Curator’s note:
Every time I curate a new KINODANCE program, I redefine and rediscover cine-dance, looking for its traces in both different film genres and at the crossroads of the art of motion pictures (whether cinema, video art or even gallery installations) and other art forms. Curating a festival is similar to making a film, only in the KINODANCE case the subject matter stays always the same – it is about magnificent aspects of choreography on screen – choreography as an art of orchestrating action in space and time. So here are the “episodes” of KINODANCE 2006 in St. Petersburg:

Dance Film Collaboration
(Films, performance, installation by Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie (UK))

Dance Film History
(Gene Kelly (American Hollywood Cinema) and Ed Emshwiller (American Avante-Garde Cinema))

Dance Film Artist in Focus
(David Hinton (UK) and Charles Atlas (USA))

Beyond the Stage
(David LaChapelle’s “RIZE” with krumping from the streets of Los Angeles)

From the Festivals Around the World (some of the best dance films from recent festivals – including Wim Wandekeybus’ “Blush” and William
Forsythe/Thierry De Mey collaboration “One Flat Thing Reproduced”)

Performance Art in Motion
(Marina Abramovic and Meredith Monk)

Film as a Plastic Art: Canvas in Motion
(a collage of mesmerizing visual dances from animation to video art)

Choreography: Music Video (a collection of 19 spectacularly
choreographed music videos from 9 countries

All Time Favorites (dance film classics of the popular audience’s demand including Peter Greenaway’s “Rosa”, DV8’s “Cost of Living" and others)

This year’s KINODANCE is composed of 15 programs of over 60 films by artists from 23 countries (UK, USA, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Nigeria, Slovenia, Australia, Canada, Poland, Italy, Japan, Uruguay, Denmark, Mexico as well as Romania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Georgia, Armenia, Estonia and Hungary). The festival will take place at Dom Kino, British Council, and ProArte Institute in St. Petersburg; in Aktoviy Zal of TSEKH Dance Agency in Moscow and at the Center for Contemporary Art in Ekaterinburg. For the second time, KINODANCE will hold a Dance Film Competition for works created by artists from Eastern Europe, Baltic States and the CIS (click regulations for more info). The winner will be announced at the closing ceremony.

With gracious support from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, KINODANCE is thrilled to welcome Charles Atlas (USA), a maverick filmmaker from New York who over his prolific life has created over 100 films and, for over 10 years, collaborated with legendary modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham. Charles Atlas will be teaching a two day master class at ProArte Institute (check the schedule for details).

It is for the first time that KINODANCE is collaborating with the British Council, one of the key partners of the festival in St. Petersburg this year. The British Council made it possible for KINODANCE to host three British artists - David Hinton, Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie. Thanks to the British Council, for the very first time, in addition to film programs, KINODANCE is also presenting a dance installation “MAN IN THE WALL” by Aggiss and Cowie.

The Opening Program of the festival as always offers an eclectic selection of shorts and excerpts from the past and upcoming screenings. The program will also include some films familiar to the Russian audience such as excerpts from Sergei Parajanov’s films as remarkable examples of choreography for the camera. Without a doubt, Parajanov was one the greatest film choreographers of all times.

«Program 1: 20 years of collaboration, Liz Aggiss and Billy Cowie» is an evening with two splendid artists- composer/filmmaker Billy Cowie and choreographer/performer/ interdisciplinary artist Liz Aggiss from Brighton, England. The evening includes a provocative and full of humor dance “lecture”-performance that is based on the experimental and fictional dancer Heidi Dhinkowska (also known as Hi Jinx) who, according to Liz and Billy, is also the foremother of “cine-dance” genre. The creative couple will also show and discuss their four award-winning films – the spectacular “Motion Control” (2003), “Anarchic Variation” (2002), “Break” (2005) and my personal favorite “Beethoven in Love” (1994).

As mentioned above, Liz and Billy will also present “Man in the Wall”, a four-screen 3-dimensional stereoscopic screen dance installation at ProArte Institute (St. Petersburg). Special stereoscopic glasses are provided to watch this 3D world of four men, whose shared, framed lives reveal a public quartet of private differences.

