Review of the Danish Top 10

13.04.2015

The Danish film critic Michael Madsen has written a blogpost about the Danish Top 10.

Here is a translation of the text

 

When Dance and Film Merge

By Michael Madsen

Sometimes one experiences, how different art forms melt together, and how these new symbioses make the forms grow and become bigger, than what they were apart.

That is how it is with ‘60secondsdance’ – an international online competition for dance films with only one rule: the films have to be exactly one minute. no more, no less. Behind the project are three partners from three Nordic countries: Dansehallerne/ScreenMoves from Denmark, the Finnish Loikka Dance Film Festival and Swedish ScreenDance Festival.

Normally dance film is quite a colorful film gene, where the majority of films are more or less successful musicals or coming-of-age films about dancers making their big career break. Similarly, the documentary genre has had a grip on dance. An example of this is Wim Wender’s spectacular ‘Pina’ (2011) about the famous dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch.

Meanwhile, ‘60secondsdance’ has created its’ own niche, or rather a bridge between the two art forms, dance and film. The dogma time rule forces the contestants to use the many possibilities of the film-media in order to present the dance and the stories they wish to tell in 60 seconds. In that way the dance films entered into the competition become interesting for both dance- and film fans.

 

The 10 Films

There are lots of examples of this in the Danish Top 10 of the competition. In ’Nashima’, a nude, primal dance look is combined with animal sounds and the red tinted and grainy aesthetics of silent film. The result is both fascinating and disturbing.

JUMP’ on the other hand is a piece of precise editing. Two-three persons run from the side of the frame, turning and jumping towards the spectator, while the edit cuts from person to person, so that in the end it all seems like one, continuous movement and release of energy. Simple, as well as beautiful.

During ‘And Even Then We’ll Still Pretend’ one involuntarily thinks of the old master of silent film Melieres. A couple is facing each other across a table. However, the whole arrangement of the set is in fact laid down, so the floor functions as a backdrop, which enables all sorts of acrobatic antics. A fun, and well executed concept.

Turning (Around)’ is more traditionally set up and shows a row of older couples dancing on a stage somewhere in Latin-America. The subdued grey/black/white universe fits well with the performers and the pace of the dance. It seems almost like a documentary, which it probably is.

Passage’ continues the subdued expression, but with more of a dramatic edge. A couple wearing winter clothes dances slowly and gracefully in front of snow covered cityscapes. A Nordic ambience and the music provide the film with a wistful, Bergman-inspired atmosphere of emotional dismay.

Fragile’ plays efficiently with the frame. A woman is dancing inside an old porcelain plate, causing it to move, crack and eventually drop off the wall. Another fun gimmick that explores the interplay of form and content to the max.

In ‘Bodylanguage Consult’ the only form of dance appears in the first 30 seconds, where fingers dance over a computer-keyboard. A woman in a tight, grey uniform sitting at a desk, loosens up slowly and throws conformities off herself while wriggling her body to dance rhythms, that contrast with the stiff frame.

Arms, legs and head that slowly push through the openings of some white clothes, are the backbone of ‘Dissection’. It is not actual dance, but rather bodily movements, that catch the intimacy between body and material.

Breakadventure’ like ‘Fragile’ plays with the frame. Stop-motion montages of cutout pieces of paper with pictures of the dancer utilize the movements of the dancer to form the shapes of the paper. Sometimes the dancer forms the paper scraps, and sometimes the paper is crumbled up; shifting control between dancer and paper. This power shift creates a fascinating dynamic, as if the paper and dancer were a couple dancing.

The Top 10 is very suitably topped off by ‘Eadweard Muybridge A Ballet in Five Movements, Movement One’. In form and content the film honors the first photographer to capture continuous movement, British Eadweard Muybridge. The film is a refreshing mixture of old and new with a focus on the aesthetics of movement.

 

Clearly, there are many good reasons to visit the website 60secondsdance.com and browse the many films - almost as like on YouTube.

From a dance film perspective, the ‘60secondsdance’ films work the best, when the film language and the film form are utilized to create a surprising frame around the dance and movements - and less well, when the film tools are left in the background. The Danish winners of the 2015 competition will be revealed at the Danish Film Institute’s Cinemateque in Copenhagen on Friday April 24th.

 

Read the text in Danish at Michael Madsens blog Cinemadsen