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Which clippings match 'Choreographic Imagination' keyword pg.1 of 1
15 AUGUST 2013

Busby Berkeley: choreographing the epic visual spectacle

"Berkeley's choreography is important less for its movement of the dancers than for its movement of the camera. To overcome the limitations of sound stages, he ripped out walls and drilled through ceilings and dug trenches for his film crews. When a desired effect could not be accomplished with traditional film equipment, he had his budget expanded to include costs for developing custom rigs. His innovations explored ideas that the stationary camera could not. He wanted to take the audience through waterfalls and windows. He wanted lines of dancers to fall away to reveal scenery that in turn would fall away to expose an even larger setting. His dreams were big, but his determination to see them actualized was even bigger.

Even his worst attempts resulted in eminently watchable movies of exhilarating movement, but his best efforts produced startling effects that bordered on surrealistic dream states. In the quintessential Berkeley films Footlight Parade (1933) and 42nd Street (1933), cameras mounted on tracks are sent soaring past a multitude of dancing legs, flailing arms and orchestra instruments. In all, he directed more than twenty musicals, including an underwater sequence with aquatic star Esther Williams."

(Scott Smith, 6 February 2013, Keyframe)

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TAGS

42nd Street (1933) • aesthetic spectacleBusby Berkeleycamera angle • camera movement • camera rig • choreographic imaginationchoreographies for camerachoreographydance • dance productions • dancers • dancing legs • design formalismentertainment spectacle • Esther Williams • figures in space • flailing arms • Footlight Parade (1933) • geometryglamourgroupingkaleidoscopelegs • Lloyd Bacon • mirrored effectmovementmusical (genre)perspective viewscenerysound stage • stationary camera • surrealist stylesymmetry • underwater sequence • visual designvisual effectsvisual spectaclevisual spectacular • waterfa

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
16 SEPTEMBER 2008

Luminous: by experimental choreographer Saburo Teshigawara

Sadler's Wells, 11 – 12 October 2003

"Luminous is a choreographic masterpiece danced with virtuosity and refinement, litheness and lyricism. Saburo Teshigawara, who created it for his company Karas in 2001, is also lead dancer and, with his long–time collaborator Kei Miyaka, responsible for music, costume and scene design. His choreography is thrillingly liquid and – through both movement and stillness – boldly explores the sculptural qualities of the human body. Trained in classical ballet as well as the plastic arts, Teshigawaraís [sic] dancing seamlessly integrates the formal and amorphous, controlled and wild, slow and frenzied dimensions of his choreography.

In part 1, the dancers streak in and out of patches of light which at first seem to entrap them, but from which they eventually escape with spellbindingly mercurial gestures. Light is explored with glass mirrors, luminous constumes, light–box silhouettes and masterful use of spotlighting. And darkness – which in Teshigawaraís fertile choreographic imagination seems so much more than merely the absence of light – is embodied in the remarkable Stuart Jackson, a dancer blind from birth whose contact with the space around him feels almost physical. When he spreads his hands, or tries to touch the air with outstretched arms, or twists and turns in a space that he seems to have perfectly measured out, he brings alive a world – almost a world–view – experienced through touch and movement alone.

After the interval, the atmosphere changes completely. Strange figures, phosphorescently lit, some minus heads or hands or entire upper torsos, caper around elusively. At one point a cloak flies over the stage. A nun–like figure is suspended mid–air. Two walls enclose a glowing green figure, and open and shut like a huge book. And then all this eerie activity gives way to a meditative solo by Teshigawara, in white on a bare stage, who alternates floating movement with sudden sharp slicing curves and fast spilling turns. He is eventually joined by a black–clad Jackson. They circle around each other, in a dialogue that seems incomprehensible to the on–looker and yet vital in every sense of the word.

The only irritation in Luminous is the portentous and sometimes vapid poetry read by Evroy Deer, which gets in the way of the dancing and dilutes rather than adds to its ëmeaningí [sic]. Apart from that, however, nothing is sensationalist or kitschy. Above all nothing is arbitrary: everything feels essential in the indefinable way of great art."

(Simon May, 2003, Online Review London)

Fig.1 Dominik Mentzos, 'Saburo Teshigawara'.

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TAGS

20012003 • absence of light • aestheticsballetblind • blind performer • choreographic imaginationchoreographyclassical balletcostumedancedarknessdesign formalismDominik Mentzoseerie • everything feels essential • evocative performance • Evroy Deer • figures in spacefloating • floating movement • gestureglassglowinggraphic representation • green light • interdisciplinary • interdisciplinary project • Karas (dance company) • Kei Miyaka • lightlight-box • litheness • Londonluminousluminous costume • lyricism • masterpiecemirrormovement • nothing is arbitrary • nun • phosphorescence • plastic arts • portentous • poses plastiquesSaburo Teshigawara • Sadlers Wells • scene design • sculptural qualities of the human body • sharp slicing curves • silhouettespace • spilling turns • spotlight • stage • Stuart Jackson • suspended mid-air • theatretorso • vapid poetry • virtuosity • visual dramavisual literacy

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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