«Program 2 and 3: Dance Film Artist in Focus» are two evenings with David Hinton. David is one of the most celebrated directors working in dance film today. He is known to the Russian audiences for his award-winning, controversial and challenging films with DV8 Physical Theatre «Dead Dreams of the Monochrome Man» and «Strange Fish». Both of these films along with several shorts «BIRDS» (2000), «TOUCHED» (1994), «SNOW» (2003) became part of David's evenings at KINODANCE. David Hinton is also a founder of Dance Film Academy in London – one of the very first academic institutions dedicated specifically to dance film collaborations. During KINODANCE, David will be also be teaching an 8-day dance film workshop for filmmakers and choreographers in St. Petersburg).

«Program 4: Dance Legends: Merce Cunningham» and «Program 5: Dance Film Artist in Focus: Charlie Atlas» are two evenings with Charles Atlas. Throughout his over 30-year career, Charles Atlas has made pioneering media/dance works, multi-channel video installations, feature-length documentaries, video art works for television, and live electronic performances. His works oftentimes are challenging the “standard” in relation to both content and technology. Besides Charles’ collaborations with Merce Cunningham, Charles has worked with many remarkableartists of his time –

Michael Clark (Scotland), Karole Armitage (New York), Douglas Dunn (New Zealand), Phillippe Decoufle (France), Mikhail Baryshnikov (USA) among others. He is the 2006 recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Art’s biennial John Cage Award and of three “Bessie” (New York Dance and Performance) Awards. Program 4: Dance Legends: Merce Cunningham is at House of Cinema includes “Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime in Dance”, a feature documentary – both personal and historic portrait of the master. "Program 5: Dance Film Artist in Focus" is the second evening with Charles at ProArte. At ProArte, Charles Atlas will discuss and screen numerous excerpts from films and videos that he created throughout his prolific career. “As seen on TV” (25min, 1988, USA) with the world renowned 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.

«Program 6: Beyond the Stage: RIZE by David LaChapelle (2005)» is the very occasion to glimpse in to the world of krumping. David LaChappelle reveals a groundbreaking dance phenomenon that’s exploding on the streets of South Central, Los Angeles. Taking advantage of unprecedented access, this documentary film brings to first light a revolutionary form of artistic expression borne from oppression. The kids use dance as an alternative to gangs and hustling: they form their own troupes and paint their faces like warriors, meeting to outperform rival gangs of dancers or just to hone their skills. “Clowning” or “Krumping” becomes their way of life. The film features mind-blowing, athletic movement performed at near impossible speeds – “a visual miracle” (Rolling Stones Magazine).

Traditionally, KINODANCE presents several programs on dance film history. The two historic programs this year reveal entirely opposite worlds of dance and film collaborations – the one of Hollywood with the «Program 7: Gene Kelly» and the other of American avant-garde cinema with the «Program 11: Ed Emshwiller». If Gene Kelly does not need a special introduction to the Russian audience, as there is probably not a single person unfamiliar with his stunning musical “Singing in the Rain”, the name of Edmund Alexander Emshwiller (1925-1990) will puzzle even Russian cinema connoisseurs. Ed Emshwiller, named by Jonas Mekas “a madman who wants to become a camera” began as a science fiction illustrator and a painter and later turned into a filmmaker, a cine-choreographer, an intermedia artist, a teacher, and an advocate of avant-garde cinema! Emshwiller’s creative talent and devotion reflected in everything he did in life. Most all of his personal films (except for “Relativity”) Emshwiller financed himself, by working as a director of photography on many commercial productions. He was such a desired cameraman that Stanley Kubrik invited him to work on “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Emshwiller declined the offer as he had commitments to his personal work at the time. He loved, however, to collaborate with different artists. “Emsh” worked with Alwin Nikolais (films “Totem” (1963) and “Chrysalis” (1973)) and Pilobolus dance company (film “Pilobolus and Joan” (1973) and also took part in multimedia Happenings of the 1960s. He was one of the first artists (along with Trisha Brown) who brought on stage and mobilized the film projector. Dancers physically manipulated the projectors and treated them as partners during the stage performances. Multiple projections and physical layering of images in real time (as opposed to post-production) became signature in his work. One of Emshwiller’s most successful multimedia performances is considered “Body Works” (1965-66) where he used 5 projectors, 3 of which were directed at dancers in white. The KINODANCE program dedicated to Ed Emshwiller includes 6 films that will be all shown on 16mm – “Dance Chromatic” (1959), “Lifelines” (1960), “Thanatopsis” (1962), “Totem” (1963), “Film With Three Dancers” (1970) and “Relativity” (1966). I would like to thank Christiana Galanopoulou, curator of Videodance Greece Festival, for co-curating this program with me.

