Yuni Hadi from Objectifs curates our 3rd edition of the Dance|Film programme at the Singapore Arts Festival. 4 films were commissioned from Singapore artists to premiere at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012. Yuni speaks to Gek Li San; Daniel Kok; Elysa Wendi and Gozde & Russel Zehnder about their films in this interview.

YH: What is dance|film to you?

Li San: Dance film is a new form of expression that elevates the vocabulary of movement when combining film and dance in one single medium. It helps to define the form of dance more clearly and yet un-define the form of film with a wider interpretation. Their common language – movement is on its way to find a new denomination. It is an interesting time to create dance film when the force of movement is at its peak in our digital world.

Daniel: A dance film is a hybrid form. Being neither strictly film nor strictly dance, its ontology is produced by a tension when the two more familiar forms collide on the same representational plane, allowing new potentials for the experience of time and moving images. Hence, the question I ask myself is less what a dance film is but what it could be.

Elysa: Dance film is a film initiated from the movement point of view. I mean, the starting point. From camera movements, human and object’s motion to structure, stories and motifs, it has a very close relationship to choreographic intentions. However, sometimes it is hard to define one that is a dance film and one that is not. Personally, I think it is on its own, it is still evolving from different creators’ perspectives.

Gozde & Russel: Dance film brings the dance to everyone and everywhere. It is interesting to use outdoor locations and to be able to use everywhere as your stage rather then watching dancers dancing only in one place which is usually on a stage. To us, dance film is also to create a coherent  rhythm of sometimes unexpected movements. Either choreographed or not, the movement with music or natural sound is enigmatic to watch.

YH: Share the inspiration for your dance|film idea that will premiere at the Singapore Arts Festival 2012.

Li San: The idea of this new dance film, Primal Fear, is a continuation of exploration of self from my last dance film installation work U_R_NOT_ME. It is my way of asking questions about my life and the world that revolves around it. I like the ambiguity of asking the question using dance film. It makes the question bigger than it is.

Fear is an emotion I noticed that is growing rampantly in our society. I witness how such emotions can cripple my/our life. By approaching the question whether can we “control” our fear through this story, is my way of finding a way out. 

Daniel: My piece ddd began with an image – specifically an anonymous figure covered from head to toe. How do I use text to produce that image and get to that figure, bring that figure into movement? I wanted to start with an empty screen and end with an image full of visual information. 

Elysa: What moves in a way that triggers “manifestation” in space, body and time….could be objects, human, animal or wind and how can the medium of film contextualize different textures in movement? Most often, I am interested in the co-relationship of cinematographic movements as my “dancers”. Sometimes, film could bring a different reality to my dance environment. Mixing of element of the mundane and fantasy often bring me to a dance film idea.

Gozde & Russel: A scene from a script I wrote was the initial starting point of our discussion which led us to discover the origins of  ‘Maypole dance’ – a dance ritual to celebrate the beginning of summer/spring in the old times in Europe. The noble manifesto of that celebration was bringing the people together regardless of their class difference in that one day…stories told, songs are shared…they use colorful strings attached to poles to dance… inspired by the mood…it is a happy mood…a discovery…see the big picture…created by details…sometimes we only need to feel the comfort of nothingness…after a story shared…the words can float with the music….the movements can be connected….We were also inspired by  ‘Contact improvisation’ – this a form of dance that literally enables a form of improvisation through the contact of body.

YH: What can the audience expect from watching dance/films?

Li San: The audience will have the opportunity of indulging in a world of ambiguity of movements. A chance for everyone to ask questions. They may or may not find the answers they are looking for. At the end of the day, we may also ask the question whether is “asking questions” more important than “finding an answer”. I hope the Singapore audience can learn to enjoy an uncharted land of wonders where lines are blurred, signs are obscure and journeys are vague.  There is beauty in uncertainty too.

Daniel: I would like that a dance film places the audience in an active position, such that the spectatorship of the work requires the viewer to construct part of the experience, whether by imagining movement for oneself or being critically aware of one’s own cognitive process.

Elysa: Just simply be open to different possibilities and different logics. Sometimes the audience could expect storytelling in movement form, sometimes could be a gush of emotion which you can’t identify or sometimes could be just simply dance from the perspective of the director……

Gozde & Russel: Watching  ‘dance films’  is a journey.

YH: Please share with us a favourite dance|film of yours.

Li San: Oh yes, my personal favourite is Amelia by Édouard Lock. This dance film will definitely shock the audience with the intensity of its movements and the challenging technical choreography of the dance.

The space created by the director (who is also a dance choreographer) is totally mind blowing. A few scenes can be found online:

Daniel: Routes (2008) by Alex Reuben, Opening sequence in Wreckmeister Harmonies(2000) by Béla Tarr, Opening sequence in La Jetée (1962) by Chris Marker.

Elysa: My favourites are Blush by Wim Vanderkeybus (Ultima Vez) and Strangefish by Lyod Newson (DV8).

Gozde & Russel: We are inspired by different artists, environmentalists or photographers (Francesca Fini, Andy Goldsworthy, Maya Deren, Eikoh Hosoe) and the way they move or they do things to create their art.  Dance films by Maya Deren – At Land & Meshes of the Afternoon & A Study in Choreography for Camera. Really, we should say all the films done by Maya Deren.