A brief history of the dancer/camera relationship

Lewis-Smith, C (2016) 'A brief history of the dancer/camera relationship.' Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ), 5 (1-2). pp. 142-157. ISSN 2045-6298

7584.pdf - Accepted Version
Repository Terms Apply.

Download (507kB) | Preview
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/miraj.5.1-2.142_1


This article reflects on the relationship between the dancer and the camera. It identifies a divide that commonly exists between the performing dancer and the camera operator/director in screendance-making and suggests that this divide is narrower in production works where links to the dance community exist on both sides of the lens and where production environments do not involve large teams behind the camera. This divide is examined in a historical context and changes in the dancer/camera relationship are charted with examples from the advent of film, such as Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studio productions through the choreography of Busby Berkeley in the 1930s, Maya Deren’s screen dance experiments in the 1950s, Merce Cunningham in the 1970s and concluding in the present day with works by practitioners such as Katrina McPherson and Margaret Williams. Drawing on the testaments of historical observers, contemporary theorists and first-hand accounts by dancers such as Alice Barker, Gene Kelly and Cathy Nicoli, the research undertaken here suggests that the dancer/camera/director divide still persists, even in the more closely aligned groups working in smaller production environments today. However, the article identifies a number of film-makers who, with the advent of new technologies, have developed an alternative approach to filming dance that challenges those structural and hierarchical divisions.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: screendance, dancer/camera relationship, dance film, dance film history, Maya Deren, Busby Berkeley
Subjects: T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1386/miraj.5.1-2.142_1
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 08:57
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:42
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/7584
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)