Behind the Scenes of 'Footwork'
Have you ever wondered how choreographers make up dance material? As part of our blog series we will go inside the mind of the choreographer and discuss what inspires us to choreograph and how we put the material together to make a piece. With our ‘dance for the camera’ piece ‘Footwork’ we wanted to play with the idea of just looking at feet and the difference between pedestrian footwork and dance vocabulary footwork.
We used three dancers in the work and taped out the area that would be in view of the camera. The dancers were asked to improvise a dance footwork (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.) phrase that moved through the taped off square. The length was to be twelve counts and the dancers were to leave the view of the camera at least once during the length of the phrase. We took about ten minutes and each made up a phrase and showed the phrase to each other. We then decided which dancers’ phrase looked good repeated and made her footwork phrase the focal of the dance sections with the other two dancers moving through the view of the camera. Then one dancer counted out loud and we put the three dance footwork phrases together and videoed the result.
For the pedestrian movement phrase we had a similar setup. The dancers were directed to use pedestrian movement (walking, skipping, jumping, etc.) to come up with a twelve count directional movement phrase that took them through the space and left the view of the camera at least once. We had the dancers work to make a traveling phrase through the space and include directional changes. We took about another ten minutes to individually make up our phrases. Each dancer showed their phrase and again we assessed the movement and combined the three phrases walking through the patterns to make sure there were no collisions. We then videoed the combined pedestrian footwork phrase in the taped square.
We used video editing software to mix the two phrases together playing with the juxtaposition of dance vocabulary and pedestrian movement. The idea was to cut up the two videos and mix them to create a new phrase and movement pattern. Much like looking at live dance, the video clips became the dancers and we kept reworking where to cut the clips and how to mix them together and incorporate meaningful transitions. Once we had the final video piece, we created a unique musical accompaniment to complete the work.
‘Footwork’ is a short piece that allows the choreographer to direct the eye of the viewer just to the dancers’ feet and makes the feet the dancers themselves.