Several years ago I started experimenting with stop motion animated dance videos. I wanted to explore how improvisation might translate to frame by frame animation. I didn’t choreograph or storyboard the videos – the idea was to allow each movement to emerge from the last, only planning the next 10-15 frames ahead at a time. This led to a curious relationship with spontaneity and time. Decisions and movement which were split-second in the body took maybe 5 minutes to animate. The first example was a Solo.

In the next video I experimented with animated Contact Improvisation (in part inspired by Katrina McPherson’s films).

The last video in the series is an unfinished test. At the time dance in shopping centres seemed to be everywhere and I was interested in the relationship between dance (dancing bodies) and the purpose of the architecture – to coerce people to shop with confidence. I had some idea of what a bodily rebellion in a shopping centre might look like and actually thought it was more interesting to identify and explore choreography that was coherent with the architecture and message of consumerism. Was there a “body of confidence” and what did it look like? This seemed far more subtle and nuanced stylistically than the propaganda from the 1930s and 40s that I was also looking at.

In the end I didn’t have the time or resources to develop the idea (I had plans for a whole dance company and large scale set!) but as with all three videos stop motion did provide a means of thinking that left visual documentation. The process required me to analyse movements and think about the sequence of initiation, weight, release etc and translate that to the puppet. There was also a curious relationship between sensing the movements in my body and standing for long periods of time in often quite tense positions doing the animation.

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