The Projector: Spring 2004
Volume 4, Issue 2
“Dance On Film”
The path of many young girls often leads them into a pair of ballet slippers and a two-two at one point in their life. Few, myself included, actually continue on with their training. I began as a three year old, clumsy and uncoordinated; and somehow out of the magical realms of endless rehearsing and discipline I have come to be, well somewhat graceful. The time a dancer can devote to this art form is endless; the possibilities for expression are endless as well.
At Bowling Green State University, I am a student in the dance program and the Department of Theatre and Film. Yet these two worlds collided only when I began to work on this issue of The Projector. The experience opened up a world of opportunities I never had noticed before: the art of dance on film.
Dance on film has been around for a very long time, and for too long it has been understudied and underappreciated. Even when the invention of the motion picture first developed, dance was a main focus. As Sherril Dodds explains, “In addition to images of speeding trains and factory employees leaving work, early filmmakers turned to the music halls as a source of inspiration (4). In other words, to create moving pictures, filmmakers had to capture moving objects.
On April 23, 1896 the first commercial screening in the United States displayed dancers. A clip of two ladies performing a parasol dance opened audiences’ eyes to the art of dance films forever. Even filmmakers such as the brilliant Georges Melies recruited dancers to be in his fantasy films. With the invention of films with sound in the 1930, film could capture the entertainers’ ability to sing and dance, and the musical became a part of cinema.
The arrival of dance is a significant factor of the history
of film, just as film is important in dance history. With the dancerly
physicality of Chaplin, the complex geometry of Busby Berkeley’s
beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns, Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling,
Maya Deren’s ability to bring movement to inanimate objects, and
even the marketing power of choreography we see in our favorite music
videos of today, dance is everywhere!
Cheryl Cornetet, Editor