By Nancy G. Heller
26 September 2020
Lucky for the rest of us, artists are unstoppable. In the face of seemingly insurmountable COVID-19-related restrictions, dancers have been working with filmmakers for the past six months to find exciting new ways to continue creating and sharing their creations. Thus, we can look forward to a surprisingly robust fall 2020 dance season, even as we are looking from home.
Two extraordinary, and very different, highlights of this season are available right now, online: The Philadelphia Matter, 1972/2020 by New York-based modern dance pioneer David Gordon (through Oct. 4, details at fringearts.com) and the first installment of BalletX Beyond (ongoing at balletx.org), an all-digital subscription series from the local contemporary ballet troupe.
In Gordon’s hour-long film, he collaborates with his longtime professional and life partner, British dancer Valda Setterfield, plus videographer Jorge Cousineau, to create a rich visual and aural collage, with images assembled into an ever-changing patchwork of various-sized rectangles that cover the screen — like a Zoom meeting gone berserk.
It centers on three of his signature pieces: Song and Dance (inspired by Gordon’s childhood love of Hollywood musicals), Up Close (an intimate, loving, and ultimately devastating duet made for him and his wife), and Chair (which evolved from the carefully calibrated exercises Gordon invented to help his wife recover from a terrible injury).
But the film also invites viewers to deeply explore some of the most basic questions related to dance on film: What are the differences between the filmed performance of a dance that was originally conceived for live theater and dance that was always intended to form part of a film? How about dance “numbers” in movie musicals?
Read the full article here.