«Program 7: Gene Kelly» includes a documentary “Gene Kelly: Anatomy of a Dancer” by Robert Trachtenberg. The film is both an intimate and historic look into the professional and personal life of the visionary artist who revived the movie musical and redefined dance on screen, bringing with him an inspired sensibility and an original vitality. Kelly’s story is told with great visual retrospective, the still familiar music and through colleagues and protégés such as Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charrise, Leslie Caron and Betsy Blair, his first wife, and their children.

«Program 8: Performance Art in Motion» is an attempt to bridge between cine-dance and performance art – to bring forth body language, gestural expression, and acts of body ritual. The program features two films wherein performance artists Meredith Monk (born in Peru, living in New York) and Marina Abramovic (born in Yugoslavia, living in Europe) are the ones to either shape the film (Meredith Monk) or transcend film’s story (Marina Abramovic) . “Book of Days” by Meredith Monk (who is also a world-renown composer featured in Peter Greenaway “Four American Composers” series) draws parallels between the Middle Ages – a time of war, plague and fear of the Apocalypse, with our modern times of racial and religious conflict, AIDs, and the fear of nuclear annihilation. It is a choreographic essay written through the pedestrian movement of its characters, their voices and their stories.
“Balkan Baroque” by Pierre Coulebeuff is an experimental fiction – both real and imaginary world of Marina Abramovic, a world-renown body artist. The film composes the life aesthetic of a woman in her era, with a personal history strongly marked by the Yugoslavia of Tito, everyday violence and the experience of physical and psychic limits. The film jumps from one identity to another, from a true story to an imagination, from a dream to a ritual – the language of the body often taking over from the word, interrupting it or, on the contrary, stimulating it.

«Program 9 and 10: From the Festivals Around the World» includesrecent works from all over the world. Among films in Program 9 – an intense short from Canada “Hunt” (2005) by Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer – exploration of the hunter’s anatomy and of the transformation that occurs inside - calmness, pressure, extreme tension, consequence of the hunt“; Wim Vandekeybus’ “Blush” (2005, Belgium) – premiered at Cannes Festival, this film a dazzling voyage, an exploration of the savage subconscious, of mythical forests, of conflicting instincts, of imagination, where the body has reasons unknown to the mind; and “Love Sonnets” by Thierry and Michèle De Mey (Belgium), although from far 1993, this film, never seen in Russia, remains a true screen choreography masterpiece wherein words are swapped for movement in tune with Scarlatti’s sonatas for harpsichord and traditional aria from Southern Italy.

Program 10 includes: "Break” (2005, New Zealand) – a new dance narrative piece by Shona McCullagh (known to the Russian audience that saw her exquisite short “Fly” and perhaps, her choreography for such films as «The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe» and «King Kong»); En-Knap’s “What are you going to do when you get out here?” (Slovenia, 2005) is yet another poetic reincarnation (after “Dom Svobode”) of the working-class town of Trbovlje, a hometown of En-Knap’s choreographer Iztok Kovac and the main source of his inspiration. Athletic dance, moody light, and actor’s lines choreograph the film into a coherent stream of consciousness that amalgamates past and present into one; William Forsythe’s and Thierry De Mey’s “One Flat Thing Reproduced” (2006) – an adaptation of Forsythe’s stage piece – an aesthetical beauty of shapes, intensity of the movements and closeness to the dancers. This new experience offers to the audience the possibility of receiving this creation in a completely different way, outside of a theatre.

