These days, artists are constantly experimenting with hybridized art forms that blur the boundaries between discreet fields like film, dance, music, and fine art. Dance films – distinct from live performance and documentary film – offer a new way to experience the nexus of music, movement, and fine art.
Disco, the new piece by Composer and Producer Ralf Hildenbeutel and Director Boris Seewald, is a beautiful example of the possibilities of dance film. These two artists have collaborated a number of times, notably on their award winning short film Momentum, but Disco is unique in its fusion of traditional fine art, film, and dance.
With everything going artisanal lately, Disco is described as a “hand-made music video”. It was created with an animation technique called Rotoscoping for which a projector or transparencies are used to translate live video into hand-drawn animation. Roto animation is what makes the light sabers glow in the original Star Wars films (sorry, they’re not real) and it’s also been used in plenty of Disney films. More recently, it’s been used to preserve the gestural quality of hand-drawn pictures in animation, lending a rawness and unpolished intimacy to the images on screen.
For Disco, the director Boris Seewald used rotoscoping to transform the movements of dancers Althea Corlett and Simone Schmidt into a continuous series of approximately 1,250 drawings and paintings on paper. The drawings and paintings of each frame were created with a variety of media (ink, watercolor, charcoal, etc) and the lines which define the dancers’ bodies and faces shift constantly. Many frames contain splatters of ink or paint which accentuate the rhythm of the music and sometimes operate as lines of energy – extending from fingertips to express the effort masked by the dancers’ placid expressions. Their faces are enhanced by the animation, gaining a certain intensity through the sketchy lines and colors that describe them. The last quarter of the film switches from white background to black background, producing a striking visual contrast that reflects a tonal shift in the music.
Disco really represents the ongoing evolution of dance films as a fruitful avenue for artistic collaboration across media. Hopefully this beautiful film is not the last that we’ll hear from these two fantastic artists.
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