Cinedance, Dance in Cinema, and Dancing Cinema

4.1 Video Dance

The term video dance first appeared in the mid-1970s in association with Merce Cunningham’s video work.[16] The genre of video dance then began to gain currency in the 1980s and 1990s at festivals such as the Grand Prix Vidéo Danse and Dance Screen.[17] Video dance is broadly defined not only in technical terms — most festivals accept entries in both video and film format — but also in terms of the concept of the dance created with or for the motion picture. However, in most cases video dance is closely associated with the activity of dance and the human body.

In addition to the cinedance approach as understood by Maya Deren, dance productions for television, such as Hans van Manen’s Kaïn en Abel (NED 1961), represent another historical thread leading to video dance. Many video-dance productions are adapted stage productions, such as Merce Cunningham’s Beach Birds for Camera (USA 1992) and Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas danst Rosas (BEL 1997). Cunningham sees the camera as a moving element of the dance itself,[18] and thus identifies the essential element (in addition to the spatial separation from the stage setting) that video dance has in common with Deren’s cinedance approach.[19]

The aspect of sound does not play a significant role in most of the productions. As Claudia Rosiny points out in her study on video dance, its task is mainly, as in feature films, to provide background music.[20]

In purely definitional terms, there is probably no difference between Deren’s cinedance approach and video dance. However, the actual practice of (analog) video dance shows that the specific methods used to work with motion picture are rarely exploited to their full potential, often in favor of the unity of body and space. Moreover, many video-dance works are adapted stage choreographies that were not originally conceived as dance for motion picture.