«Program 12: All Time Favorites» – a collection of classic dance films that have captivated the audiences at past KINODANCE festivals. Among the films are last festival’s hit, a witty black comedy “Cost of Living” (2004) by Lloyd Newson and DV8 from UK starring magnificent David Tole; Peter Greenaway’s and Anna Theresa De Keersmaeker’s “Rosa” (1992) wherein elegance is mixed with aggressive décor; “Black Spring” (2002) by Benoit Dervaux and Heddy Maalem (France/Nigeria), winner of the Best Choreography for the Camera Award at the New York Dance on Camera Festival 2003, this film questions our way of looking at African bodies in movement – the choreography interspersed with scenes of contemporary life in Africa, highlights both the political and emotional sensitivities of modern African dance; Shona McCullagh’s “Fly” from New Zealand, a kinetic short, loosely based on the ancient story of Daedalus and Icarus, describes through the language of movement, the final moments before separation; Iztok Kovac’s and Saso Podgorsek’s “Dom Svobode” about the town of Trbovlje in Slovenia contains some of the best dance film choreography in the final breathtaking dance sequence on the mountains.

If you look at running pedestrians or dancers on a rainy day through a fogged window, you would not recognize people blurred by the rain and the distance but you would clearly distinguish the trajectory of their movement. Animated shorts and video art pieces (that span from 1972 – 2005) in «Program 13: Film as a Plastic Art» create movement and evoke dance-like feelings (at times, without presence of the actual dancers) through a variety of techniques – from traditional animation to morphing technologies. Erica Russell’s Oscar-nominated, breathtaking “Triangle” (1994) from UK expresses the passions of young lovers and another woman through a dazzling frenzy of paint strokes ranging from classical drawing to pure abstraction. The other of Russell’s animated shorts in the program is “Soma”. Inspired by street dance styles, graffiti art and the paintings of New York artist Basquiat, this film is about the fragmentation of identity and body image in the chaos of the post-modern urban culture. Rybchinsky’s “Kwadrat” made 12 years earlier echoes Russell’s “Triangle”. It is ultimately a loop wherein a human figure is slowly generated from a white square, colored and decomposed in space, generating in turn other squares, which reunite, retransforming themselves into the original white square. The other Oscar nominated film in the program is the notorious “Tango” by Zbigniew Rybchinsky (1980, Poland) – a stunning use of cinema language to collapse time and space. Thirty-six characters from different stages of life interact in one room, moving in loops, observed by a static camera. Rybchinsky drew 16,000 cell-mattes, and make several hundred thousand exposures on an optical printer. Similarly elaborate and kinetic is the black and white “La Piccola Russia” (2004), a winner of the Best Narrative Award at Ottawa Animation Film Festival.The film made it into to the festival thanks to the generous support of TTV Festival (Riccione, Italy). It is by the renowned Italian animator Gianluigi Toccafondo who captures still frames from the shot material, xeroxes them on paper, paints on them and then re-shoots them on film. The result is a multi-layered dance of paint and print strokes. The film is also a narrative that traces the life of a young boy who grows up to be a murderer. The two video art pieces from Gina Czarnecki (UK) are “Infected” (2003) and “Nascent” (2005). Both digitally manipulate the images of the dancer(s) and explore the nature of the physical body in the technological age. “Nascent” morphs multiple dancers in motion reminiscent of Henry Matisse’s “Dance”. The image processing creates new traces of movement that appear as blips in transmission or digital ‘vibrations’ where the body and its image tune-in, momentarily, then become ‘unplugged’ leaving behind traces of skin-print as after-images. The final film in the program, is "Ma Mère l’Oye” (2004) – yet another exciting dance film from Thierry De Mey and Anna Theresa De Keersmaeker (Belgium). The film, inspired by Charles Perrault’s famous fairy tales, segments the screen into multiples, choreographing the dance in each one of them and between them according to the musical motifs and orchestral moods of the ballet by Maurice Ravel.

