MAP Screen | Dancing With Myself
'Dance (All Night, Paris)' by Melanie Manchot was part a programme guest curated by Debi Banerjee. Its run is now over, but a text remains to view here.
This selection, played out on MAP over the coming months, will capture people, most of them untrained, dancing in their own environments to music. All the works are inextricably linked to an expression of the body in space, its response to sound and a love of dance.
Moving to music is an instinctive impulse, a pre-language form of expression. Our infant bodies respond to music, but typically in adolescence take a different, newly self-conscious stance. As adults we are often resourceful and dance when we can—at a class, a party, or in the kitchen, when our home is temporarily transformed into our very own stage, ballroom or nightclub. Whether partnered or alone, the instance of being in our own domestic space, without the judgement of an audience, allows us an impulsive freedom; to improvise, fantasise, and to be ourselves.
Unlike 'Human Radio', which revealed individuals’ clandestine desire to dance behind closed doors, the second selection in this MAP Screen series, 'Dance (All Night, Paris)' by Melanie Manchot, celebrates the act of dancing together outdoors.
The film begins with a shot of three couples entwined in a tango in a Parisian square at night. Slowly, more couples and groups of dancers join them. All amateurs, they dance their chosen form. As they waltz, lindy hop, belly dance and jive, they move with one another instinctively, improvising the use of the space with collective understanding.
Although gathered in a public space, these dancers are not assembled for an audience. Each wearing a headset, they dance to their own tune, move to their own tempo. The work consciously seeks out a tension between choreography and chance by giving the dancers freedom and responsibility for their self-initiated movement in relation to one another.
What we hear as we watch them are heels scraping against concrete, can-can skirts swishing, the lindy hop shuffle, flamenco claps and the occasional giggle—the music the dancers respond to is observed through movement, rather than as an audible score. Because we are all familiar with most of the dance forms they express themselves through, we imagine we hear the music as we watch them glide around the square.
Intermittently, Manchot’s choreography can be viewed as a performed compositional experiment—the high perspective camera transforms the dancers into drawers on a canvas or page. The relations between them become mark-makers amongst the white bulbs strung over their heads and the grid marks drawn under their feet. Their rhythmical arrangement, their movements and their costumes all form patterns which flow in and out of the frame.
This film is a celebration of a human love of movement to music. But it is also a celebration of our collective desire to share pleasure, to share space, to share language—in this case the languages of dance and music, and to communicate with our senses in a myriad different ways. Each of the movements and gestures might be akin to a different language, and in 'Dance (All Night, Paris)' these languages temporarily coexist, neither merging nor clashing, in a public arena transformed into a night time stage.
Melanie Manchot is a London-based artist who explores portraiture as a performative and participatory practice. Working with photography, ﬁlm and video, her projects often propose constructed events or situations in public spaces and form engaging explorations into our individual and collective identities.
Debi Banerjee is an Edinburgh-based artist, curator and educator. She was Programme Fellow at Stills, Edinburgh (2009-11) where she initiated Film Lounge, a moving-image exhibition and resource space. Her most recent projects include (P)layed, 2012, where she worked closely with Laura Edbrook, Ailsa Lochhead & Sarah Smith to edit a film sourced from existing film media and Square Dance, 2011, which combined film and live performance.
Go to MAP Screen in our Theme search to find more text and information on the MAP Screen [One] programme.