Skip to content

Cinedans 2023: food for thought

Sometimes a festival only really begins after the halls have emptied. Red threads become visible, themes buzz after, research continues, archives are unlocked. What struck me about the nineteenth, somewhat smaller edition of Cinedans is that there was a lot of work on the vulnerability of the body. Not surprising after a pandemic, during a war and with an even bigger global crisis ahead. We need to relate to our vulnerable bodies in a different way, and artists are ahead of us in doing so.

The vulnerable body

Take Shells, the short film by director Marie-Magdalena Kochová and choreographer Jarek Lambor
which won the Student Award. In the lead role dances the now deceased Jan Minarík, from Pina Bausch's company. The physically small space of the lift and his own body, limited by illness and old age, engage in a moving duet that is sure to stay with the viewer for some time. Because of the age gap, student films about the elderly don't always pack credibility, but this film captivates from start to finish. Much of that is also to Minarík's credit

In a different way, the body is vulnerable in Egle Budvytyte's short film Songs from the Compost: Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars, in which dancers seem to have given up bodily autonomy, existing in symbiosis with compost, mushrooms and other underground forces. Hypnotic music and rarefied vocals describe the dancers as non-binary cyborgs slowly becoming stone. If that is the future, it does not look rosy.

Inanimate but determined, they move forward like crabs, on all fours, but belly up. A shapeless embryo lies between a dancer's legs, umbilical cord still intact. The colour palette is already as faded as the emotional material. The initial annoyance (has someone already Donna Haraway read?) quickly turned to curiosity for me. Is this how a new generation of creators sees our future, are these the fears, the expectations?

Dancing with a diary

Corporeality plays the lead role in a different way in two of the festival's VR projects. Dear Diary by choreographer Margherita Bergamo Meneghini is her PhD research project in which Cinedans visitors could participate. In a short 360-degree film, we see teenagers in their leisure time, where the secret diary of one of them is found. We dive into the body of Eve, one of the teenagers. They look at us, challenge us and ask us to dance with the other teenagers, we get the diary pressed into our hands, but it is ruthlessly pulled out again.

With the work, Margherita Bergamo Meneghini explores how our bodily experience feels in VR: do we feel more or less involved, do we experience Eve's body as our own? Interesting questions, which I want to learn more about in the near future. Can we transcend the boundary between our own and other bodies? And what consequences does that have, both in narrative and philosophical terms?

In this work, the penetrating gaze of the other teenagers was more defining than my dancing body. I had to, or rather could, follow the dancing arms, but because you are always a fraction of a second later that your projected arms, they did not feel "real" like my arms, or movements I was initiating.

Dear Diary - Margherita-Bergamo-Meneghini.

Neuroscientists and dance: a great study

Another research project is that of neuroscientists Ineke van der Ham (Leiden University) and Anouk Keizer (Utrecht University). They are investigating the ways in which VR is experienced by diverse people. To what extent does your background and your own physical awareness influence your experience in VR or, more concretely: do dancers interact differently with virtual space than non-dancers? Last year, Cinedans invited Ineke and Anouk to launch a study on 'embodiment' and 'sense of presence' in virtual space during Cinedans FEST. Through VR, they will examine whether your own body awareness affects your sense of space and place the VR.

The survey results have not yet been published. That will obviously take some time. However, it was interesting to see how the research was conducted. I could wander around a room with my avatar and see what I could and could not influence (why doesn't this drawer open?). Then I was given a questionnaire, with questions about how I experienced the room, but also about my spatial awareness. I had to match 3D objects that could be seen from different positions, and explain my strategy: was I rotating the objects in my head, or rotating myself around the objects?

Finally! A dance film archive!

Not only is research continuing, there is also a new initiative that is very promising: a dance film archive!
In cooperation with Performing and at the initiative of director Jellie Dekker and Cinedans, the first steps have been taken towards a national archive for dance film. The intention is to make a good century of dance films accessible and findable for audiences, programme makers and researchers. There is a wealth of material accessible, but unfortunately an awful lot of tapes have also been erased. An eternal shame.

Take for instance the dance programme Hans van Manen once had on Dutch TV, precious to watch, with a pas de deux by a very young Alexandra radius and Jaap Vlier on the steps of the Stedelijk. At the same time, it is sad that there is now serious interest in dance only on a distant channel. Such beautiful films have been made in the Point Taken programme, for example. So opening up the dance film is a valuable project for the performing arts and film. I look forward to new introductions to archive material and revisiting beloved films.

See more here for more info

Appreciate this article!

If you appreciate this article and want to show your appreciation with a small contribution: you can! This is how you help keep independent journalism alive. Show your appreciation with a small donation!


Why donate?

We are convinced that good investigative journalism and expert background information are essential for a healthy cultural sector. There is not always space and time for that. Culture Press does want to provide that space and time, and keep it accessible to everyone for FREE! Whether you are rich, or poor. Thanks to donations From readers like you, we can continue to exist. This is how Culture Press has existed since 2009!

You can also become a member, then turn your one-off donation into lasting support!

Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5 / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18 / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36 / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)