Opening Program Installation Program 1   Program 2-3  Program 4-5 Program 6 Program 7 Program 8 Program 9   Program 10  Program 11 Program 12 Program 13 Program 14 Closing Ceremony

Program 4-5: Dance Film Artist in Focus: Charles Atlas
(St. Petersburg - only)

photo by Josef Astor

Charles Atlas, has been active as a filmmaker and video artist since the 1970s. Over the years he has made pioneering media/dance works, multi-channel video installations, feature-length documentaries, video art works for television, and live electronic performances. Many of Atlas’ works have been made in collaboration with choreographers/ dancers. He was filmmaker-in-residence with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1974-83, and collaborated with Cunningham to create many film/video pieces, including Blue Studio (1976) and Channels/Inserts (1981). In the 80s, Atlas created two acclaimed films commissioned by Channel Four in London, featuring the work of British choreographer Michael Clark, Hail the New Puritan (1986), and Because We Must (1989). His film Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance (2000), a 90-minute international co-production for television, won a “best documentary” award at Dance Screen in Monaco. His most recent dance-related pieces are Rainer Variations (2002), a video portrait of filmmaker/choreographer Yvonne Rainer and two video/dance collaborations with Merce Cunningham: Views On Camera (2005) and Views On Video (2005). Over the years, he has collaborated with numerous other performers and choreographers including James Waring, Douglas Dunn, Karole Armitage, Phillippe Decoufle, DANCENOISE, Bill Irwin, John Kelly, Diamanda Galas, and Stanley Love.

Among other works are several film and installation portraits of fashion icon Leigh Bowery (2002); video sequences about the work of the Judson Dance Theatre as part of the Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project’s PastForward (2001); multi-media performance/theater pieces including “Delusional” (1994) created in collaboration with Marina Abramovic and large-scale gallery installations – “The Hanged One” (1997), an imaginative interpretation of the a Tarot card figure (The Hanged Man) was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and featured 15 channels of video, programmed lighting, and kinetic sculptural elements.

Atlas is the 2006 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Art’s biennial John Cage Award. He is also the recipient of three “Bessie” (New York Dance and Performance) Awards, the most recent bestowed in 1998 in recognition of video collages made for “Martha @ Mother.”

Program IV: Dance Legends: Merce Cunningham
venue: DOM KINO (St. Petersburg)
see schedule for Moscow and Ekaterinburg

Merce Cunningham: A Life Time of Dance
(90min, USA, 2001)
Director: Charles Atlas

“A Lifetime of Dance” tells a story of Merce Cunningham, a visionary modern dance choreographer from the United States revealing the artist’s groundbreaking ideas on modern dance and art making. Interviews with the master, with his contemporaries including early members of Cunningham’s dance company (founded in 1953) as well as critics and historians interweave with footage of his work. John Cage, whose percussive compositions became a hallmark of the Cunningham style, is fondly recollected by troupe members and Cunningham ("John Cage was just a plain bright soul"). The film celebrates Cunningham’s genius and his continuous artistic search for innovations bringing the viewers into the 90s, when Cunningham in his 70s was once again considered radical for incorporating computer technology into choreography.

“Movement itself is the principal subject matter of his dances: neither narrative nor musical form determines their structure. His collaboration with the composer John Cage began with Cunningham's first independent choreography, in 1942, and lasted until Cage's death fifty years later. In the course of their work together they proposed a number of radical innovations. The most famous, and controversial, of these concerned the relationship of dance and music. …Famously, the dancers in Cunningham's company learn and rehearse a work in silence and often do not hear the music until the first performance, or at any rate the dress rehearsal. Other conventional elements of dance structure were also abandoned: conflict and resolution, cause and effect, climax and anti-climax. Cunningham is not interested in telling stories or exploring psychological states. This does not mean that drama is absent, but it arises from the intensity of the kinetic and theatrical experience, and the human situation on stage. Cunningham's dancers are not pretending to be anything other than themselves-as he once said, "you are not necessarily at your best, but at your most human." – David Vaughan for American Masters Series

