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59 minutes and 38 seconds

Chisenhale Dance Space, Artists' Programme, 2002

Dance, Film, Sound and the Environment
in research collaboration with the visual artist, Jim Roseveare 

London is a city in motion.  It is a motion that is incessant as it is restless.  The Metropolis is frequently characterised as a place of frenetic pace, rapid social change and urban anxiety.  And yet it is something more; for it is a city of quiet green corners and wide open parks, places which run against visions of the delirious and rabid speed of post-modern life.  The work attempts to make the contrast and diversity of London explicit, by focusing on a body’s dynamic within a woodland environment.

Filmed by two movie cameras; fixed, adjacent viewpoints of the woodland landscape in which a dancer’s body makes a series of continuous, improvised movements.  Subtly the body shifts from one frame to the other emphasising the myriad of small and apparently insubstantial changes that occur in real time.  High image resolution and minimal editing gives a rich and detailed tableaux, enhancing minute changes both in the landscape and the dancer, achieving the main aim of a dialogue between stasis and movement, the inanimate and the animate, and time and space.  Each frame – with or without dance – exists independently within this dialogue and gives equal importance to dance and the landscape.  

SEKI’s dance improvisation in the woodland environment is influenced by Butoh, and more specifically it explores the concept of ‘Ma’, a theme which runs throughout the project.  ‘Ma’ is a central principle of Japanese Noh theatre.  In this tradition it is what the actor does not do that is of interest ‘Senu tokoro ga omoshiroi’.  The dancer’s performance comes as much from her stillness as from her movement.  Her response and connection to the specific environment places her in the woodland as an integral part of a living landscape.  Reversing western understandings of the body and action, her movement is initiated by the body rather than the mind.  “The dancer shall not dance – but should be danced” (Tadashi Endo).

Jim Roseveare’s recording technique aims to explore both the stasis of the fixed frame of the stills camera and the animated movement of the moving image.  Although recorded in real time our challenge will be to represent time in a way that is abbreviated, concentrated, extended and reduced.  We will use ambient sound recording, which, whilst creating an intimate atmosphere will also include distant or intrusive noises such as the rush of traffic or the thunder of a jet aeroplane.

Practically the woodland provides an enclosure and background while importantly involving minute change and movement.  In a poetic sense woodland is perceived as something constant, permanent and even eternal.  It is a place of fairy tales; a place of history and utility, a place of trysts and unsolved murders.



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