Holly Wilder

Northwest Screen Dance Exposition: Celebrating choreographed cinema

Film meets dance in Eugene festival showcasing emerging art form


Mix cinematography, choreography, and music, and you get screendance, a relatively new time-based art form that can only be experienced on the theater or home screen. While its origins date back to the early days of film, screendance really broke through with the experimental films of Maya Deren who, in the 1940s, explored the interrelationship of dance movement and the moving image. Her films Study in Choreography for Camera (1945) and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) explored human movement with the filmmaking process and took dance from the limiting confines of the stage out into the world beyond.

Still from short film “Private Life Variations” by Deborah Slater. Photo: Deborah Slater Dance Theater.

Still from short film “Private Life Variations” by Deborah Slater. Photo: Deborah Slater Dance Theater.

New video technologies have made experimental cinema much more accessible and affordable, igniting renewed interest in exploring what is now called screendance film making.

The second annual Northwest Screen Dance Exposition celebrated this burgeoning artistic medium with an afternoon and evening program of selected international films on October 11 at the Bijou Cinema Arts Theatre in Eugene. A panel of dance and film professionals chose 19 short films and two feature documentaries from among 73 entries from 13 countries. Themes ranged from a film in which the interplay of dance movement, light and architecture is explored to a film based on the birth of neurons and synaptic connections. Of course there were the traditional themes of romance, loss and even humor. Of the many films presented this year, three stood out.

“How does one cope with someone disappearing from their life?”

That’s the theme (according to its program note) for Wake, a five minute collaborative film by the Wilder siblings. Holly (choreographer/director) and Duncan (cinematographer) are, according to their website, “dedicated to capturing raw humanity through movement and lens.”


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