Dance and Film: An Explanation

October 31, 2011 · Posted in Art 

The combination of dance and filmmaking goes by many names, including: Dance on Camera, Dance for the Camera, Dance Media, Dance-film, and so on. What makes it original art is that it’s a visual medium that has its content be dance-art but with the intent of evoking the experience of dance. Since it’s still in its beginnings, a clear description of the differences in connotation may help clarify what dance and film means to the various people who use various monikers for such marrying of two mediums.

“Dancing on Camera” is not a hybrid form of art, but merely a dance that has a camera aimed at it. A girl dancing in her living room for YouTube is Dance on Camera. Ginger Rogers is Dance on Camera. A camera could have been placed at any position and the result would have been the same because the film component is merely involved for its ability to record.

Dancing for Camera is a idea where the dance is made to be recorded, where there is an idea of camera-specific choreography. It also suggest that the concern will be how to dance when it’s for a camera. But in the end, the expectation is still the same–the product will ultimately be dance.

Screendance is an interesting word. In the English language, adjectives generally precede nouns. The second word in the pair is the essence of the thing. In Screendance, “dance” appears to be a noun and “screen” appears to be a modifier. Tap Dance and Modern Dance are two types of dance. “Tap” and “Modern” tells us which type. Hearing “Screendance,” one would expect its final form to be dance. It suggests a dance that happens on the screen. Fred Astaire, or perhaps, the study of dance for those who wish to appear on screen. This sounds less about the artistry of cinema and more about the dancing.

Dance-video is a filmic term where the second word shows that the result is something on screen. The fact that there’s an existing term “music video” helps one understand that “Dance-video” is a creative construction, a third new entity born of its two components. But its resemblance to “music video” is also a hindrance as there’s an association with a pop, commercial product. And the word “video” has consumer, perhaps less artistic, connotations. Videos are what are on YouTube, or America’s Funniest Home Videos. However, “Dance-film” has all the right things of “Dance-video” going for it, without the association with music videos. And the word “film” suggests a finer, more artistic medium. Universities have departments of Film Studies because “Film” is an art that deserves respect and deep inquiry. “Dance-film” is utilitarian-but direct and appropriately descriptive. In “Dance-film” there are two words that hit you with equal force. They feel like equal partners. But it’s clear that a dance-film is primarily a film, and one that will convey an experience of dance.

Tony and Melanie have been dancing, teaching, choreographing and developing wonderful choreography for over 30 years. The run New York City’s premier dance center. If you are interested in learning more history of any dances make sure you check out their site. They are now teaching dance lessons in NYC.


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