Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the third year now, Kannon Dance School and ProArte institute are hosting The St. Petersburg International Film Festival "KINODANCE". It has been an honor working in collaboration with Deirdre Towers of Dance Films Association (New York) to curate an exciting mix of programs featuring dance film/video works from around the world – the United States, United Kingdom, Argentina, Switzerland, France, Nigeria, Austria, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, and Slovenia.

Dance film encompasses a variety of collaborative approaches ranging from the mere documentation of a dance performance, to adaptation of stage choreography, and the creation of the choreography especially for the camera – from music videos and poetic shorts to full length features that make dance their main character.

The history of this genre traces back to the birth of the cinematograph and its landmarks and key figures include Thomas Edison’s films with Ruth St. Dennis (1894); experiments of the French film magician Georges Méliès (1903); Louis Lumière’s films with Loie Fuller; the era of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton; dadaist experiments in the 1920s including “Ballet Mécanique” (1924) by Fernand Léger and “Entr’acte” by René Clair; the golden age of Hollywood musicals with Fred Astaire and later on with Gene Kelly; “A study of Choreography for the Camera” by Maya Deren; “The Red Shoes”, a British feature by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger that included ballet created specifically for the camera; a wave within the American Avant-Garde Film and Performance Art Tradition (Shirley Clarke, Ed Emshwiller, Hillary Harris, Jonas Mekas, Henry Hills, Amy Greenfield, Elaine Summers, Yvonne Rainer, Meredith Monk); dance creations for television by Swedish Birgit Cullberg and producer Måns Reuterswärd in the 1960s-80s; “Dance in America Series” on the PBS, “Dance for the Camera Series” on the BBC and Dutch Television (David Hinton, Wendy Houston, DV8, Margaret Williams); Belgian dance film collaborations of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Thierry De Mey, Clara Van Gool, Wim Vanderkeybus; French Philippe Decouflé; Swiss Pascal Magnin; Canadian Laura Taler, and many others.

This year’s six programs aim to demonstrate the array of possibilities offered by dance film/video collaborations and to introduce Russian audiences to some of the different directions the hybrid genre of dance film navigates as well as at allowing a glimpse into the creative process of making dance films.

The program “Dance Stories” includes films where dance and film come together to reveal a narrative story. The films featured include a tale about Dædalus and Icarus in “Fly” by Shana McCullagh from New Zealand; a portrait of the lonely demented aristocrat possessed by long-repressed memories of an opulent Germany before the third Reich in “Duchess” by Eric Koziol the USA; a riveting story of the Isle of Tears in “Ellis Island” by Meredith Monk; a poetic journey dealing with the aftermath of World War Two in Laura Taler’s “Village Trilogy”, a light-hearted playful vignette “Le Petit Bal” by Philippe Decouflé from France, and a surreal arabesque about Swiss rural life in “Reine d’un Jour” by Pascal Magnin.

A young girl dreams of becoming a dancer in the stop-motion “Minou” shot by Magali Charrier on super-8mm film; “glamorous and aging dancer” is entrapped within “Motion Control” by David Anderson; a lonely character stuck in the corner dances to a looped recording of Maria Callas in “Cornered” by Michael Downing; Sally Silvers navigates the struggles and celebrations of the Weimar era in “Little Lieutenant” by Henry Hills; “Hyperalarm Dance” by Michael Cole features an electronic super-dancer; a ghost dancer that multiplies itself performs as three-dimensional drawings in Kaiser’s “Ghostcatching” – these and other characters all appear in the program “Almost Solo”. This program is a multi-colored palette of works that are either structured around a single protagonist, created by a single artist who is both a filmmaker and a choreographer/dancer, or determined by a single concept.

The title of the program “Body Tales from around the world...” speaks for itself. Each film in this group is unique to the place/ country/ culture that it was made in or about. The program starts with a collection of extremely short dance films produced by The Place, a performance center in London, that encourages the production of zero to low budget short films. Following this is a visual Butoh essay “Curtain of the Eyes” by Daniéle Wilmouth, a result of the artist’s residency in Japan, which focuses on the kinetic life of the body. A duet of the French filmmaker Benoit Dervaux and Algerian choreographer Heddy Maalem culminates in “Black Spring”, a work that questions the clichéd Western ways of looking at African bodies in motion. A voice from South America is represented by Silvina Szperling’s “Temblor” - a feminine world moving to the beat of the drums. Made in 1993, the film gave birth to the Argentinean tradition of videodance. And finally, “Dom Svobode” by Saso Podgorsek and Iztok Kovac from Slovenia, a surreal mélange of memories from the Socialist world, is about an eternal quest of the artist for space to create.

Among other festival programs are an evening with Victoria Marks, a California-based choreographer and a dance teacher, who, together with Margaret Williams, a British filmmaker, has created dance films that are among the most awarded dance films in the genre’s history.

The two programs at the Theatre Museum will conclude the festival in St. Petersburg. “Two in the Director’s Chair” reveals the mysteries of the twenty-year collaboration between Belgian Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, one of the most prominent modern European choreographers, and Thierry De Mey, a film director and composer. Their creation “Rosas Danst Rosas”, one of the most significant dance films to date, will be accompanied by “Dance Notes”, a documentary by Michael Follin about the collaboration of the two masters. Finally, to honor Maya Deren and introduce our audiences to her legacy, we present a program that features “In The Mirror of Maya Deren”, a documentary by Martina Kuldaácek. This film uses footage from Deren’s mesmerizing films along with archival audio interviews from her contemporaries to provide a glimpse into life of this reminiscent and influential artist and creates a vivid portrait of the times she lived through.

I would like to sincerely thank Deirdre Towers, my collaborator in putting together this festival and director of Dance Films Association (DFA), New York City. Founded in 1956 by Susan Braun, DFA is a non-profit organization founded to promote excellence in the merging of dance and film and to act as a liaison between the maker and the user of dance films.

The festival was made possible with grants from Trust for Mutual Understanding, ProArte Institute, and the collaboration of Dance Films Association, Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts, to whom we are tremendously grateful.

And finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Kannon Dance, our welcoming and dedicated host, and personally to Vadim Kasparov, director of Kannon Dance and to Anna Tarysheva, our devoted interpreter and translator.

Enjoy the program,

Alla Kovgan
Festival Programmer


© Kinodance–Russia, 2004