Here I am at Schiphol Airport making an encouragingly conscious decision to begin writing about my experiences at one of my favourite screendance festivals so far. CINEDANS, dance on screen festival. Running from the 16th – 20th March 2016.
Now in its 13th consecutive year, and taking place in one of my favourite cities to visit in the world, this legendary festival did not disappoint. At the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam, Cindedans had a large array of short and documentary dance on screen alongside other dance and screen based work from beautiful and engaging installations to thought provoking live performance. This diverse festival provided insight into the culture surrounding current and past screendance practices, within a wide range of popular and underground creative cultures.
That’s a lot! I hear you say. And yes it was. The aforementioned activities were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to this festival. Saying that, the whole programme was nicely spaced out, with breaks between screenings averaging at around 30mins, which I found gave me an adequate amount of reflection time; I regularly left the EYE to walk around the immensely futuristic building, along the bank of the river on the ‘sunny side’ of the city, digesting what I had seen while being surrounded by a thought-provoking landscape.
The best thing about this festival for, apart from the ideal location, were the shear amount of urban dance films screened. This even included two separate screenings that engaged the urban screendance culture specifically – entitled URBAN DANCE DOCS & URBAN INSPIRATIONS.
The ‘Urban Dance Documentaries’ screening included documentaries that looked at solo artists in the hip hop industry as well as hip hop for the theatre development. I have to send a shout out to UK’s very own Ben Williams, with a BCTV (Breakin’ Convention Television) documentary on two young BGirls ‘TERRA AND EDDIE’, which featured in both screenings!! So big love and respect to Ben for such an engaging and humour filled profile on the two amazing dancers!
So here we arrive at a serious moment… During the Q&A portion of the URBAN DANCE DOCS a lady in the audience (after being shown an urban documentary entitled DRIE STAPPEN VOORUIT, a documentary from the Netherlands that focusing on the working processes of choreographer Ed Wubbe on urban dance theatre piece LOUD!) still was asking the question of whether Hip Hop dance should be in the theatre space. On top of this, the main thing that surprised me was that she believed that dancers of urban dance practices where limited to improvisation and could not be choreographed due to their seemingly untameable nature. This shocked me that people still thought in this way, especially knowing about how much hip hop dance theatre is progressed in London and being part of British Hip Hop Culture, I was forced to speak out.
The small debate that occurred in the audience and the on stage panel, which leads me to further stress the importance of screendance festivals around the world screening more urban orientated dance-films that are pushing the boundaries of the form. Or films that are, at the very least, telling interesting stories with urban dance forms. And even though Cinedans has shown that they are willing to curate an abundance of screendance with urban influences, there weren’t many people present from the culture to help back me up in the discourse that took place about Hip Hop dance specifically.
This does raise the question of how we are representing Hip Hop on the screen. Whatever we film, document and archive is exactly what people are going to see and that will dictate the opinions that exist within people from outside the form.
At the Urban Inspiration screening we got a visual insight into the type of films that influence dance-film creator Gianni Grot. Who was the recipient of the Dioraphte Jury Award for his first dance film Farm of Memories at last years Cinedans Festival. During this Q&A I asked Gianni Grot what he felt was needed in order to attract more Hip Hop creatives to create more contextual screendance work. He suggested that maybe it was a marketing issue and that Cinedans should think about how they market and attract to a wider audience other than just people in the contemporary dance culture. Which I can agree with somewhat but how to do that is a equation for Cinedans to solve.
However, with all of this said, I was overjoyed at the juicy percentage of urban films both in this selection and other Cinedans screenings in fact, that I’m doing a separate top 3 countdown on the urban dance-films shown at the festival! YAY!
So, here we go:
TERRA AND EDDIE
THUS DANCED ZARATHUSTRA
Before I give my run down of my top 5 films at Cinedans, I would just like to give a mention to an installation that I found myself drawn to each day of the festival:
I’m not sure what it was about it, I think it felt as if it directly spoke to me or at least correlated with how I personally and professionally felt as a creative artist at the time. Finding myself almost in tears on certain days to feeling almost galvanised to keep going. If you ever get a chance to see it you’ll understand what I mean. It’s literally a woman continuously trying to move forwards on a steep slope that has been tilted to give the effect of the path seem horizontal. So as she climbs she inevitably falls with gravity, which kept me engaged for far longer than was normal haha.
Anyways, to finish up here are my top 5 films watched at Cinedans:
NOWNESS – PORTRAIT OF A DANCER
I can’t explain how excited I was to be a part of this festival and to have one of The Motion Dance Collective’s very own films, END OF THE BLOCK, invited by the amazing Marion Poeth to be screened for its Netherland Première. I am forever grateful to have been a part of it and I look forward to returning once again to what was an extraordinary experience.
Honoured, happy, inspired and filled with a bubbling determination to continue my practice of dance on screen.
Thanks for reading!