One Dance UK: Choreographers Conference 2017 | The Motion Dance Collective Screendance Workshop

Hosted by Omari ‘Motion’ Carter | Assisted by Anna Clifford & Just Josh

TWISTED INTRODUCTIONS: With a need for more hands on workshops in the UK right now, this MDC screendance workshop was geared towards the more practical side of screendance. To begin, I invited the attendees to participate in a group warm up with a twist. Each artist would step forward and verbally introduce themselves (who they are, what they do, why they were interested in this workshop), however, they had to do so straight in the eye of the camera lens – with an external tv monitor projected what was being captured to everyone else. This was done to enable everyone else to copy the movements of the speaker, resulting in a group warm up/introduction.

Here’s a little snippit of that for your viewing pleasure. Once again, it was such a pleasure to have such a diverse group of people join us at the Choreographer’s Conference 2017:

“Screendance is the purposeful orchestration of:

  • the motion in front of the camera
  • the motion of the camera
  • and the motion of the edit.”

                                                        Omari ‘Motion’ Carter

Next  with my absolute favourite game , which was first presented to me by Katrina McPherson in the Screendance Lab @ Lightmoves Dance on Screen Festival 2014. The game is entitled, Eyes Open Eyes Shut.

NOTE: I wont go to into the details of the game itself but from the footage below I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. However, what I would like to highlight is why I think it’s really important for participants of any dance on screen workshop/lab to play a game like Katrina’s and why it allowed me to open my field of vision when it came to understanding filmmaking from three different perspectives: The camera operator’s, the camera’s and the performer’s perspective. Through playing this game, participants start to treat the camera in a different way, not just as an object that captures but as another person who has opinions, reactions and feelings. We could perhaps replace the camera with the target audience of our film, allowing us to keep focused, during the production process, on how the camera views the material in front of it. I think I will delve into the awesomeness of this game at another time. But Katrina McPherson! What a beautiful invention.

THE AIM OF THE GAME IS TO STAY IN THE FRAME: This game was a short experiment that was created merely to introduce participants to different lenses and focal lengths. I had gotten the idea from a screening at a film festival, where dancers followed a camera on a tripod as it panned from left to right; staying in the frame and starring straight down the barrel of the lens.

With this concept as my inspiration, I switched the lenses on my camera body and exclaimed: “The aim of the game is to stay in the frame!”, at which point I would start to pan the camera left and right. The choreographers, with a tv monitor emitting the camera’s image to them, were tasked with insuring that they stay inside the framing of that particular lens. This helped them to not only understand how much they would need to distance themselves from each lens to be in frame, but also taught them how each lens changed the perspective of the viewer.

Below is a little video of the choreographers staying in frame with different lens configurations, I’ve done it in split screen just so you can see the difference that each focal lengths can have on the tone of the picture and even the shape of the body. Can you notice the difference (sorry in advance for the lack of focus of some of the shots, this was all done in experimental haste.)


Our final exercises found our choreographers going out of the studio and into the nooks and crannies of Trinity Laban; creating pieces of their own. Combining shot types with camera movement to fuel the choreography in front of the camera. It allowed everyone to get a chance to put their new found skills to practice, alongside fixed framing and specific camera choreography (‘cinematography’ for the filmic).

Now, this particular workshop did have a focus on pre-production and production and not post-production – editing, colouring and so forth. This was due to time restraints as there’s only so much that’s possible in 3 hours. However, I invited everyone to create a speedy mood board: 10 mins to write down, draw and/or storyboard the potential context, locations, costumes etc. that they could envisage in this film.

‘Is there an order of the shots captured, that makes sense?’ was another question that was proposed.

Ever so speedily running out of time, I invited everybody to upload their footage onto a shared dropbox folder for participants to use as open-source editing material. Check out the edit below from Choreographer, Adrian Look.

I would like to thank everyone who took part in this wonderful 3 hour exploration of screendance. I would like to also say a big thank you to One Dance UK for giving The MDC the opportunity to facilitate a playful and practical workshop at the Choreographers Conference 2017. And a big special thanks to my team Anna Clifford and Just Josh for assisting me in the production of such an epic workshop. So to conclude, I give you the video recap of one of our favourite workshops ever:

Filmed by Just Josh | Edited by Omari ‘Motion’ Carter

Until next time…


Omari ‘Motion’ Carter | Founder & Creative Director

The Motion Dance Collective 2017

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