Posts in Category: Dance

Orbit by Arturo Cubacub

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A classic videopoem by Arturo Cubacub, this took First Prize in the 1987 Poetry Film Festival in San Francisco. Here’s the complete description from Vimeo:

Completed in 1986, “Orbit” is the seventh video of my “Unity Gain Series.”

Choreographed by Jan Heyn-Cubacub.
Danced by Jan Heyn-Cubacub, Denise McIntosh and Arturo Cubacub.
Direction, Poetry, Editing, Special Effects, Computer Animation and Music by Arturo Cubacub.

Description: Poetry, dance, computer animation and digital video effects are used to juxtapose constructive possibilities within our destructive tendencies. “The most important challenge of our time is to create on the same scale as we can destroy.” – Gene Youngblood, 2007.

“Orbit” has received the following awards:
First Prize, Festival International de Video Do Algarve/ 1988, Algarve, Portugal, November, 1988.
First Prize, The 12th Poetry Film Festival, San Francisco, December, 1987.
Honorable Mention, Performance/Stage Category, Dance on Camera Festival ‘87, New York, December, 1987.
Certificate of Merit, Suffolk County Film & Video Competition 1987, Suffolk County Motion Picture & TV Commission, New York, 1987.
Best Video Award, PSA-VMPD American International Video and Film Festival, August, 1987.
Best Experimental Film Award, PSA-VMPD American International Video and Film Festival, August, 1987.
VMPD Bronze Medal, PSA-VMPD American International Video and Film Festival, August, 1987.
Best of Fest Award, Art Category, 1987 Columbus Video Festival, Ohio, July, 1987.
Certificate of Merit, Festival of Illinois Film and Video Artists, May, 1987.
Second Place, Athens International Video Festival, March, 1987.
Certificate of Merit, The Chicago International Film Festival, October, 1986.
Regional Fellowship Award, The National Endowment for the Arts, March, 1984 (project funding).
Artists Grant Award, The Illinois Arts Council, Illinois, March, 1984 (project funding).

Послушайте / Please listen! by Vladimir Mayakovsky

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This wonderfully disturbing film by Natalia Alfutova was recognized by the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival 2016 jury as a Special Mention for the Goethe Film Prize. Be sure to click the closed captioning (CC) icon for the English translation. Here’s the description from the ZEBRA website:

The Dummy and its mirror-reflection are in the waiting room of God. They mimic the Human-talk and the God dancing.

Natalia Alfutova
was born in Moscow and studied Mathematics at the Moscow State University, movie directing at ‘Higher Director’s Courses’ Moscow,, and multimedia art at The Rodchenko Art School (Moscow). In 2014 she founded “Mediamead” art studio. Artworks of this studio are based on the mix of math, cinema and multimedia art. In last two years Natalia made a number of installations, which were shown in different Moscow Museums and art places.

Much to my own surprise, this is the first Mayakovsky poem I’ve ever shared a video for. I was sure I must’ve found others over the years, but apparently not.

Grouse Song by Ruth Thompson

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An improvised dance interpretation of a poem by Hawai’i-based poet Ruth Thompson from her latest book, Crazing. The dancers are Jenn Eng, Claudia Hagan, Anna Javier, Chloe Oldfather, Catherine Rehberg, and the poet herself. Camera, editing and audio are by Don Mitchell. The music is from the Miró Quartet.

Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi and Sean Graham

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Coming-of-age rituals are at the center of this powerful, uniquely collaborative poetry dance film from director Fiona Melville and producer/creative director Nathalie Teitler for the Dancing Words project, featuring poet/dancer Kayo Chingonyi, poet/dancer/choreographer Sean Graham, and a composition by Gemma Weekes (who is also an accomplished British writer).

According to the Wikipedia page on the Lovale/Luvale people of Zambia and Angola,

In Zambia the Luvale people hold the ‘Makishi festival’ to mark the end of the ‘kumukanda’ (or ‘initiation’). Every 5 years or so, boys from the same age group (young teenagers) are taken into the bush for 1–2 months where they undergo several rites of passage into manhood. These involve learning certain survival skills, learning about women and how to be a good husband, learning about fatherhood, and also they are circumcised. The Luvale consider uncircumcised men to be dirty or unhygienic. It is said that in some very rural areas where the kumukanda is maintained in its strictest traditional sense that if a woman is to pass by the boy’s ‘bushcamp’ whilst they are undergoing kumukanda then she must be punished, even killed. To celebrate the boys’ completion of the kumukanda the Makishi festival welcomes them back to the village as men.

Quattro Ottobre (October Fourth) by Francesca Gironi

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A unique piece even by the highly eclectic standards of the poetry-dance film genre. For one thing, the dancer/choreographer, Francesca Gironi, also wrote the text. For another, video artist Jack Daverio‘s imagery complements and expands the text in such a way that this could easily be characterized as a videopoem senso strictu. It’s described on Vimeo as an “Ironic dialogue between poetry and video art. Self escape becomes hyper presence.” The music is by Luca Losacco.

Quattro Ottobre was a finalist at the Doctorclip poetry film festival as well as in the Carbon Culture Review Poetry Film Competition 2016, judged by Zata Banks, who describes it as “A strong example of a dance-led poetry film incorporating sound design, visual layering and a voiceover poem about the self.” (Click through for biographies for Gironi, Daverio and Losacco.)

On the Road to the Sea by Charlotte Mew

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A wonderful dance interpretation of a poem by the early modern British writer Charlotte Mew, voiced by Alice Barclay. Zenaida Yanowski, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet in London, performs with choreography and film direction by Will Tuckett. The film represents a collaboration between Tuckett and the poetry-performing ensemble LiveCanon.

With all the dance-centered poetry films I’ve posted here over the years, I can’t remember one taking such a balletic approach before. I hope this isn’t the last.

Sweet Liquor by Malika Booker

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The latest film in the Dancing Words project directed by Fiona Melville (with creative direction from Nathalie Teitler) pairs poet Malika Booker and dancer/choreographer Leon Rose. Here’s the description from the project website:

Sweet Liquor is a collaboration between renowned black British poet, Malika Booker and dancer/choreographer Leon Rose. The poem is taken from Booker’s prize winning collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press) and explores the world of the soca fete. It tells the story of a young Caribbean soldier, recently returned from war with psychological scars, who finds out that he has been re-drafted.

The piece explores a dance-poetry collaboration in which the dance centers around social dancing: its impact on the individual and the community. The aim was to make something experimental and edgy with a political message. In selecting the dancer/choreographer the goal was to find someone who would look totally natural dancing soca, as well as being a skilled professional dancer/choreographer. Latin and contemporary dancer, internationally known Leon Rose, who has twenty years of dance and choreography experience, was the perfect choice: both he and Malika have been going to Carnival since they were a few months old. Their mothers would argue that they took part in Carnival while in the womb. When the piece was being filmed, it quickly became clear that there was something magical in the way the two artists danced together; it spoke both of the relationship between the man and the woman in the poem, but also spoke to the wider relationships between genders in this part of the world. Here we see a woman as the strong voice and rock able to contain and comfort a young, damaged man. Combined with the beautiful and haunting pan music of composer Kyron Akal, (composed for this piece) the result was a piece which challenges stereotypes of soca and carnival and brings a beautiful, fierce poem to life.

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