Program V: An evening with Charles Atlas
venue: ProArte Institute

Charles Atlas will discuss and screen numerous excerpts from films and videos that he created throughout his prolific over thirty-year career. “As seen on TV” (25min, 1988, USA) with the world renown mime and comedian Bill Irwin will be shown in its entirety. Excerpts from “Parafango” (1984) (with Phillip DeCoufle, Michael Clark, Karole Armitage), “Superhoney” (1994), “Oh, Misha” (1999) (a birthday present for Mikhail Baryshnikov), “Because We Must” (1989) (with Michael Clark) and many others will be part of the program.

“As Seen on TV” (25min, 1988, USA)
Director: Charles Atlas in collaboration with Bill Irwin

In “As Seen On TV”, "new vaudevillian" performance artist Bill Irwin is the subject of a wryly comic performance narrative. Framed by the storyline of a parodic theatrical audition, Irwin plays a hapless Everyman who inadvertently becomes trapped inside a television set.
Displaying an antic physical comedy that has been likened to a contemporary rendering of Chaplin's Little Tramp, Irwin wanders, baffled, through the television space, caught in the flow of televised soap operas, commercials, sitcoms and ballets. This narrative ploy allows Irwin and Atlas to demonstrate their respective skills at constructing an ironic and inventive forum for contemporary performance. - EAI

“Parafango” (50min, 1989, USA) - excerpt
Director: Charles Atlas
Choreographer: Karole Armitage

Magnetic performances by Karole Armitage, Michael Clark and Philippe Découflé are the focus of this French production, an intricate and quintessential Atlas pastiche of provocative dance, new music, pop design and costuming, narrative, documentary, and media references. Armitage's eclectic, often frenetic choreography is performed with a postured insouciance. The kinetically shot and edited dance segments are intercut with an ambiguous narrative involving the performers, TV news footage and other appropriated images, color bars and other formal video devices. Atlas punctuates the physicality of the dance with an artificial media reality. By rupturing the performance illusion with deconstructive devices, Atlas subjects this radically postmodern dance to an inquiry into the tension between the fictive and the real. – EAI

“Superhoney” (51min, 1984, USA) - excerpt
Director: Charles Atlas, Choreographer: Thomas Hejlesen

In this futuristic danse macabre, Atlas creates a fully realized cyber-gothic world, rife with both erotic and physical danger. We follow our heroine on her travels through a world inhabited by libidinal robots, human profligates, statuesque hairdressers and a bevy of other intriguing individuals. Her stylized and blank-faced nonchalance mirror the performative passion and violence which surrounds her. In SUPERHONEY Atlas unhinges his own well-developed aesthetic in order to more fully explore the interplay between ambivalence and pleasure. - EAI

“Because we must” (50min, 1989, USA) - excerpt
Director: Charles Atlas, Choreographer: Michael Clark

In “Because We Must”, Atlas continued his collaboration with British choreographer Michael Clark, the enfant terrible of the dance world in the 1980s. Based on an original stage production at Sadlers' Wells Theatre in London, this is an ironic, irreverent work that is as entertaining as it is provocative. The extravagant stylization and burlesque humor that pervade the choreography, costuming and staging are mirrored by Atlas' focus on the theatricality of the performance and the artifice of the behind-the-scenes narrative. Clark thumbs his nose at the conventions of "serious" dance, composing outrageously unexpected and inventive scenarios that include a nude dancer wielding a chain-saw and a psychedelic interlude, all exquisitely if ironically performed. - EAI


Opening Program Installation Program 1   Program 2-3  Program 4-5 Program 6 Program 7 Program 8 Program 9   Program 10  Program 11 Program 12 Program 13 Program 14 Closing Ceremony

© Kinodance–Russia, 2006