At the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen an increase in streaming services. Together, we turned to Netflix and YouTube to consume media. Likewise, performers and artists around the world have turned to digital platforms to express their art. Theaters started showing recorded performances, artists organized digital concerts. Across the world, particularly locked out dance artists have started experimenting with the camera, discovering new potentials for themselves and their work.
While the pandemic has certainly accelerated this, the expression of art and performance through digital means has quickly taken center stage in recent years. Think about the choreography of Sia’s “Chandelier”, In the 2019 movie âThe Joker or the last episode of the BBC / Netflix crime dramaâ Giri / Haji â, why do they stand out? The answer is simple: they have been specially choreographed for consumption by an on-screen audience.
This constitutes the building blocks of screendance, the practice of filming dance specifically for visual consumption. “Screendance is a dance specially designed for the camera or the screen where the choreography and the practice of the screen reside together” explains Liz Aggiss, esteemed dance artist, choreographer and dance filmmaker. As such, the process of making a dance film differs greatly from choreographed performances for a live audience. Unlike filmed theater, it does not intend to substitute for live performances, and it would not have more effect on an audience if it was experienced in person. âIt’s about inventing a language of movement that can only exist on and for the screen,â says Aggiss.
London School of Contemporary Dance, The Place (LCDS) is one of the few institutions taking active steps to train dynamic and versatile individuals capable of adapting to the ever-changing world of dance. Located in the heart of London, LCDS draws on the wealth of the city’s visionary artists to fuel their MA Screendance Classes. As the only course of its kind in the world, the MA Screendance focuses on the study of the relationship between the moving body and the camera. It attracts innovative artists from all over the world to engage in a specialized but constantly evolving field.
The course introduces students to the techniques and practices underlying the making of dance films. Students learn the practical elements of filmmaking and attend technical workshops on editing, cinematography and sound. Theoretical knowledge provides the foundation for practical work, with students exploring stories in cinema and examining current contexts such as dance in social media. “What is good about the course is that we learn film theory, dance theory and dance theory from cinema” shares student Omari Carter. “It allows us to watch things that we wouldn’t necessarily watch if we were just studying dance.”
Because of this multi-faceted focus, LCDS students immerse themselves in the movement of the camera, subject, and the editing process to create a unique visual experience. The 15-month course requires students to reflect on how their work interacts with the world, while being coached by some of the most influential artists and academics in the field. A result of this? A community of supportive and creative individuals who are constantly learning from each other’s ideas, interests, skills and artistic practice.
The practice-led course welcomes students from different backgrounds with an interest in dance cinema, be it media, visual arts, performance, dance, photography or film. Consider student Emily Romain, who previously studied the classics at Oxford. âThe course is very individualized, with a lot of academic support, and we support each other quite a bit as a class,â Romain shares. âMy technical knowledge was limited, so I learned a lot about it – I’m not afraid of a camera anymore! ” she laughs.
More than that, over 40% of LCDS’s student body is international, making it a diverse community of artists who bring their own experiences. This is enhanced by the possibility of living in London, one of the richest and most culturally diverse cities in the world. Students are constantly surrounded by the arts, visiting one of the city’s many theaters, exhibitions or showcases on weekends. It’s a creative and rewarding feedback loop that’s sure to inspire any budding artist.
Then there is The place, the exciting cultural center where LCDS is located. It is home to a 280-seat professional theater, an active production house, and a plethora of classes, classes, and opportunities for aspiring and professional artists. The theater hosts over 200 performances per year, with a history of having developed some of the UK’s most distinguished choreographers. Take a look at Upcoming shows and events at The Place for the season.
Ready for the next step? Apply for a place in the MA Screendance course Where visit the London Contemporary Dance School website.