Dancing To Art

Really liked this one. 4 people select a work of art of their choosing in the Tate galleries, and express their reaction to it through dance. Some of the dances take from the meaning of the artwork, some the form, some simply from the emotion it evokes.

The first dancer takes Maggi Hambling’s 2016, a painting of a sinking boat from above. It is an image emblematic of so much of what was happening in that year. In the literal sense it is a familiar image because we saw every day the images of desperate escapes by refugees on sinking boats and rafts in the Mediterranean Sea. Climate change increasing became the focus of concern, as more and more events, such as severe hurricanes and cyclones, provided tangible proof of it already in motion. And also that sense of us all in the same boat, all pulling in the same direction, that notion of society, felt like it was breaking down, with the rise of the far-right, and their successes in mainstream political discourse, such as the election of Trump and the vote for Brexit. The first dancer expresses the urgency and anguish of the image by embodying that sense of the choppy, devouring sea, and the desperation of rowing descending into more and more frantic actions as they are tossed about on swells, before finally sinking into stillness beneath the waves.

The second dancer takes on Gillian Ayres’s Distillation, an abstract painting that rebels against the conventions of composition and form. The dancer is inspired by this freedom, using their body to mimic the swirls and curves of the painting, while also bursting free with spontaneity and creativity.

The third dancer picks Victor Pasmore’s Square Motif, Blue and Gold: The Eclipse. While focusing on the base geometrical shapes, Pasmore conveys the sense of an eclipse. The dancer enjoys embodying these shapes, engaging the pleasure they are experiencing visually with the participation of their whole body.

The last dancer chooses Henry Fuseli’s Titania and Bottom, depicting the scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is a painting packed with purpose, telling the story of each character, the scene, and its place as a whole within the play. The image is at once filled with motion of interacting characters, but also still, frozen in one deliberate pose. The dancer tries to convey that mixture of movement and stillness.

The film also shows the dancers interacting with architecture of the galleries. Sliding on the floor, dancing down the halls and up the stairs. It was really interesting to see the space used in that way, and kinda made me wanna go and dance there myself.

I loved this. There used to be shorts like this on the telly, where they would talk about an artwork for 5 minutes or read a poem, and it would give you an idea of what you might to see or borrow from the library. I remember being told they were part of the Channel 4 Schools programme, I didn’t know that, I was just catching them when I flicked channels between episodes of Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman. I loved catching them, and I don’t get why there isn’t more stuff like that. In an ad break, just take one gap to read a poem, or show some art, or put on something like this. I like just happening upon art.

Anyway, great stuff.