) Canada

Director: Gregory Nixon
Performer: Jesse von Rooi

Horses Never Lie

5 min. (2002) Canada

Director: Kathi Prosser
Choreography/Performer: Caroline Richardson.

Three solos: fear: a personal journey inward; recovery: weakness becomes strength; and strength: the boundless reward of confronting and conquering fear.

Hasta La Proxima

5 min. (2003) Canada

Director: Mark Adam
Choreography: Victor Quijda (Rubberbandance Group)

An office skyscraper is the setting for this dance film about love, loss and the psychic connection between lovers.


7 min. (1999) Canada

Director: Mark Adam and Allen Kaeja

A memoir to the lost family of Allen Kaeja’s father, whose entire family perished during the Holocaust of WWII. Part 3 of a dance on film trilogy which includes Sarah and Witnessed.

Tongue Bully

5 min. (2004) Canada

Director: Annie Bradley
Choreography/Performer: Learie McNicolls

This spoken word art film captures the powerful poetic performance/dance and original music of two-time Dora award winner Learie McNicolls.


4 min. (1997) Canada

Director: Michael Downing
Choreography/Performer: Susanna Hood

A duet for dancer and camera performed in a confined space accompanied by Brennin Green’s dj beats.

Falling Gothic Green

6 min. (2003) Canada

Director/Choreography: Christopher House

Based on the medieval Arthurian poem Sir Gawain and the Green Night. Filmed on location in the Sylvan Albion Hills.


5 min. (2003) Canada

Director: Geoffrey Pugen
Choreography/Performer: Alison Denham

An exploration into the transformations of the body throughout one’s lifetime. Inspired by Norman McLaren’s Pas de Deux.

Elizabeth Langley: Light Years

8 min. (2003) Canada

Director: Jenn Goodwin

Elizabeth Langley is one of Canada’s unsung heroes of dance. On her 70th birthday, she contemplates death, celebrates life and continues to dance like no one is watching.


27 min. (1996) Canada

Director: Philippe Baylaucq
Choreography: Jose Navas

An evocation of the origins of the world. A hymn to the beauty of the human form. A celebration of movement. A metaphor for life and death. Inspired by myths of the afterlife, this allegorical dance piece illuminates the soul’s quest by exploring movement and the human body in new and astonishing ways.