Countdown to Premiere of Groundbreaking Live Dance Film Experience by Jason Winters and The Movement!!
Premieres 3pm Sunday April 9
Jason Winters, renowned contemporary choreographer, has been keeping a big secret. And in one week he is finally going to share it.
As part of Jason’s The Movement youth contemporary dance program, he has developed a ground-breaking project that incorporates technology, social media and dance to deliver the experience of dance in a whole new way for both audiences and dancers alike.
Inspired by the new technology of 360 degree video being used on phones these days, Jason saw that it would be a unique and innovative way of presenting and experiencing dance.
“I saw a video of sharks online in 360 degrees viewed from in an underwater cage and you just turned your phone around as you circled the room and instantly I was in the middle of the cage with the sharks and I was able to see every angle. It gave me such a real life experience of being in that place at that time.
“Immediately I had the thought ‘why have we not done this for dance?’ Watching dance live is such a separated experience because the dancers have their experience and the audience have theirs, and there’s this invisible fourth wall.”
Jason said that while some choreographers, such as Pina Bausch, have tried to break down this wall by placing dancers amongst the audience, not many have brought the audience on stage. He wanted to create an experience where the audience member was placed on stage in the centre of the performance and given control how they decide to view it.
“Not only would you be able to feel that, but also be able to personalise the experience by moving and turning your body to watch or follow one specific dancer throughout the entire routine. Or you could start with one and move onto a different person, a different dancer and continually do that over and over to create an experience with more than 1000 different ways to watch.”
Entitled Captivity 360, the film is produced by The Lewis Brothers, and finding the right mix of people, knowledge, information and technology was only the initial hurdle in making this happen.
The project took 3 months to put together. The filming was done in one take, with no edits and required 6 Go-Pros set up in the centre of the performance space, all linked together to film the seven minute work.
“I wanted the experience to feel completely live, and in a completely live experience I do not edit, do slow motion or change or do alternate takes… so it was done as one continuous take. The crew had to leave the room with each take, leaving just the dancers, and we did 4 takes.”
The technology that allows this simultaneous filming is quite advanced. The Go Pros are set in the centre on a tripod and they all record at the same time and the information is sent back to a computer device. The post-production was difficult and time consuming, requiring delicate accuracy to stitch the footage together into a 360 degree view, and was something Jason initially underestimated and didn’t imagine would take so long! But he says the hardest part of all has been trying to keep quiet about it.
Captivity 360 is the title given to the work. The narrative is of 24 people held in captivity and the dynamic interaction between them. It is really Jason’s commentary on today’s reality television, with the entire work being improvised by the dancers.
“This is basically my kind of diatribe on reality television and the formula of reality television and how generic it is… ‘let’s just put a bunch of people locked together in a space and watch what happens’. Which was very interesting when it was real but now reality TV isn’t real it’s scripted.
“The other exciting part is I didn’t choreograph any of it!… it’s complete improvisation for 7 minutes. So the dancers are telling the story and every take that we did had completely different choreography. I just laid out a structure for timing with the music and space so they knew where they were in the space but then all the creativity is their own.
“In the beginning the dancers are set the parameter that each one of them needs to express how they’re feeling in this captive state singularly. Then as the piece progresses and they realise that everybody in the room is obviously having the same experience then it becomes a collective shift of how do we get out of this place? They come to realise that the cameras made them feel like they were held captive at the start, but by the end they realise the real captive person is the actual viewer. The viewer is stuck in the middle and cannot leave.”
The choice of space and costuming was important for Captivity 360 as, unlike in live theatre performances, Jason wants the viewer to ‘look around’ to find their own personal interpretation. He chose a setting with an interesting ceiling, as depth and perspective is important for the viewer, and put the performers in costumes of the same colour with only coloured body tape to differentiate their individuality.
The members of Jason’s 2016 The Movement Program perform in Captivity 360, and were a bit daunted at first with the idea of improvising a performance for seven minutes.
“Every solo nowadays is 2 minutes … and everyone’s group routine is 4 minutes … but no one is really preparing dances for real life experience of something that’s longer than that – like in a company.
“There’s always improvisation in The Movement experience, but we worked a lot on improvisation specifically in that group because I knew this would be their final project, that I wasn’t going to choreograph it, and I wanted them to contribute and to be the choreographers.”
All the dancers loved the creativity of the project and the opportunity to provide input, according to Jason. “As we know young dancers today are very eager to express their own ideas and opinions and they don’t always want to be told what to do and I think it is valuable to allow them that creative freedom. In saying that I think different about technical training because I think technical training comes from someone who has experience, knowledge and information that the student doesn’t possibly have. So that’s a different delivery but when we talk about creativity and collaboration I really am interested in every person’s opinion and idea.”
“I really do hope it is ground breaking! I can’t wait to see people’s reactions. Hopefully the person who is watching it live will be entertained and excited… they will be able to watch it over and over again and see different people and different performances as many times as they like.”
Captivity 360 will premiere online on combined social media platforms at exactly 3pm on Sunday 9th April. Then, as an extra funny, twist of an end-note commentary on this project Jason has something special planned immediately following the release of the video on Facebook Live – but you will just have to watch to find out!
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