«Program 14: Choreography: Music Video» bridges between choreography and music video. It is a diverse set of 19 spectacularly choreographed music video from 9 countries that as a whole probably represent all possible formal concepts and techniques of the dance film genre and choreography in cinema. Split screens choreograph hands playing musical instruments in Rupert Jones’ “100mph” by El Presedente (UK). In “Let Forever Be” by Chemical Brothers, Michel Gondry (US) pays tribute to Busby Berkley, creating a dream sequence of a young woman wherein seven identical dancers morph among each other and with environments they encounter. The security guards burst into a krumping-like movement in Futureshock’s “Late at Night” (Japan/UK) while through exquisite, kinetic editing, a basketball dances in the streets of Budapest in Chemical Borthers’ “The Boxer”. Both videos are by NE-O (i.e. Jake Knight and Ryoko Tanaka) based in UK. The krumping session is also the center of Chemical Brother’s “Galvinize” by Adam Smith (UK) wherein a trio of young dance enthusiasts creeps past sleeping parents and out onto the dance floor.

Other intense and disturbing works come from the UK – Unkle’s “Rabbit in Your Headlights” by Jonathan Glazer who choreographs cars to continuously kill the man in the underpass; and Leftfield’s “Africa Shox” by Chris Cunningham wherein an African man runs through the streets of New York city losing parts of his body while Afrika Bambaataa is chanting "The world is on fire / It'll take you higher." The program includes three videos from Spike Jonze (USA): Wax’s “California” (a mesmerizing long take of a man on fire, running along a city street); The Pharcyde’s “Drop” (a virtuosic trick when the group performed the video’s actions entirely in reverse, even saying the lyrics backwards so when the video was played forward, they and their mouths move forward while their surroundings move in reverse – brilliant screen choreography!), and finally Björk’s “It's Oh So Quiet” (yet another homage to Busby Berkley and perhaps, to “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” by Jacques Demy).

Yuki’s “Sentimental Journey” by Nagi Noda from Japan is a stop-motion piece that choreographs freeze-frames in motion of 100 YUKI-looking people. The piece is truly in the spirit of Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), an eccentric photographer who gained worldwide fame photographing animal and human movement imperceptible to the human eye. Carpark North’s “Human” by Martin de Thurah (Denmark) depicts the emotions of 10-12 year old kids who convey both fragility and strength dancing and performing some impossible moves. Chemical Brothers’ “Get Yourself High” is an old kung-fu flick masterfully re-choreographed by Joseph Khan (US) into a rap dance.

“Montovedioaki” by Octavio Iturbe (Spain), a winner of many dance film festivals around the world, features Hiraki Umeda, a Japanese choreographer and a dancer, whose fluid movements clash with the urban landscape of Montevideo (Uruguay). Mariana Arteaga’s “Exile” from Mexico bridges into the world of performance art, exploring the relationships between the woman and the environment. Bjork’s “All is Full of Love” and Squarepusher’s “Come on My Selector” by Chris Cunningham (UK) are examples of choreographed narrative. In Bjork’s case it is a delicate and elegant dance of love between two Björk-looking robots designed by Cunningham himself. “Come on My Selector” is a tightly edited short episode in a Japanese childrens’ mental hospital that brings together a little girl who is a martial arts master, a dog and two guards.

Elements of booty, bling, kung fu, air guitar and almost every dance form known went into the mix of “Theatre of Speed vs BOZ’n’HOK” by Back To Back Theatre, a pioneering Australian contemporary theatre company based in Geelong, Australia. The grand finale of the program is Phoenix Foundation’s “Hitchcock” by Reuben Sutherland (New Zealand) wherein electric cars clash with their gas opponents in a road rage – they turn, fly, and pirouette, reminiscent of fights in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

For the second time, KINODANCE will hold a Dance Film Competition for works created by artists from Eastern Europe, Baltic States and the CIS. The jury of Charles Atlas, David Hinton, Elena Kolovskaya (ProArte Institute), Natalia Kasparova and myself will nominate 8-10 films out of the submissions from Georgia, Armenia, Estonia, Russia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries. These films will be shown at the Closing Ceremony of the festival on November 17 in St. Petersburg. The winner will be also announced then.

I hope that you come to enjoy the festival,

Alla Kovgan
International Director and Curator
KINODANCE, St. Petersburg

** Please note, that Ekaterinburg and Moscow programs are a little bit different, check schedule for the line-up

© Kinodance–Russia, 2006