There have been many film montages of dancers, musicians and others from the performing arts, celebrating their art in lockdown, reconnecting with their audience and colleagues via solo performances edited together to form a piece. Many have been upbeat, some funny, but a new video adds a mood that feels truthful after three months of lockdown.
Where We Are is a beautifully produced dance piece coming in at just under three minutes. Anguish dominates, and even if the English National Ballet's Jeffrey Cirio says, “I'm so hopeful,” he only looks it for a split second. The final utterance of “I'm so…” by The Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward leaves the cast of five without words as they wander away from the camera, downcast and perplexed.
It is refreshingly honest.
The video piece has been choreographed by Hannah Rudd, a dancer with the Rambert Dance Company, and she also features in it alongside Clemmie Sveaas and The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell. The original music composed for this project is by Sophie Cotton featuring violinist Naomi Burrell.
Campbell, working with co-creator Anthoula Syndica-Drummond, was inspired to coordinate this group of dancers and musicians to express the personal impact of lockdown after reading Mikhail Baryshnikov's words at the end of April this year:
Dance taught me everything I know about discipline, perseverance, and life's complexities. My message to all artists right now is this: please keep at it. We need you. The world needs you.
I use this quote from Mikhail Baryshnikov because I think it's a great example of how being exposed to art can change people's perspectives. The idea was to demonstrate individuals experiencing all these emotions through their movement and their faces. “I'm so…” is the repetitive link drawing the viewer in to the evolving mood of the dancers, but the exact emotion is only occasionally verbalised; we see it in their eyes, face, bodies, as they say: “I'm so…” and then we see it elevated, expanded and heightened through the movement.
My personal belief and experience is that dance can exceed even the spoken word when it comes to expressing emotion. I want people, when they watch this, to think: ‘That's exactly how I felt yesterday, or how my neighbour must be feeling right now, or how my cousin feels in Australia while travelling to work.' I want them to project their own feelings and experiences of this time on to the film and share the communal nature and collective emotion of this situation that is expressed through the performances.”
The video can also be seen on the following Instagram channels:
Alexander Campbell – Performer/Co-Creator @acampbell_1
Anthoula Syndica-Drummond – Co-Creator/Producer/Director @anthoula_sd
Francesca Hayward – Performer @frankiegoestohayward
Hannah Rudd – Choreographer/Performer @hannah_l_rudd
Jeffrey Cirio – Performer @jefferycirio
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.